Classic Spooky Movies to Get you in the Halloween Spirit

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Ready to get into the spirit of Halloween?  If you’re totally over studying and class or just looking for something fun to do with friends, breaking out the Halloween movies is the perfect way to kick back.

On the hunt for the perfect list of classic Halloween movies to get your Spook-tober in full swing?  Look no further – we’ve rounded up our top 10 favorite Halloween movies to help you get into the spirit of the season.

HALLOWEEN

Ah, the classic of all modern classic horror movies.  Halloween is definitely one of the best movies to watch to get you into the spooky spirit of the season.  And the best part?  You can totally hit up the new movie coming out and compare how scary it is.

SCARE FACTOR – 8/10

HOCUS POCUS

Who can forget the Sanderson sisters?  Hocus Pocus brings all of our favorite witches to the table with a not-quite spooky story and a fabulous song and dance number that will get stuck in your head all season long.

SCARE FACTOR – 2/10

SCREAM

Not quite a “classic” in terms of how long it’s been around, Scream is definitely on our list of favorite scary movies.  A play on the classics, this movie packs a suspenseful story and our favorite 90’s actors.

SCARE FACTOR – 7/10

IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN!

One of our all-time favorites and one of the greatest Halloween classics is definitely It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!  Short and sweet, this baby packs in everything you need for a happy (not quite so spooky) Halloween.

SCARE FACTOR – 0/10

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE

Not the remake, but the original.  Made in 1974, this scary movie really brings the scares, keeping you freaked out and on the edge of your seat from start to finish.  Just be sure to watch with the lights on.

SCARE FACTOR – 9/10

THE ADDAMS FAMILY

Not too scary as much as silly, The Addams Family is definitely on our list of seasonal favorites.  This story brings the spooky Halloween spirit and jokes that are still funny, even today, all wrapped up with fantastic acting and great costumes.

SCARE FACTOR – 1/10

THE EXORCIST

If you’re not a fan of possessions, stay away.  This movie is super creepy and will have you hiding your eyes almost as soon as the music starts to play, with a story that can and will haunt you for days.

SCARE FACTOR – 8/10

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW

Maybe not your definition of a classic Halloween movie, but this one is perfect for helping you get into the spirit and maybe chase away some of the leftover fear you have from watching one of the scarier flicks.

SCARE FACTOR – 2/10 (unless you’re afraid of men wearing fabulous eyeshadow)

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

Really looking for a movie to scare you out of your mind?  A Nightmare on Elm Street is totally it.  Just be sure to watch this with your roommate or friends – you may find that you won’t ever want to sleep again after watching it.

SCARE FACTOR – 7/10

THE CRAFT

Another great hit out of the 90’s, The Craft is definitely on our list of Halloween movies.  Preppy outfits, classic 90’s makeup and hair, and a spooky story that isn’t too scary, this movie has it all.

SCARE FACTOR – 4/10

 

Let us know what you think of our classic Halloween movie list! Do you have any favorites that didn’t make the list?

Grocery Shopping Essentials for Dorm Rooms

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Dorm room pizza

If you’re living on campus and totally sick of the food in the cafeteria or can’t deal with the super limited options available, never fear.  You can easily hit up a grocery store to get the snacks, beverages, and anything else you need!  But finding food that is affordable on a college budget and will last the whole semester can be a challenge if you don’t know what to look for.  And if you’re new to the grocery scene, finding what you need can be a little overwhelming amongst the mountains of food.

Don’t you worry at all – we’ve gathered the five most affordable and delicious foods you can easily snag at your local grocery store.  Without further ado, here is our list of must-have food items for your college dorm.

INSTANT OATMEAL

Super cheap and easy to make, instant oatmeal is the broke college student’s best friend.  You can easily buy a tub of plain oatmeal and your favorite toppings to mix in for less than $5 total, and it will last you for plenty of breakfasts.  And the best part?  This bad boy has a super long shelf life so you can stock up when your parents in town to have enough to last all semester long.

MAC-AND-CHEESE

Super delicious and super cheap, mac-and-cheese is a definite must-have in your arsenal.  Not only is mac-and-cheese super filling and affordable (under $5 a box), but also it makes for the perfect late night snack or hangover food, too.  Stock up on a mega-sized box from your local big-box store and you’ll have the perfect anytime food ready to go.

RAMEN NOODLES

The holy grail of college life, Ramen Noodles are probably the cheapest and most delicious food you can have in your arsenal.  All you need to do is add a little water and nuke it in the microwave and you have a hot and tasty meal (almost) instantly.  A super-sized pack of ramen sells for less than $0.50 each at your local grocery or big box store, making it super affordable, too.

INSTANT RICE

Another must-have for college life is definitely the oversized $5 box of instant rice.  Another product that just needs a little bit of water and a microwave, you can totally cook up a bowl of steaming hot rice in minutes.  Throw a little of your favorite hot sauce in it, mix in some salt, or add ramen noodles (if you really want to get crazy).  Any way you eat it, instant rice is going to taste great.

PROTEIN BARS

An essential for any college student on the go, protein bars are a quick way to get a satisfying snack or mini-meal if you’re running late to class or are in the middle of a four-hour lab.  You can easily buy them in bulk for under $20 a box at a Costco or Sam’s Club and keep them stashed in your dorm for whenever you need them.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Remember, you don’t have to settle.  When it comes to campus food, you can totally skip the trial and error of the cafeteria by hitting up your local grocery store.  Keep to budget-conscious foods like mac-and-cheese, ramen, and protein bars to keep yourself fed and in the green. Trust us – your stomach and your bank account will thank you.

Dealing with Specialty Diets and Food Allergies in College

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When it comes to campus life and trying to balance classes, homework, and an attempt at a social life, what you can eat is often the last thing on your mind.  But if you’re someone who suffers from food allergies or is on a restricted diet, figuring out what you can eat and actually getting your hands on it should totally take priority.  After all, how can you manage everything else if you’re starving or in serious stomach pain?

What if you are trying out the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle? How about a gluten intolerance? Cafeterias aren’t known for being the most friendly to restrictive diets, although they are getting better.

Without further ado, here are our top three tips for dealing with specialty diets and diet restrictions on campus.

TIP #1 – DO YOUR RESEARCH

Step number one is definitely to break out your laptop and do some research on restaurants, cafes, and shops around your campus.  Even your school cafeteria may have some info or reviews online!  There are plenty of specialty websites out there that you can hit up for info depending on your diet or your dietary restrictions. 

If you can’t find any information online, you can always hit up the restaurant itself and ask for clarification on what you can eat.  Knowing where and what you can eat ahead of time will help you feel comfortable and confident when you head out, freeing up your mind to worry about other things instead (like that paper due tomorrow morning you haven’t started yet).

TIP #2 – ASK AROUND

If you can’t find the info you need browsing online, you can totally ask around to figure it out.  Ask your classmates, roommates, professors, anyone.  Someone you know may have the insight that you need to figure out where and what you can eat on campus.

Another great resource would definitely be the staff of your on-campus eateries.  If you’re not sure what you can have, ask to speak to the manager or one of the chefs to get their insight and opinions.  They will be able to provide you with an honest answer on what you can eat and may be able to even incorporate some of your food suggestions into the menu, too! 

TIP #3 – HIT UP THE GROCERY STORE

As always, one of the easiest ways to make sure that what you’re eating fits with your specialty diet or restrictions it to just make it yourself.  If you’re living in an apartment on campus with a kitchen or have access to one, whipping something up for yourself to eat that you know is within your restrictions is totally the safest thing to do.

If you don’t have access to a kitchen or really have the time to cook for yourself, pick up some healthy snacks to stash in your room and bags for when you’re in desperate need of a pick-me-up.  That way, you have something you can eat if you need to in a pinch, like an unexpected late night study session or night out on campus.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Remember, if you have dietary restrictions you can still totally eat on campus.  Just make sure to do your research, ask around if you need help, and hit up the grocery store if you need to for snacks and other goodies.  All of this can absolutely help you feel more comfortable and less stressed on campus!

I Hate My Roommate!

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Roommate playing video games

Maybe you were expecting it, or maybe not. The roommate seemed like such a nice person on move-in day…! They say you never truly know someone until you live with them. There is no harsher reality then moving into your freshman dorm with a complete stranger. You can hit the lottery and find your best friend, or it can seem like a living hell.

Schools use a very flawed system  to make the best matches possible. Information provided on student housing questionnaires just scratches the surface of what it will really be like living with someone. But inevitably — rules will be broken, limits stretched and established habits discarded. Some personalities just don’t click even when everything looks good on paper.

It’s a life lesson.

An annoying roommate can be the first time that young adults have to deal with conflicts that cannot be immediately changed. In the past, if conflict arose, our room at home may have been a safe space where you could get away from everyone for a while. However, with a troublesome roommate this is no longer the case where the small dorm rooms provide little privacy and personal space.

Here are our top 5 roommate conflict tips:

  1. Remember this is a time of transition and adjustment for both of you. Things may work themselves out, if you give it the chance to do so.
  2. Examine your own expectations. Focus on the positive aspects of the situation. This isn’t forever — next year you’ll have more choice and control about where you live and who you live with.
  3. If an issue comes up with your roommate, try to open up a dialogue that can lead to resolution. You may both need to budge a bit. Compromise is a great skill to learn.
  4. Establish clear boundaries in terms of your space and your stuff. It’s a good rule not to share clothing and expensive items.
  5. Get to know your RA (Resident Advisor). They are there to help mediate conflicts and keep the residence hall running smoothly and it will be easier for your RA to support you if you have a friendly relationship.

Ongoing interpersonal conflict in what’s supposed to be a “safe space” can wreak havoc on your academic and personal life. If your roommate situation becomes hostile or causes emotional or physical problems, it may be time to request a new roommate or explore the possibility of a single room.

The good news about roommates

Even with bumps along the way, most roommate relationships are successful or at least tolerable. Stress and drama will be minimized if both parties are willing to communicate and respect one another. The hated roomie may become a dear, lifelong friend after both have grown up a bit during the challenging early months of college.

How to Stay in Touch with College Friends Over the Summer

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college friends hanging out over the summer

Whether you’re going into your first summer break as a college student or are in graduate school, leaving behind the relationships, you spent all year making can be dramatic. But there are ways to take the sting out of the separation. Here’s how you can stay in touch and maintain your college friendships even with thousands of miles between you.

Get a Group Chat Going

If you haven’t already, you need to get your gang on the same page. Group chats through apps like GroupMe, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. are great ways to stay connected when apart — especially if your inner circle has more than a few people involved. Plus, it keeps everyone in the loop without any hurt feelings.

Don’t like the option of chatting? You could always start a private social media group, like one on Facebook. There, share your summer stories, arrange events, or seek out encouragement. The best part is that these groups can be private so what happens over the summer stays in your summer friendship group.

Do a Vacay Swap

Got the money and the time? Why not spend your summer vacation visiting the homes of your friends? This is a great move if your clique is scattered around the country or living their best life in some exotic place. Take out a map, plan a course, and hit the road. It might be the best vacation you ever take.

Send a Care Package

While we like to think of summer as total relaxation — we all know it’s often not. Summer can be stressful with getting back into the swing of things with parents or having to work full-time to afford rent. Your friend may even be stuck taking courses back at school while you’re back at home. If this is the case, be a good friend and send them a package that shows you care. Include items you love, like your favorite drink or a handmade card, and throw in a note on how awesome they are.

Share a Little Love from Home

Speaking of care packages… don’t forget to throw in some mementos from your summer. You can bond without him or her there by your side when you ship them that awesome candy from the sweet shop by your home or that hat from the baseball game you went to. It’s almost like having them with you, and, if anything, it tells your friend that you’re thinking of them even when you’re hours away.

Keep Your Routines

We know we’re going to miss our TV show marathons or our Netflix nights in. But being apart doesn’t mean we have to give all that up! With Skype, we can keep these routines all summer long. Pick a date that works for your friend(s) and share the TV. Press play at the same time and prepare to enjoy a night together.

If your routine is working out with your buddies, stay accountable by using fitness apps to track your habits. You can compete on who runs the longest or who racks up the most miles on the elliptical.

Get Pumped for the Fall Countdown

Of course, the best way to bond with your college friends is to gear up for the school year. If you’re roomies, start planning your next bedrooms by coordinating decor. If you’re in the same academic programs, work on making your fall schedule lineup so you’ll have plenty of time to hang.  And don’t forget to countdown! It’s only a few more months until you’ll be together again.

Universally Stylish Linens

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When you’re in college, life can go by in a blur. With all the hustle you’re going to put in, the last thing that you want to do is worry about if your sheets match or if your bedspread is coordinated with your comforter. Instead of fretting over what’s in style or panicking that your room will never look cool enough, go neutral with color these bedding color schemes perfect for those who want basic — not boring.

Modern Minimalism

For all of us non-decor savvy folks, we’re in luck. This season, minimalism is totally in. The whole “less is more” means no dramatic colors, no clutter, no weird pattern coordinates. Instead, minimalism favors white. If you do add color, go with a throw pillow or blanket in gray or tan. It may sound boring, but it’s a look that looks and feels crisp and modern.

Stylish bedroom with blue hues

Earthy-Neutrals

One step up from minimalism is earth-centered color schemes. Think of the ground, sand, and sea when selecting linens. Every color is muted, but because nothing pops out, it’s easy to coordinate and interchange. Some key colors are sandy tans, rusty browns, hunter or grassy greens, and pale blue.

Vintage Calm

Take a deep breath and relax with a color combo that emphasizes relaxation and simplicity. French blues (a blue that’s a few shades deeper than a traditional sky blue) on white is classic and classy. If you want to modernize it, pick out jersey-type linen in blue and pair it with a softer white blanket or pillow. The mix of textures adds a bonus look to the scheme.

OCM bedding with touches of jewel tones

Touches of Jewel Tones

Some like it hot — hot pink that is! For those who want to keep it interesting and lively, selecting a more modern, simplistic color combo is just not going to get the job done. But instead of going elaborate and making a mess out of your coordinating linens, grab a neutral shade of either black or white. On top of that, add small items to your favorite jewel tone. For instance, we’re digging pastel pink of white or turquoise on black. Have fun and play around!

Royally Goth

Speaking of black, it never goes out of fashion. You can mix black with almost any color, but where it rocks is when it’s matched carefully with its polar opposite — white. Black with white accents (such as black comforters with white lining or black pillowcases with white piping) gives a bed a regal look. It’s a rockstar look at its finest, and you can always layer on a pattern like damask or chevrons to spice it up.

Ocean Inspired

A beach themed bed can be tricky to pull off. It’s a color combo that can go wrong real fast. The trick is to, again, go neutral as your base. White or tan is key for fitted sheets or pillowcases. On top of that, go ahead and layer on the blues. Don’t worry if they’re not exact matches. In fact, go with blues that are far away from one another on the scheme. A light seafoam bed skirt looks great when paired up with a royal blue quilt. Throw in gold or silver touches, and you’ve got a bed to drift away on.

 

Do you like to keep your bed linens a bit more muted? Or do you go all out with splashes of color? These are some of our favorite universally stylish bedding themes. Let us know your favorite looks!

Make Your Own Shamrock Shake for St. Patrick’s Day

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Forget March Madness. There’s only one season that matters this time of year — Shamrock Shake season! That’s right. March is here, and McDonald’s finally has the uber delicious Shamrock Shake back on its menu. Since it’s only around for a limited time, there are not many chances of scoring our favorite green, minty dessert drink. Luckily for us, we’ve found a few DIY versions that hold up to the original. Here’s how you can make your own Shamrock Shakes for St. Patrick’s Day (and beyond).

What You’ll Need

For any kind of shake, you’ll probably want a drink mixer, blender, or hand mixer (if you’re okay making a mess with it). But blenders and mixers can be hard to come by if you’re in a dorm room. Most residence hall rules forbid them. If that’s the case for you, we recommend grabbing a mason jar and canceling your arm workouts for the week.

As for ingredients, your base is simple: 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream (full fat and with sugar is best), 1 cup of whole fat milk, ½  teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 3 tbsp chocolate syrup. To get the green look, you’ll want green food coloring or green sugar sprinkles. If you’re all about the toppings, the classic recipe also has a generous amount of whipped cream and a cherry. You can find all these ingredients at the grocery store.

How to Make

To get the best consistency, let the ice cream sit out for five to ten minutes to soften. You can microwave to speed it up but only do it for a few seconds at a time.

Then, place the ice cream in the blender with the milk, vanilla, and optional food coloring. Blend for ten-second intervals until smooth and drinkable. You don’t want to see chunks of ice cream leftover. If you’re blender-less, place everything in a mason jar with a tight lid and get shaking. It will take a while, so be prepared to feel sore in the morning (it will be worth it).

Add the chocolate to your glass by swirling it around inside before pouring your shake. Top with the whipped cream, sprinkles, and cherry for presentation. We recommend a giant straw to go with it.

Ideas for a Healthier Version

It’s not impossible to make a low-fat version of the shake. After all, eating healthy shouldn’t be eating boring! And besides, who wants to skip out on a Shamrock Shake?

It’s all about finding the right alternative ingredients that still give you the same great taste and flavor. We recommend replacing your ice cream with a low carb version like Halo Top or Arctic Zero which boost low fat, low calorie, and high protein offerings. Mix it with skim or 0% milk for even fewer calories.

Go ahead and skip the toppings, including the chocolate, while you’re at it. But if you still want to make it decadent, let yourself splurge on melted dark chocolate which is rich in nutrients and great for a treat.

After all, everyone should be able to indulge in a Shamrock Shake for St. Paddy’s Day!

Winter Themed Desserts to Make in Your Dorm Room

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Winter is the perfect time to snuggle up in your comfy dorm room getting cozy with some delicious sweets. From chocolate and berries to whipped cream and powdered sugar, there are plenty of winter desserts to indulge in. But the best part is that most of these don’t require an oven and are so easy that you could make it in your dorm room! Here are our top picks for winter-themed desserts.

Cookie-in-a-Mug

Party for one? No problem. You can make a delicious single cookie that goes great with a scoop of ice cream or a cop of hot chocolate. You’ll love it because you only need a mug and a microwave to make it happen.

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 tbsp. butter
    • 1½ tbsp. sugar
    • ½ tbsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 egg
    • 3 tbsp. flour
  • Directions:
    • Spray mug with cooking spray.
    • Melt butter in mug for 30 seconds to soften
    • Add the rest of the ingredients one at a time, stirring until well-mixed.
    • Microwave for intervals of about 20 seconds until cookie has risen and is done.
    • Top with sprinkles, chocolate syrup, powdered sugar, etc.

Chocolate chip cookies

No-Bake Chocolate Cookies

A favorite from childhood, no-bake cookies are perfect for those who are die-hard chocolate fans. These cookies give you a burst of energy and make a good breakfast treat. This recipe makes a dozen.

  • Ingredients:
    • ⅔ cup sugar
    • 1½ tbsp. cocoa powder, unsweetened
    • 2 tbsp. milk
    • 2 tbsp. butter
    • ¼ tbsp. vanilla extract
    • 3 tbsp. smooth peanut butter
    • 1 cup quick oats
  • Directions:
    • In a larger-sized microwave bowl, add sugar, cocoa, milk, and butter. Microwave for about one minute or until bubbling. Microwave for another 30 seconds.
    • Stir in the rest of the ingredients one at a time.
    • Drop spoonfuls on a plate and refrigerate for about 3 hours. Best served cold.

Puppy Chow

Another childhood favorite, puppy chow is a favorite guilty pleasure. It’s such a mess to clean up, but it’s worth it for its chocolate-peanut butter goodness. Your friends will want a bag each.

  • Ingredients:
    • 3 cups rice squares cereal
    • 3 tbsp. peanut butter
    • ⅓ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • Directions:
    • In a microwave-friendly bowl, melt chocolate at intervals of ten seconds (stirring each time you take out).
    • Add peanut butter and microwave for two-30 second intervals, stirring until well-mixed.
    • Add cereal and mix. Pour into a plastic bag and then add powdered sugar. Shake bag until evenly distributed.

Banana Pudding Jar

We always found banana pudding to be uber-sophisticated, especially when done up all fancy in a tall, glass dish. But did you know you could make expensive-tasting banana pudding in a jar with only a few ingredients and a mason jar (or regular bowl)? Seriously!

  • Ingredients:
    • Vanilla wafer cookies
    • 1-2 bananas, sliced
    • 1 packet of banana or vanilla pudding, prepared (or use 2-3 cups of pre-made banana pudding)
  • Directions:
    • Line bottom of your bowl or jar with vanilla wafer cookies as a base.
    • Make another layer of bananas
    • Add prepared pudding on top and alternate with layers of sliced bananas and cookies until at the top.

fruit parfait dessert

Berry Good Fruit Parfait

Berries are all we want come wintertime. Thank goodness there are plenty of berry-themed recipes for us to enjoy. This recipe uses pre-made cake (think leftovers) and blends our favorite fruit and loads of whipped cream.

  • Ingredients:
    • Pre-made cake (including cheesecake) in small chunks
    • Variety of berries such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries
    • Whipped cream
  • Directions:
    • Add a layer of cake chunks to bottom of jar or bowl.
    • Add a second layer of fruit and then top with whipped cream. Repeat until full.

These are just a few of our favorite desserts to make when we are stuck inside on a cold winter day. Make one of these (or all, we won’t tell!), binge your favorite Netflix series and let us know which one was your favorite!

Christmas Decorations for Your Dorm Room

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Christmas decorations on a tree

Seasons greetings! The holidays are almost here, and we are so excited! And sure, we’ve got our minds on vacay, but we’re also dreaming of all the fun ways we celebrate. One of our favorites is decorating. That’s right — just because you live in a tiny dorm room doesn’t mean you can’t get into the spirit. Here are 8 ideas to make your dorm room festive and bright.

Twinkling Lights

The easiest way to give your dorm room a makeover is to change up the lighting. Grab a few strands of Christmas lights and go nuts! Line the ceilings! Make a cool ceiling display above your bed. They’re so inexpensive and easy to find that you can do just about anything with your favorite lights!  

Mini Trees

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a tree! Grab a mini-sized one from your favorite store and add on tiny ornaments. If you’re more of a DIY-er or want a fun party game, you can cut out a large-sized tree and ornaments using felt fabric. Play pin the star on the tree or make ornaments featuring the faces of your friends.

Door Decor

If your residence hall encourages you to customize your dorm door, this is your time to shine! Grab some rolls of wrapping paper and gift wrap it up. Add stockings full of treats for your neighbors or make a chalkboard snowman for friends to write messages on.

Fake Fireplace

You can’t beat a decoration you just turn on! While you can’t have a space heater, mobile fireplace in your dorm room, you can bring in the ambiance by turning your TV into a cozy hearth. Netflix and Youtube offer countless different versions of hours-long fireplace videos complete with soundtracks and carols — perfect for parties or long nights studying.

Snow on the Windows

If you’re a transplant from colder climates or you love the look of snow in the winter, you can make your own using snow spray or frosted aerosol that wipes clean when you’re done. It gives the room a cool, chilly glow, even if it’s still in the 70s or even 80s outside.

Nothing rings in the holiday season like the smell of pinecones

Smelling Like the Season

You can’t talk about the season without discussing all the awesome smells that make you think of holidays at home. From cookies to cinnamon, everyone’s got their favorite holiday scent. Bring in a few flameless candles or use a wax warmer to bring in that homey vibe.

Custom Wreaths

Wreaths are an easy way to decorate your room while also allowing you to show off your personality and creativity. Purchase a base wreath from a crafting store and then use a glue gun to add tinsel, ornaments, pictures, wooden monograms, ribbon, etc. It’s your look, so make it reflect who you are!

Christmas wreath decorations

Burst of Christmas Color

When we think of Christmas, we think of red, green, and white. You can add these pops to a dorm room with throw pillows, area rugs, window hangings, and wall decor. You can also add jewel tones like silver and gold with ribbon wreaths, desk accessories, and lighting. Visit Pinterest for even more color-based inspiration!

Finals can take their toll on your holiday spirits. Ensure that you enjoy some holiday activities and keep the spirit alive by decorating your dorm room. You can keep it within a budget and have the best room in your hall!

Read This if You’re Having a Hard Time Making Friends in College

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Group of girls walking together on an adventure

You’ve made it halfway through the semester, so it probably seems like friend groups have already been established. But if you’re not feeling the love, don’t worry! Making new friends in college can be tough — much harder than in elementary or even high school. It’s totally normal to feel left out or alone when you’re at a new school. If you’re having a hard time making friends in college, we’ve got advice for you to help you establish a new friend group and build some great relationships.

Open Your Doors

One of the coolest parts of college is that, at most schools, dorms encourage an ‘open doors’ atmosphere. In other words, leave your dorm room door open and decorate. Dress up your room, get a cool focal feature, do something neat and fun with your door… whatever you can think of to draw attention to your space. The more open you are, the more likely friends will come to you!

Two friends after their climb

Join the Club

If you don’t want to be isolated, get involved! Find a club that interests you and fits your schedule. Don’t see anything that’s at your level? Look into forming your own group! It could be tabletop gaming or a group to travel into the city and watch plays. Think of what you love and what you want your friends to want to love too and go from there.

If it’s too hard to form an official club, you can always use Facebook events. Advertise around campus and invite your fellow students to join your group. Once in, start some events and see what happens. Even if only one person comes, it’s a win!

Volunteer Your Friend Time

If you’ve got a big heart, you’ll probably want to hang with like, loving minds. Volunteering for causes you care about is a great way to get out there and introduce yourself to new people. From walking dogs at an animal shelter to packaging goods for the holidays, there are endless opportunities for college students to get together, do some good, and build friendships.

Bond Over Food

For introverts, this may be the hardest piece of advice, but sometimes making friends starts with you initiating it. But it doesn’t have to be the terrifying, “Hey! Let’s be friends!” convo. Instead, it could be a simple, “I’m hungry. Are you heading to the cafeteria? If so, can I tag along?” If you’ve got the cash, you can also ask to buy a person a coffee in exchange for help with a difficult class or to talk a professor that’s annoying you. Food is an instant bonder.

Team meeting for group project with coffee

Embrace Group Projects

Is there anything worse than group projects? Probably not. But instead of groaning and whining, look at group work as an opportunity to open yourself up to others. It starts with being a great partner by pulling your weight, making time for the assignment, and listening to other’s opinions. Afterwards, you can all go out and celebrate being done with shared assignments.

Be Yourself Every Day

When you’re not great at putting yourself out there, it can be tempting to want to change your look or personality. But that’s a mistake. Who you are inside is who you should be embracing. People who can’t see how wonderful and great you are are missing out — not you. Continue to be out there, open to new experiences, and positive and the right friends will find you.

College can also be a time to redefine yourself. If you’re nervous or scared in social situations, it is okay. Chances are that many of the people there are as well. Once you are able to do it the first time, it will feel amazing and you will want to continue putting yourself out there. Soon, you will be the talk of the dorm halls!