The Christmas break is, for a lot of students, the first long period of time at home since starting uni, and can be pretty daunting without good preparation. The key is to plan your time; you might want to hang out with friends but this could overlap with, for example, visits to Aunt Val’s for a buffet of cold meats. Ignoring Aunt Val may lead to sad parents and several weeks of “Could you pass the salt Jon and maybe care about your family a bit more?”  

Here’s how planning can help you avoid the holiday blues…

Travelling

Travelling home is not fun; the closer to the 25th it gets, the busier the trains, planes and coaches become. Book tickets in advance – it’s not only a good way to guarantee yourself a place on what could be a packed train, but you might also nab a cheaper fare. Equally, booking at the last minute may still work out cheaper, but could be risky. Only do this if you’re a man who enjoys danger, danger is your middle name etc. 

Avoiding major hubs, like main terminals within London, reduces the cost of the journey and is another small way to claw back some cash that could be spent on much more sensible things, like mulled wine. Check out Split Your Ticket and Thetrainline.com for good savings (make sure you check the slower trains for the Super Saver deals) – or grit your teeth and megabus it

Change

Since September you and your family will have adjusted to you not being at home – whether that’s a new routine, not having your favourite cereal, or transforming your bedroom into an aquarium. Give them a ring before you return home so you can sort out any plans, make sure they have the right cereal, and that you’ve got somewhere to sleep. Physical changes will have occurred as well – either to yourself or others – over the past couples of months, so by keeping in touch with friends and family, they’ll be prepared for your new tattoos and green hair and less likely to freak out. 

Having a whole eight or ten weeks to yourself will be one of the biggest changes. Due to this new sense of responsibility, returning home to your parents’ rules can be pretty tough and cause a fair few arguments. Suddenly you’re going to have to pick up your socks, clean the bathroom and hang towels on rails, but try and take it in your stride. Remember it’s only for a little while – soon you’ll be back to your sock-strewn towel pile of a bedroom and,  on the plus side, think of the fully packed fridge, cooked meals and the free laundry service. Although probably don’t refer to your mum as a “free laundry service”. Mums don’t like that.

Work

With the festive spirit everywhere, retailers are looking for Christmas temps to help with the hustle and bustle that additional shoppers bring. A way to keep busy (or stay out of the way while at home) could be to get a part-time job for the remainder of the year. This is a good time to get some extra cash for when you go back to university and you’ll be, once again, forced to buy your own food and £3million textbooks.

Communication

Upon returning home, your number one conversation topic will be university and everything you’ve been up to. Remember that, no matter how cool the student union is or how annoying lectures are, don’t bang on about it. They don’t know who Dave is, and they aren’t privy to the array of in-jokes you’ve developed over the last month – so stick to general anecdotes and stuff that everyone can chat about. 

If you can’t bear to be without your newfound mates’ beautiful faces over the Christmas period, then Skype them – you can create group conversations and web cam chats for free. 

Don’t forget about work

Even though Christmas is the end of the term and a time to relax, don’t forget you’ll be going back for the January examinations and deadlines. Keep on top of your work over the break so you don’t fall behind and end up rushing your essays at the last minute. Equally, completing your work on an earlier schedule reduces stress and worry over the holiday – it’ll be one less thing to worry about while at home. 

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