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How to Prepare Yourself to Go Home for the Holidays

Going home for the holidays is always strange, whether you just finished your first semester of college or you've been out of the house for years. Spending weeks in your childhood bedroom while your mom keeps an eye on you is hard to get used to, especially when you've grown accustomed to coming home when you like and eating popcorn for dinner.

To help with having the best holiday possible, it's important to prepare yourself to go back home, or even be around family again. Below are a list of things you can do before your trip to make sure you're as prepared as possible, plus a bunch of resources on what to do with your time besides Netflix binges.

What to take with you

Books you wont be using

Save space in your dorm room by taking back the books you won't be using once the semester is over. If you don't think you'll be using them ever again, you can try selling them online, otherwise I recommend taking them home to clear space for next semester's books.

Clothes that isn't season appropriate anymore

Winter is coming, meaning there's no need for you to hold onto all your summer clothes until next season. Bring home with you anything you won't be wearing for the next few months, but be sure to store it somewhere memorable so you can pick it all back up during spring break.

Items you packed but never used

Everyone packs items for college that they never actually use. In my case, I packed way too many novels and desk accessories. Anything you haven't used all semester should be taken home to free up space in your room.

Related Post: 10 Things You Don't Need to Pack for Your Freshmen Year of College

What to do once back home

Plan with friends ahead of time

Dividing your time between friends and family can be difficult, which is why it's better to plan ahead of time so you don't miss out on the chance to see either. Talk to friends ahead of time to pick a day you can all hang out, this way you can all make sure to leave that day and time free of any plans.

Make time to see family

Even though hanging out with friends may sometimes feel like more fun, chances are you make more of an effort to keep in touch with them year round. Make sure to spend a some time with just family, doing so with give them the opportunity to catch up with you and vice versa.

Give yourself some time to do nothing

Maybe this is just me, but I need at least one day a week to do absolutely nothing. Choose a day, or a couple, to spend some time at home doing nothing more than lounging or catching up on your favorite TV shows. Giving yourself the time to relax is important after a long semester of reading assignments and exams.

Things to do once you're home

Celebrate the holidays with your best friends

The holiday season doesn't have to be limited to just your family. If you're looking for ways to celebrate with your friends, click here for ideas of things to do at every budget.

Related Post: How to Celebrate the Holidays With Your Best Friends

Dates to go on with your boyfriend

In certain parts of the country fall is still in full swing. Fall date ideas are an easy way to figure out what to do on your night out without the hassle of arguing whose turn it is to choose.

So tell me, when's the last time you went home for Christmas? For me it was four years ago, and I'm pretty sure my mom still had me on a curfew. 

How to Celebrate the Holidays with Your Best Friends

The holidays can be stressful enough, but not having anyone to celebrate with can make them all the more anxiety inducing. If you're a student who is far from home during the holiday season or just someone who no longer lives close to home, celebrating doesn't have to be limited to the traditions you once did with your family.

To avoid spending the holidays alone, or just do something before you all split ways, pick a few friends in the area to do all your holiday activities with. Whether you have a full weekend to fill or just a night of festivities, choose any of the activities below to celebrate Christmas with your best friends.

Related Post: The 12 Best Things That Happen in the Month of December

1. Organize a classic movie marathon

Have each one of you choose your favorite holiday movie from your childhood and host a classic movie marathon. You can provide snacks or have everyone bring their favorite candy/food to share.

2. Then watch some terrible made for TV movies

The holidays are known for their terrible made for TV movies, which is why you have to watch at least one this holiday season. Lifetime and ABC Family are great networks to find the perfect movie to make you cringe till you laugh.

3. Bake together

Sure you can buy dessert ready to eat at your bakery, but what's the fun in that? Pick up a box of mix, or better yet, try doing it from scratch.

4. Visit the ice rink

Most cities have ice rinks during the winter months, even though that never see real snow. Find one in your area and be sure to wear plenty of layers if you don't know how to ice skate. It helps to soften the landing for when you eventually fall on your butt.

5. Host a gift swap

If you're a little low on cash this season but still wanna swap gifts, opt to do a gift swap. Instead of buying everyone a gift, draw names out of a hat and put all your effort into the person you chose.

Related Post: 12 Important Lessons from 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' for Twenty Somethings

6. Take a holiday picture

Who says holiday cards are just for families? Maybe you don't have to get the photo professional printed, but it could at least have a place on your fridge.

7. Have a gingerbread house competition

Stores like Target sell ready to make gingerbread houses for less than the price of a movie ticket. Plus, you can do this activity while having your movie marathon.

8. Go ugly sweater hunting

Big box stores have really taken the fun out of ugly Christmas sweaters. Spend an afternoon visiting your local thrift stores and find an ugly Christmas sweater that would make your grandma proud.

9. Attend a nearby festival

Here in the city different neighborhoods host free to attend holiday festivals throughout the month of December. Go on your city's website and see what is happening in your area.

10. Take a day trip somewhere

If your city isn't hosting anything or it's just nothing you're interested in, consider taking a day trip somewhere nearby. Ideas could range from going to a Christmas tree farm, renting out a cabin or visiting the nearest place that gets snow in the winter.

How do you like to celebrate the holidays with your friends? Drop any ideas in the comment section below!

December Goals + Ending the Year Strong

What I'm about to say is going to sound completely ridiculous but it's the truth, I swear. I bought one of those Happy Planners over Thanksgiving weekend and I have never been so motivated. It's basically already the new year in my apartment, or at least that's the level of motivation I'm feeling.

Something about having an excuse to use stickers and color code the shit I usually like to ignore has me pumped for the month of December, so I'm going to hold onto this feeling for as long as I can.

During the month of November I set goals, both blog related and personal, to keep me accountable for the things I wanted to get done. Being that I'm writing this post on November 28th, I technically still have three more days to wrap up anything I left unfinished. Below is a quick recap on how I did on my November goals, plus my realistic goals for the month of December.

November Goals: So how did I do?

Increase page view by 2,000 > Success
Not only did I increase my page views by over 2,000, I actually met my yearly page view goal! This one I want to scream from the rooftops because I would have never predicted this could happen after a five month hiatus. 

Write more about me > Fail
So I didn't technically publish any personal posts, life got in the way a bit, but I did write some pieces that I'm excited to publish in the new year.

Update my popular posts page > Success
When I started drafting this post I realized this had fallen to the back of my mind, but thankfully I created a new one just in time. Click here to see the updated popular posts page.

Go on a hike > Success
Mission accomplished. After the election that left the country in shock, a few girls and I unplugged for a few hours and hiked through Rock Creek Park.

Sort through my closet > Success
This took days but I'm so glad I took the time to do it. My next project will be to sell anything of value and donate the rest to a local charity.

Plan at least one meet up per week > Success
Even though I wasn't able to see the girls every week, I made sure to plan enough meet ups for the month of November. December is currently packed with events to help with the feelings of not being around friends and family during the holidays .

December Goals: Ending the Year Strong

Blog Related Goals

Increase page views by 15%

December has always been a great month for my stats, with my gift guides for every type of guy and boyfriend's parents pulling in views with no effort. With a few more similar posts coming out soon, I'm hoping to make this my most successful month this quarter.

Publish one personal post

Last month was a fail, so I'm setting a more realistic goal of one personal post. Gonna pencil this is all over my new planner to make sure I don't forget or avoid it.

Promote my top performing posts

Gotta get those page views somehow, so I'm thinking of ramping up my pins and possibly creating a Facebook ad for my gift guide on what to buy your boyfriend's parents.

Everyday Life Goals

Use Happy Planner entire month

Research shows it takes 21 days to learn a new habit, so what better month to train myself to be more organized than December? I spent a good chunk of money on my Happy Planner, so I'm going to pray to all the deities that I don't toss it in my junk drawer by February.

Start thinking about resolutions for 2017

Resolutions have been a big deal to me since 2012. It was that year that I believe I truly set up my life to be what it is today. Because I care so much about yearly goals, I like to plan them early, which is why I wanna have my resolutions written down before New Years Eve.

Host event for members who cant go home for the holidays

I mentioned last month how a run a group for twenty somethings in the city, mainly girls new to the area who are looking to build a social support system. With so many people leaving the area for the holidays, I cant think of a better time to host a low key event to combat the lonely feelings that come with being in the city during the holidays.

So how about you, do you have any goals for the month of December? If so, leave a comment below with one of your goals or better yet, share you secrets on where to buy all those amazing planner stickers I've seen all over Instagram!

A 10 Step Plan on How to Have Your Best Year Ever

I never Black Friday shop, partly because up until a few years ago I lacked the money to buy anything, but mostly because my mother was a firm believer in the idea that if you cant afford it, you must not need it all that much. So I don't really Black Friday shop, unless going the next day to fuss about the mess left behind counts.

This year my sister and I braved the crowds at the only store we knew would be empty, Michaels Arts and Crafts. We needed Christmas lights and figured why the hell not, we're young but also old ladies at heart, so we chose the most calm store imaginable. While there I realized I didn't do too well with my yearly resolution, not terrible, but not to my standard either. Knowing exactly why I had failed to meet my goal, I decided to do something about it now. I bought a planner,  one of those fancy ones that come with stickers and pocket folders.

As I flipped through my planner I figured there was a lot more stuff I could do to make 2017 more successful, cause let's face it, I think everyone gets a pass for 2016. Overall it was kind of a crap year, beginning to end.

If you're looking to make this new year your best year yet, or get a head start on your New Year's resolution, take these ten steps to set yourself up for success. You can substitute any step to better tailor it to your goals, or go the extra mile and just add on to what I've created. Skip whatever is gonna stress you out or isn't necessary for you, because this is about starting the year on the path to your best year ever. 

1. Declutter your closet

Decluttering my closet was a goal I set for the month of November, and while the task took hours, once I was done I felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Minimizing your wardrobe not only leaves you with options that you love, it clears space for new pieces while giving you the opportunity to donate the clothes you no longer want to those in need. 

2. Change something big in your living space

My apartment layout has been the exact same since I first moved in. If you're not looking to change address but want a change of scenery, take an afternoon and reorganize your living space. Simply shifting your furniture or finally getting around to hanging up your gallery wall can make your home feel like new.

Related Post: 8 Inexpensive Ways to Make Your Apartment Feel Like Home

3. Make one thing easier for yourself in the new year

I'm a firm believer in the idea that small annoyances can add up to a bad day, so when you have the same daily issues you're setting yourself up for failure. Do something now that will make your days in 2017 easier, such as auto reloading your commuter card, unsubscbing from that newsletter that fills up your inbox or setting up auto pay on a bill your always forgetting to pay. 

4. Choose a resolution/goal before others do

Choosing your new years resolutions, or better yet, goals for the new year ahead of time not only saves you the stress of having to think of one on the spot, but also allows you to prep for whatever you want to accomplish. For example, because one of my goals is to be better organized in the new year, I took the step to buying a planner in December to start practicing getting in the habit of writing things down. 

Related Post: 10 Important Resolutions Every Twenty Something Should Make

5. Remove something from your life

If you ask me I think we have a little too much of everything nowadays. Friends we don't really care for, clothes we never wear and photos on our phone we'll never post. Remove something from your life you no longer need, whether that be because it takes up space or brings no value to your life. 

6. Complete a challenge

Challenges are a great way to get yourself motivated, as long as you choose one that you can commit to and set a reasonable goal. Some of my favorite challenges are the 40 bags in 40 days challenge, quitting soda or candy for a week, or committing to seeing friends at least once a week. Choose a challenge that aligns with your goal for the new year, and try it out to see what areas you need help with most. 

7. Identify your one regret this year

Stop and think for a second, what do you wish you had accomplished by the end of this year? Can you still reach that goal, and if not, what can you do right now to get one step closer? If the goal is still important to you, add it to your list for the new year, and if not, don't get discouraged just because not everything went the way you planned. 

8. Find your squad

Friends are the best motivators, and by motivators, I mean they're pretty great at telling you to get off your butt and get to work. Find someone who will push you no matter how many excuses you list, plus one more with a similar goal as yours. Having a friend with a similar goal gives you an accountability partner, plus someone to bounce off success stories with year round. 

9. Be cheesy

I'm gonna tell you something I've never admitted to anyone else, the reason 2012 was my most successful and productive year was because of one big thing, I was cheesy AF. I spent the entire year surrounding myself with quotes I found on Pinterest, reciting my goals in the mirror and constantly encouraging myself to not give up. It was weird at first, but after a few weeks it's what kept me motivated when progress slowed. Be cheesy, write your dream with lipstick on the bathroom mirror and become your own biggest motivator.

10. Talk to your future self

When I wasn't busy talking to myself in the mirror or pinning quotes on how travel changes your life, I was taking the time to talk to my future self. How exactly? Well I wrote myself a couple letters. It's easy to give up on a goal when you forget just how important it once was to you, which is why I wrote a letter to myself four, eight and twelve months from New Years Day. Doing so gives you enough time to make progress between each letter, while also reminding yourself why you set this goal in the first place. 

I want to know what your biggest goal is for the upcoming year! On top of that, what's one thing you can do this week to help make your dream a reality?
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