Alternative winter holiday traditions

As the holiday season is upon us, the amount of Christmas decorations being put up, holiday treats being baked, and wintery traditions being fulfilled increases exponentially. Although some people like to stick to their long-term traditions, it may be hard to do everything the same each year. Especially in college, trying to keep up the same holiday tradtions can be difficult. It is important to remember the real reason you started those traditions in the first place and be willing to carry them out in different ways. Doing fun things with friends and/or family is the best part of the holiday season. So keep an open mind and try some of these ways to switch things up this holiday season!

Hot Chocolate

Everyone loves hot chocolate, but many fail to recognize the fun you can have with this classic wintery drink. There are many possibilities. This year, try creating a make-your-own hot chocolate bar with friends, or follow one of the following unique recipes.

1. Pumpkin white hot chocolate (from Fall and winter collide to make the most perfect warm cup of hot chocolate. Ingredients: 8 oz chopped white chocolate (or use chips) 2 cups whole milk 1/2 cup pumpkin puree 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 pinch kosher salt Directions: Combine the white chocolate chips, milk, pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Use a whisk to stir continuously until the chocolate has completely melted and the hot chocolate is thick and smooth.

2. Cookies and cream frozen hot chocolate (from Ingredients: 8 oz cookies and cream chocolate two of the larger, 4 oz. bars 3 tablespoons powdered sugar 3 tablespoons hot cocoa mix (if you can find a white chocolate variety, even better) 3 cups whole milk 6 cups ice cubes Directions: Start by melting the chocolate in a small pan over medium heat or in the microwave. Since the chocolate bars have small bits of cookies in them, keep a close eye on it while melting. It’s easier to burn this type of chocolate bar than most. Once melted remove from heat and stir in the sugar and hot cocoa mix until well combined. Combine the chocolate mixture with the milk and ice in a blender. Puree. Pour into 3-4 tall glasses and garnish with whipped cream and, if you want, a toasted marshmallow.

3. Healthier peanut butter hot chocolate (from Ingredients: 1 cup milk of choice 2 tbsp cocoa powder 1 pinch salt 1 tbsp sweetener of choice: honey, maple or coconut sugar 1 tbsp natural creamy peanut butter 0.5 oz dark chocolate Directions: In a saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until it’s warm but not boiling. Whisk in the cocoa powder, salt, and sweetener, and then peanut butter and dark chocolate, if using. Ladle in a mug, top with whipped cream and drizzle with melted peanut butter and dark chocolate. Serve immediately! Some other hot chocolate ideas include minty hot chocolate, coffee plus hot chocolate (mocha), cinnamon hot chocolate, spicy hot chocolate, or hot chocolate with maple syrup if you’re feeling like Buddy the Elf!

Christmas Trees

Whether you are limited to a dorm room or small space, or simply do not have the time and energy to cut down the traditional Christmas tree, there are several other options when it comes to this holiday tradition. Try an alternative plant, such as a Christmas cactus. If live plants aren’t your things, settle for a fake tree or other plant. If you are limited on space, try hanging string lights on the wall in the shape of a Christmas tree. Wall decals or window stickers are another way to represent a tree without taking up a whole corner of the room. If you are at a shortage of Christmas decorations in general, try stacking gifts (or even empty boxes) covered in wintery wrapping paper into a pyramid to show off the Christmas theme in your living space.

New Years Resolutions

Who keeps a list of their resolutions all year long? I have significant respect for anyone who does, however, this is not realistic for everyone. Alternatives to this habit include reflecting on where you are now and where you are going, living in the moment, forming a list of intentions or making a daily and/or weekly list of goals (instead of yearly). It is important to realize that you cannot expect on big change to happen in a one year just because you made a resolution. Not only does change take time, but being intentional about that change takes time and effort. If you do want to make a change, start now. Why wait for a new year? It is a common misconception that resolutions need to be made on New Year’s only and because of this, they typically never are given a second thought once February comes around. If you really are in need of significant change, there is no better time to start then now. Don’t wait for a holiday or any other excuse. Stop waiting to tell others what you intend to do, and just do it.

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