5 Ways to be Festive with your Student Family

With Christmas, Hannukah and Kwanzaa fast approaching and lots of you preparing to go home soon, I’m sure you’ve thought about the people on your floor or in your flat/house or even your wider circle of friends and getting into the Christmas spirit this season. Whilst many will opt for the Christmas meal or hope to join one of the many themed parties on the town, sometimes it’s hard to get that table when your favourite restaurant is booked out or you’re struggling to balance your budget for your Wednesday night sesh against buying gifts for your family and friends. Fear not, for there are many creative ways to enjoy Christmas with your friends on a tight budget. Here are a few ideas to get started.

Host a Jacob’s Join/Potluck Party or Holiday Dinner

If you’re struggling to afford a full fat meal each at a restaurant, why not host a feast of your own between friends and each bring a dish. This could be done in a traditional bring your own party, or you could make a communal Holiday Dinner together if you all live nearby, each bringing a portion of the meal or liquid refreshment to the host location. This in turn will hopefully mean you all get more food for your money as well as the satisfying feeling you contributed to your respective December feast without the crazy stress of preparing the whole thing yourself or polishing off your wallet on a meal out.

Secret Santa Your Presents

At some point everyone has experienced or heard of an organised secret Santa. If this is your first time hearing of it,  there’s a few different forms of it. The most common form basically works where those participating will enter their name into a hat (or equivalent), the names are shuffled and each participant will be asked to pull out a name. This name isn’t revealed until the end (hence the secret) and you then have to buy a present for the person who’s name you picked out of said hat. On hand in day the people are either revealed by giving your gift to the person, or they are placed on a table in private and the recipient picks it up when everyone congregates. Whether you reveal the senders to each other, or keep it a secret forever is up to you and your group.

Another variation involves no names at all and you’re expected to buy just a gift for the centre circle. Once these are bought it follows the format similar to above where these are secretly placed in a neutral location and chosen in some form (e.g: from a sack, by numbers like a tombola or just straight claimed) and again, the buyer may be revealed or kept quiet – it’s all up to you.

This is often a useful way of gift giving on a budget as you’ll only need to buy one present, everyone participating is guaranteed one and it’s a little bit of fun with your friends.

Group Decoration Session

Whilst you might not be in your student pad on your respective day, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the festive times whilst you’re there. With commercial ventures getting scarily earlier and earlier with Christmas decorations and with Kwanzaa and Hannukah occuring long after you leave, it’s worth spending some time together to have an early version of it with your student family. So grab a tree, a candelabra or decorative Dreidals (which can be used for games) to recognise your respective holiday together before you celebrate it officially with the family.

Have some ‘Family’ Time

Whilst you may not be brothers and sisters, if you’re in accommodation and you’re close as friends it’s a great idea to spend the downtime together as a family and what better excuse to unwind with some “family” style fun. So get get out your party video games like Jackbox Games or Buzz, blow the dust off that Nintendo Wii you once thought was cool a few years ago or recalibrate the Kinect or Eye Toy, dig out the old school board games or the new style ‘grown up’ card games, find some pens and paper, or make use of the aforementioned Dreidal and have a blast! If you can afford a cheap night, why not make use of a good old fashioned pub quiz (or indeed it’s smartphone equivilant) or take a go at Rock and Roll Bingo (usually £1 entry at many places). Whatever your chosen method of entertainment, make sure it’s something you can all enjoy!


Sound a bit too sensible? Thought so.


Party Like It’s 1999 All Over Again

It’s just not the end of the year without a little celebrating is it? So if you can’t afford to hit the town, get a few beverages of your choice, compile a playlist of the old classics and a few modern hits. Grab a few more metres of flashing Christmas lights and party on! (Just don’t irritate your neighbours after 11 or you’ll get more than lumps of coal arriving!)


However you choose to spend your holiday, I hope you all have an amazing time and let me know what you get up to in the comments below.




Feeling Homesick or Alone

Hey everyone. After watching a recent video, I really thought this would be a great time to post this topic, just as the realities of university will be sinking in for newbies to the student life and for those returning students that may have moved in on their own for the first time or indeed any time.

Living away from home can be a life changing experience, but as with every up, comes it’s down sometimes. After a few weeks it’s perfectly normal to miss life at home  and sometimes feel a little homesick.

Alternatively, it can sometimes feel lonely if you live on your own or your friend and significant others are away for a long period of time. You might even feel lonely when others are around  (for instance being single around people in relationships, the general feeling of being in a new place with nobody you know or other more personal reasons).

To help you combat this unpleasant feeling, here’s five different suggestions to help you on your way to feeling yourself again.

A big shout out to great The Huffington Post, The Guardian & KEEPINSPIRING.ME for the helpful examples and to the very lovely Hannah Witton with this video for inspiring me to add my own experience and compile this list.

Keep Busy

Sounds obvious right? But honestly, a common prerequisite to loneliness is doing nothing. Not doing anything productive or entertaining, often leads to boredom, boredom leads to internal contemplation, contemplation leads to realisation and then you reach the penny drop that you’re there. Alone. And it’s not cool. And left to fester, it gets quite depressing. So how do we avoid this decline?

Do stuff.

Don’t worry, I won’t just leave you contemplating that. You should do something you either enjoy or you feel benefits you. This could be a hobby, some housework , some studying, going to the gym, anything that will keep your mind and body occupied and off that other subject we mentioned earlier.

Immerse Yourself In Another Universe

If you don’t feel socially fulfilled in this world, transport yourself in a fantasy one where you can connect with other character or indeed other real players around the world. Read a new or favourite book and let yourself get lost in the world and the actions of the characters described. Watch a non-easy watching film in the dark and experience the drama as it unfolds around you, or contrast with something comedic (after all laughter is meant to be the best medicine!). Log onto a game server (RPG, FPS and MMO games will be great for this) and become somebody else for a few hours. You never know you might meet other like minded people along the way and both indulge in the great life away from life together (or just blow up each other to smithereens!)

Don’t Get Drunk Whilst Lonely

You see it happen in the movies and it it looks like it’s a good solution, but what they’re really going through is kept off camera. Alcohol is naturally a depressant, both physically and  psychologically, though how it affects people is different to each individual and depends on a lot of variables (making it already a bad idea). My personal experience with large amounts of alcohol is that it’s like an amplifier for emotions. So in a parallel universe where I’m sober, if I’m having a good time, in the drunk one I’m having a blast! However in this case, if I was lonely, I’d be a bit down sober, so I’d feel much worse after a number of drinks – therefore negating the whole point. That and you’ll feel the hangover the next day extending your gloom further.

Go Exploring

When I recently became single, I didn’t find the idea of sitting in a bedroom all day too appealing. I wanted to get out and at least explore more of the county I was in. Considering I don’t (yet) drive I had to rely on public transport – and this turned out to be a great thing. I could pick a different destination on the map every few weeks and take off to somewhere else using the money that would have otherwise been spent as a couple. Not that you can’t do this if you’re in a relationship, just make sure you budget carefully so as not to miss out on opportunities when you spend time with your SO. If you’re not sure where to go or you’ve just moved to a new location and therefore know little about your immediate environment, pick a random place that looks interesting and take off. Just make sure that somebody knows where you are though if you do this.

Seek Out Your Family or Your Closest Friends

Your family are the support network you’ll never lose and your closest friends are the ones you get to pick. In today’s connected world, most people have access to communication of some kind (from top of the line video conferencing to a simple land-line phone or nearby phone box/booth/thing). Just a few respective characters and you can have somebody on the other end of the line to converse with and talk to. If phone calls or video chatting aren’t your thing, have a kitty for trips home. A brief trip back to home life can often be the thing to get you back on track. One word of advice though, keep to the three week rule when you first move out (if you have). If not, you won’t be so much of a “home bird”  as somebody that doesn’t leave the nest (which is always worth trying out in life! Once you’re used to it, a whole new world opens up for you!)


I hope this post has some great advice for you and if you struggle with feeling lonely or homesick I strongly encourage you to check out the links above and to follow these tips. Feeling lonely can affect everyone at any point in their life. Nobody should ever feel embarrassed about it and nobody deserves to suffer in silence. 

Don’t hide it, Don’t ignore it.


Thanks for reading and I’ll post another slightly more positive post again on Tuesday.