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Home for the Holidays

Holiday Pampering for You and Your Student

Kate Harveston

Easy Ways to Refresh Body and Spirit!

Does preparing for the holidays leave you panting? You might feel stressed this time of year for many reasons. If your student is home from school, why not indulge in some pampering for you both?

You don't need to spend a lot of money to revitalize mind and body. Spending time with those you love boosts your mood. Here are nine ideas for the coming winter break.

1. Try a new fitness class together.

Do you resign yourself to gaining a few pounds this time of year? You can both avoid falling into a winter slump by taking signing up for a class at the gym or finding a class online over Zoom! When you go with your student, you’ll feel less intimidated — you can try the new workouts together and giggle at each other's mistakes.

2. Have a favorite movie marathon.

You can learn a lot about somebody from the movies they love. Spend a Saturday having a marathon of favorites with your returning college student. Discuss why you enjoy the films you've chosen. Ask questions like, "Which character do you relate to most?" Listen carefully to their replies — without having to pry too much, you may glean something about what they’re experiencing at this stage of their lives.

3. Make homemade gifts.

Creating something together is a great bonding experience for you and your student. More than half of Americans plan to give homemade gifts and crafts for the holidays. Why not get in on the fun? Your relatives and friends will appreciate the time and care you put into making something with your hands.

You could learn to knit and make scarves and hats (perfect beginner projects). If you enjoy painting, take an art class together and then have fun Christmas morning placing signed masterpieces under the tree for those you love. If you celebrate Hanukkah you might get super crafty and have a homemade gift for each night of the holiday!

4. Throw a do-good party.

The abundance of the holidays can serve as a reminder to care for those less fortunate. Why not turn giving back into a celebration?

You and your student might create gift bags for the homeless containing essential items like personal hygiene products, socks and gloves. Or make decorations to drop off for members of a local nursing home. Another wonderful option is to pool money among your family members and purchase a gift for a child living in poverty through Toys for Tots, the Prison Fellowship Angel Tree program, Salvation Army or Pay Away the Layaway.

5. Unplug from social media.

Does the holiday season get you down? Maybe you lost someone you love, and this is your first holiday without them. Perhaps it’s a financial strain to travel or buy gifts. If so, you may feel worse when you see your friends posting pictures of their celebrations online.

Treat yourself and your student to a social media break. During this time, read books. Play board games. Go outside together on a clear night and count the stars. You'll renew your connection with yourself and one another instead of feeling anxious or triggered by the goings-on in the rest of the world.

6. Learn to give a proper massage.

Few things help a returning student shed the stress of last semester like a good shoulder rub! Consider inviting your student to take a trip to the spa together or buy some at-home massage gear. You can make it one of their holiday gifts, or you might even make it a goal to learn this ancient healing art together. As you gain skill, you may both find you’ve found a new hobby, or even something you could pursue as a side gig. Either way, you'll both find yourselves more relaxed by the end of it!

7. Create an at-home spa experience.

No need to shell out for a professional pedicure. Buy a new kitty litter pan and some nail care supplies from your local dollar store. Sprinkle rose petals and Epsom salts in the tub for a relaxing soak.

Next step: slough off dry skin with a homemade sugar and coconut oil exfoliant. Rub in lotion to moisturize and heal any cracks. Paint your piggies in seasonal colors or any hues that delight your fancy. Whether your student wants the full treatment or just the foot soak and scrub, it’ll be fun to spend the time together.

8. Embark on a yoga or meditation practice.

Yoga stretches both your body and your mind. The word comes from the Sanskrit and means "union." Many different forms of this practice exist. If you enjoy a vigorous workout, give Bikram yoga a try. For gentle stretching, go to a Hatha class.

Teach your student how to start each day the right way with meditation. You can find mindfulness podcasts on YouTube for free. Spend five minutes in quiet visualization every morning, and you'll feel better the whole day through. These kinds of techniques can prove invaluable when your student goes back to school and needs to remember to relax and refocus every so often when times get stressful.

9. Volunteer in your community.

‘Tis the season to give back. Food pantries and homeless shelters are in need of donations, and you and your student will gain a greater appreciation for your own holiday feast! Plus it’s a great bonding experience for the both of you.

Do you love animals? Shelter pets have little reason to feel the holiday cheer so volunteer together to walk dogs or socialize cats. You may even fall in love with a new family member — adopting a shelter pet will be one more reason to feel merry! Just be sure you’re ready for the commitment, especially if your student is thinking they’d like a pet in their off-campus home.

The holidays don't need to center on frantic last-minute rushes for gifts. By following a few simple steps, you can make the season about reconnecting with loved ones — your returning college student included — while treating yourself to some much-needed holiday pampering!

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Holiday Gift Guide Ideas for College Students We made a list and checked it twice. Save time and get the perfect present for your college student with our "Holiday Gift Guide". Find 50+ gift ideas that your student will love! >>


    Kate Harveston is a health and lifestyle journalist. Find more of her writing on her blog (So Well, So Woman), in College Parent Magazine by CollegiateParent, and on sites like YourTango, Greatist and Care2.

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