Some people say the holiday season doesn’t really start until after Thanksgiving. That’s up for debate, but November 1st is when it’s finally acceptable to start getting festive.
Christmas music is on the radios, cities are decorating their street lamps, Christmas movies are playing in theaters, and stores are fully stocked on all the holiday goods.
Festivity is in the air in a way that’s almost impossible to avoid, so if you’re ready to get festive yourself, check out these 8 ways you can embrace the season.
1. Start decorating
It’s officially safe to put up your Christmas tree. Decorating the Christmas tree is a great way to get into the holiday spirit, and you can make a day of it. Get some friends and family together, put some festive music on, and hang those ornaments!
If you get a real tree, don’t put up a tree at all, or just like to save that for closer to the holidays, there’s plenty of other ways to decorate for the holidays.
Decorating can be as much or a little of a commitment as you want it to be. It could be as little as hanging a wreath on the front door, or as much as arranging an entire holiday village complete with a train chugging through your living room.
Whatever you choose to do, you’ll get to see it every day until the holidays, and it’s sure to spark some cheer every time you stumble upon them.
2. Listen to music
The radios are already lavishing us with Christmas music, but if your favorite hasn’t been played yet, go ahead and put it on for yourself.
Putting on some festive tunes is a great way to get in the holiday spirit without having to take any extra time out of your day.
Next time you’re driving, sitting on the bus, or doing homework, let your soundtrack be your favorite holiday playlist. Whatever you’re doing, you’ll do it with just a little more joy.
3. Do a secret Santa with your friends
Most of us find ourselves saying goodbye to friends during the holiday season as we head back to our families. This doesn’t mean we can’t have an equally festive pre-holiday celebration with our friends before we go home.
‘Friendsgivings’, or Thanksgiving celebrations spent with friends rather than family, are becoming more and more common among young adults as either a replacement or an addition to the more traditional Thanksgiving.
The same can be true for the rest of the winter holidays! Decorate your dorm or apartment with your roommates and have a festive gathering with all your friends. You could cook dinner, do a potluck, order take out, or just go out to a restaurant. All that matters is that you’re together.
You could also integrate a festive game into your get together. Secret Santas are a great way to surprise each other with a personalized gift and show how well you’ve gotten to know each other. White elephants are a fun twist on this game where people have the opportunity to steal gifts from each other.
This is also a very economical way to celebrate the holidays as you can set a price limit on gifts with your group as high or as low as you want, and everyone is only responsible for just one gift.
4. Watch holiday movies
It’s just about that time for arguments to resurface about what the ‘best’ Christmas movie is. In my personal opinion, it’s The Polar Express, but whatever movies fill your heart as you watch them by the fire are the ones you need to break out.
The classics, like Frosty and Rudolph are always great if you’re watching with younger kids, while others like A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life never fail to put things in perspective.
If you’re more of a comedy person, The Grinch and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation have held up well after all these years.
You could also venture out to theaters and see a brand new festive flick. Last Christmas, a classic Christmas rom-com starring Henry Golding of Crazy Rich Asians and Emilia Clarke of Me Before You and Game of Thrones, premiered this month.
5. Random Acts of Kindness
This is the season of giving, and I truly believe that magic is in the air during these months. Commercials and retail stores have really tried to capitalize on this being the season of gifts, and sometimes the spirit seems to have veered away from genuine generosity with no strings attached.
The spirit of giving isn’t about wealth, recognition, or material things. It’s about kindness and inclusivity, and sometimes it’s the smallest things that spread that feeling.
Pay for the person behind you in the drive-through, let people merge in front of you on the highway, hold the door as you enter or exit a building, send an anonymous donation to a cause that you care about, compliment a stranger. These are the things that really make up the holiday spirit.
It costs nothing to be kind, and it’s guaranteed to improve both your day and those of everyone around you.
Baking with my dad has become a staple of my family’s holiday vacations. It’s a fun and easy way to spend some quality time together, and we end up with a dessert for the rest of the family to enjoy.
This can be as intense of an experience as you want it to be. Buy some pre-made, oven-ready cookies, make dough from scratch, or experiment with a brand new recipe of your own.
Whatever you do, the smell of cooking pastries is synonymous with the holiday season, and you’ll end up with a shareable snack.
If you bake with Christmas music playing in a kitchen that’s already been decorated for the holidays, you’ll be getting the full festive experience.
7. Shop for your family
Every year, there are people pulling into the Target parking lot on Christmas Eve in a panic. The spirit of giving isn’t about how many gifts you give or receive; it’s about touching the hearts of the people you love.
Start now and take the time to evaluate your options to find that perfect thing for all the closest people in your life. This could mean ordering something online, getting things from a few different stores that come together into the perfect gift, or making something yourself.
Being thoughtful and taking your time in your gift-giving will make the experience all the more meaningful to the recipient, and all the more rewarding for you. Not to mention, once you start putting gifts together for your loved ones, you’ll have the next couple of months to look forward to their reaction.
8. Plan your holiday vacation
The holiday season is full of travel. This might mean returning to your childhood home after being away at college, venturing out to another family member’s home, or staying right where you are.
Whatever your plans are, it can never hurt to start preparing early. Plane and train tickets are cheaper (and more available) the earlier in advance you book them. Traffic also peaks during the holidays, so it can’t hurt to start planning your route and travel times.
Planning your holiday travel also means you get to reach out to family members or friends you might only see during special occasions. Getting back in contact with these people and planning your visit can be super exciting, and you can never start that process too early.
Organizing your holiday plans ahead of time will get you excited for however you’re spending the holidays and will also ensure that when the time comes to celebrate, everything will go smoothly.
How are you planning to get into the holiday spirit? Let us know in the comments below. Happy holidays!
Featured image via @syuta_disney_1029 on Instagram
Casey is a junior at Emerson College majoring in screenwriting. She's extremely passionate about petting dogs, writing, and being outside, but if she's not doing one of those things, she's probably napping!