How to escape: Avoid political conversations during Thanksgiving at all costs. Even if your entire family magically happens to have the same political opinions (which they definitely won’t), nothing good can come out of bringing out such a controversial topic during what is supposed to be a peaceful time. Make a vague comment then use that comment to transition away from politics, like “Yeah, the whole election season was crazy. My friends and I all went out for Starbucks after voting to relax. Did you see Starbucks put out its holiday menu? We should go try it sometime. I heard the toasted white chocolate mocha is super good!” Politics get avoided and you might get you a free coffee, courtesy of your family members.
2. “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend yet?”
How to escape: If you do, that’s great! Take the opportunity to brag about your SO. If not, that’s okay! Don’t rush just to please your family. Pivot to something you do want to brag about. For example, “Nah, right now I’m trying to focus on this incredible organization/internship program/class I got into.” Then, flex away. Remember: You do NOT need a significant other to be impressive. You are more than impressive enough on your own.
3. “What are you going to do after college?”
How to escape: No one can see into the future so why does it seem like every relative keeps asking this? Just keep it vague and let your family interpret your response in the way they want to. Try something like “After I graduate, I want to work as a (insert general term for your major like nurse/videographer/advertising team member). Eventually, I want to work my way up to (insert dream job).” This shows you have a plan (even if it’s a loose one) and the ambition to go through with it. That’s all your family really wants to know.
4. “How’s (insert your ex’s name)?”
How to escape: Ouch! Being asked about the ex is never fun. It’s going to be stressful but just try to answer this like you are being asked about a friend. Give an honest but brief reply and don’t let the conversation dwell on the ex.
5. “Can you help me with my phone/IPad/other electronic?”
How to escape: You can’t. As one of the “young ones” in the family, you will never stop getting asked this question. Just know it doesn’t come from wanting you to be annoyed or trying to get you to spend half an hour arguing with Grandma about why you can’t block every spam call. Your older relatives didn’t grow up as digital natives and you’re helping them a lot. View it as an opportunity to help and teach someone you love instead of an irritation.
The past few weeks have been a difficult and often scary time. Between UT’s shift to online classes and the continuously changing state of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel anxious or hopeless. One thing that we all can do to help slow the spread, or “flatten the curve,” is to take part in social distancing.
Social distancing can look a bit different for everyone, but basically it boils down to limiting interactions with people and keeping a distance between you of at least six feet when you can’t go without that interaction entirely. It can be tempting to want to go out and socialize or still take part in spring break plans, but this issue is beyond us as individuals. For the sake of public health, we need to do our part and stay home. Obviously, this can get boring pretty quickly. Here are things to do to fight boredom while practicing social distancing.
Start Your Spring Cleaning
I’d like to think everyone else has a drawer that is always a junk drawer. Whether you have old clothes sitting in your closet or a dresser that needs dusting, though, cleaning is both a time consuming and productive thing to do. If you have a big area to cover, try breaking it up into pieces to conquer throughout the week. Even if you aren’t one of those people who find it relaxing (I certainly don’t), there’s likely to be a sense of accomplishment when it’s all said and done.
Make a Vision Board
A vision board is a great way to set intentions and put your desires onto something tangible. The great thing about this activity is that it can be as elaborate or simple as you want it to be. I already have a large vision board made of a cork board, scrapbook paper, and magazine images, but I decided to make a smaller one to add to it. As individuals we are always changing, so this is an activity that can be done multiple times whether you’ve made it with long term goals and dreams or short term ideas. All you need is a surface such as a piece of paper/poster board/cork board, magazines or internet images to cut out, and glue/thumb tacks to secure the images. If you’re artsy you could even add paint or drawings to your vision board. This is also a great way to take your mind off of the craziness of the day and think about things you’d like to do for yourself.
Host a FaceTime Party
Even if you’re social distancing with your roommates or family members, it can still feel lonely and dull. For those having to leave the dorms or other living arrangements near campus, it can feel like you’re being ripped away from your friends, support system, and overall routine. Luckily we have technology at our fingertips that can help us reconnect. Text your friends/family and set up a FaceTime date. Grab some snacks, get comfortable, make sure your device is charged, and keep each other company! You could also try playing a game or watching a movie “together” if catching up feels repetitive.
Avoid getting stir crazy by making it a point to go outside everyday. According to this Time article, going outside can lower stress, decrease blood pressure, and improve your overall mood. Walking your dog, going for a morning/evening walk, visiting a spacious park, drinking your coffee outside, opening up a window, having a picnic in your backyard, outdoor yoga, going for a run, or riding a bike are just a small sample of things you can do to get outside.
Workout for Free (and at home) with YouTube
Instead of going to the gym, try something new from the comfort of your home. YouTube is a great way to get fit for free and there are literally hundreds of channels to choose from. If you’re looking for a quick, high energy workout, I recommend the Body Coach TV. Joe Wicks is the “Body Coach” and is probably the only person who can make me smile while doing a plank. His specialty is HIIT workouts and he has a huge variety of videos to try. For pilates or yoga, checkout Boho Beautiful or Yoga With Adriene. The Boho Beautiful videos are always in a unique destination that can either give you some future travel inspiration or help you pretend like you’re in Bali. Adriene from Yoga With Adriene is Austin based, so you can support a local yogi by watching her videos.
Baking is another way to pass time that is productive, entertaining, and (hopefully) delicious. Whether you fancy yourself a future Food Network star or barely know what a whisk is, now is a great time to get cooking. Try and use what you have to avoid going out in crowds. If you don’t have a favorite recipe to whip up, these cookie recipes by Tasty can be made using cake mix and are both easy and delicious. Wanting to make something from scratch? This chocolate cake recipe or these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are two of my absolute favorite recipes.
Start a New Show/Book
Although the adrenaline rush of binge watching a series when you have an exam coming up may not be there, it’s still a great time to start a new series or begin reading a book. It doesn’t have to be actually “new,” either. Never understood the hype of The Office because you’ve never seen it? Now’s your chance. Wanted to read Michelle Obama’s book but didn’t have the time? Well, now you do.
Journaling can be both a creative outlet as well as a therapeutic release during times of stress or uncertainty. It can sometimes be difficult to keep up with a traditional journal or know what to write so if that isn’t your thing, try using a bullet journal or a prompting/list journal. I love this reflections and intentions journal because it has fill in the blank prompts for things like gratitudes, reflections, and mood while being flexible enough so if you miss a day it is no big deal. Plus, it’s designed to be used in the morning and again at night, making it more of an activity that you can add into your new routine. A bullet journal can be bought online for relatively cheap and is a great option for those looking to tailor the journaling experience with a bit more creativity and freedom to doodle. There is a ton of inspiration for bullet journals on Instagram and Pinterest, too!
Social distancing is an important part of slowing the spread of the Coronavirus, but it can be difficult emotionally. It’s important to remember that you aren’t alone and, while it may not always seem like it, staying home is one of the biggest ways you can contribute right now. It’s also important to recognize that while getting things done while at home can feel like a valuable way to pass time, it’s okay if you aren’t “productive.” Taking care of your mental health is just as important and that can look different for everyone.
If you’re struggling with finding things to do while staying in, try the tips above or come up with some ideas of your own and don’t forget to let us know on social media how you’re social distancing!
Everyone’s favorite time of the year has finally arrived! Christmas, a time with beautiful lights, cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies, and Mariah Carey reclaiming her “Queen of Christmas” crown once again. Yet, especially for children, it’s also a time of approaching the day of the 25th, where the magical Santa Claus enters your home, eats a questionable amount of sweets, and brings toys for all the little children across the world. Many can agree that the big man with the beard is iconic, yet many can also concur that this fictional figure and the holiday itself is highly commercialized. With every passing year, this jolly holiday has unfortunately become a profitable frenzy. From getting your lights and decorations out as soon as possible to any store business taking the opportunity to establish “Crazy Sales”, Christmas has transformed Santa Claus simply into a logo who carries a coke bottle as well as merely an encouragement to buy what you desire. This leads to an intriguing question; Can one have Christmas without Santa Claus?
Well, certainly yes, it’s indeed possible and I should know that because as a child, I was told that he didn’t exist. To elaborate, no, I was not deprived of a childhood and banned from believing, but due to financial troubles, we couldn’t afford to have that many gifts. In my household, my single mother was balancing between two jobs and taking care of 5 children, leading to not being able to have the joy of waking up to many toys. Yet, I always have been thankful to never have had that privilege as not only has it humbled me but it as well as allowed my family to develop our own merry little Christmas. As my siblings and I began to grow up, we started to give each other little gifts that focused on sentimental value. Before being able to get jobs and make money, we would give one another handmade gifts (i.e. My sister loved making jewelry and I loved writing poetry or drawing pictures) or offer to do each other chores for a week or so by giving little “home coupons.” Although gifts weren’t as extravagant in my household growing up, we would take advantage of having our mother not working by having our own little Christmas party. We would drink hot chocolate and eat food in our pajamas, spending the whole holiday watching “A Christmas Story” on its’ 24 hour marathon, seeing who can last the longest (I usually win). These small traditions continued on till this day, allowing me to truly see that Christmas is a time of family, and appreciating all you have.
This holiday has also allowed me to see that the value of gratitude is important. Growing up, I started to help out in my community to those have also been unfortunate in the holiday season. Doing so has enabled me to truly focus on the real meaning of Christmas, which is to bring goodwill to all people, especially those in need. So, how can one be able to give a little holiday spirit? Well, one can donate toys and other gifts to organizations such as Orange Santa (A UT based tradition), Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, or any toy drive at a local market/shopping mall. Rather than gift giving, one can also go into their local nursing home or women’s shelter and simply spend your time making their day a little special by caroling, giving food, and other good deeds.
Overall, although Christmas has been about gift giving, it’s also about giving your time and grace to others. Have a Happy Holidays!
Want to help out this holiday season? Here’s more information on the following;
White Elephant is a popular Christmas tradition among friends and acquaintances, other than Secret Santa of course. Unlike Secret Santa, however, the game offers participants a chance to give an anonymous gift suited for anyone. Gifts can be something nice like a Starbucks gift card or, if you’re feeling creative, it can be a gag gift.
Gag gifts are a huge hit in White Elephant, but no one wants to go home with something that has no real use. Instead, it’s time to get creative with these gag gifts that your friends will actually want.
Bob Ross Heat Changing Mug
The man, the myth, the legend. Bob Ross is a meme to all for his inspiring quotes and DIY videos for intricate paintings. This heat changing mug reveals a painting behind Bob Ross whenever a warm drink fill the mug. This gift is perfect for coffee lovers. It can be snagged for $15.95 on Amazon.
Giant Pizza Blanket
Know a pizza lover? Know a taco or burrito lover? Give the gift of a warm blanket for the winter season with this novelty blanket! This blanket comes in different patterns including, pepperoni pizza, supreme pizza, or even a tortilla! This giant pie can be bought for $18.00 on Amazon.
Cookie Spoon Pan
Save the environment and stop using plastic spoons. Instead, give your friends a reason to eat more cookies by gifting them this cookie spoon pan! Your friends don’t know it yet, but they need this cookie spoon pan. Save the environment and win White Elephant for only $18.00 on UncommonGoods.
DIY Taco Bell Survival Kit
Looking to make something cheap and easy? Make a Taco Bell Survival Kit filled with toilet paper, a pack of wet wipes, hand soap, air freshener, and some hot sauce packets. It might seem silly, but this stuff can be pretty useful for someone’s bathroom even if they didn’t actually make a stop at Taco Bell. Stop by your local dollar store for the cheapest prices on these items! If you’re feeling a little generous, slip in a Taco Bell gift card.
Gift Card Wheel
Got a few of your old gift cards lying around that you need to get rid of? Put them together to form a wheel and only put one with money on it. Your friends will love this gift, but get frustrated checking to see which gift card has money on it!
So what are you waiting for? Get creative and happy gift giving!
As the sun stirs into another cold morning, the holiday season can be felt in the air. Business’ fill their stores with red wreaths and lace green garland along their tables. Tiny lights are wrapped around trees and the charming ring of a bell excites the hearts of people young and old. Carols, cookies and community fill you with warmth and gratitude. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year spent with family, friends and full stomachs. But before you know it trees that were once trimmed are taken down, and the warm crackling of a fire turns to ashes. In the blink of an eye, the holiday magic disappears.
For many people, traditions make the holiday season richer and slower. Whether it is baking grandma’s famous cookies the night before Christmas, or buying a new ornament to decorate the tree traditions add to all the enchantment. If you are looking to delve deep into the holiday cheer this winter, here are some traditions to begin with family, friends and loved ones.
Make Festive Food, Ciders and Desserts
Cooking is a great way to have fun with your loved ones and start a new tradition or family recipe. Cooking is also a great way to incorporate your family’s individual culture into the holidays.
Deck the Halls and Decorate
Decorations enhance the Christmas magic more than anything. Make decorating an event in your household. Invite over friends, play Christmas carols and make your home festive. Also consider homemade decor options to spend more time creating with loved ones.
The holiday season is also a time of reflection. Many families chose this time of the year to express gratitude for one another through gifts and service. Make it a tradition in you family to buy toys for children in hospitals, donate to the homeless or give gifts to your neighbors.
Have Cozy Nights In
Make a festive Christmas cider, like wassail, and host your loved ones at your house. Put on your favorite Hallmark Christmas movie and start a fire. Share laughs, hugs and quality time with your family.
Go See Christmas Lights
Christmas lights and Christmas decor can be elaborate and impressive. Go see a light show local Christmas light show and take pictures of all the beauty.
Holiday traditions are unique and special ways to make this season full of joy, gratitude and love. Be creative with your traditions and celebrate with people you love because it isn’t about what you do, it’s about who you do it with.
Featured image courtesy of : Creative Commons; “Christmas Tale” by Alexandr Ignatiev