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Guides & Tips

Winter Break Bucket List

Alice Hakvaag January 1, 2018

Ah, winter break – we all worked hard this last cold month, and it’s finally time to sleep in and stay cozy. But faced with all this free time, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed trying to figure out how to spend it. Check out some tried and true activities, foods, movies, and places to visit to make your winter break the best one yet:

Movies

While you could take the next few weeks to binge watch your favorite TV show for the third time, you also could try these suggestions to cuddle up with:

“White Christmas” (1954): If you really want to get into the holiday spirit, try sitting down with the classic movie White Christmas. It’s a hilarious musical about four performers who try to keep a ski lodge from going under by performing in it over the holidays.

“The Little Prince” (2015): If a musical isn’t quite your vibe but you still have kids in the house, try sitting down to The Little Prince. It follows a young girl as her next door neighbor, an elderly pilot, takes her on a magical journey. Netflix currently hosts this great movie, and the animation is truly spectacular.

“Brimstone and Glory” (2017): Want to come back from winter break and seem more cultured than you are? Sit down with a documentary one night and impress your teachers with your knowledge. A good holiday watch is Brimstone and Glory, an easy hour-long documentary about the the San Juan de Dios festival in Tultepec, Mexico. The big draw of the festival is the almost absurd amount of fireworks that are on display. If you aren’t doing anything for New Years Eve, put this on and you’ll feel like you’re celebrating in Times Square.

Books

I know the semester is over and no one wants to read for a good while after finals, but there’s nothing like enjoying a good book next to a fireplace (or a heater, whatever you have is fine). NPR puts out a list of the best books they’ve reviewed throughout the year, all sorted by genre. It’s a large, comprehensive list, and while everyone’s tastes are different here’s a few of my favorites:

“An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and an Epic” by Daniel Mendelsohn: If you are a history fan, or took any kind of mosaics or theater history class, you probably know Homer’s “The Odyssey,” the Greek epic following a soldier coming home from war. Daniel Mendelsohn ends up following the Odyssey’s trail through the Mediterranean with his father, and the result is a funny memoir as well as a historical recount of Homer’s story.

“My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness” by Nagata Kabi: This graphic novel is an autobiography following Nagata Kabi as she struggles with her personal health and happiness versus what her parents and culture expect of her. The art style is simple, cute, and endearing, which helps her as she talks about some very deep, thoughtful topics like her sexuality and mental health.

“Swimmer Among the Stars”, by Kanishk Tharoor: For fiction lovers, try this collection of short stories from Kanishk Tharoor. Short stories are always perfect for picking up while you wait for a big holiday meal, and Tharoor’s writing is beautiful. The collection features stories with inspirations from all over the world, and is a great read for any time of year.

Recipes

The reason I love winter break is because you can eat the heaviest, warmest meals of the year with no guilt at all. Nothing’s better than being warm inside while outside it’s snowing! Try these hearty recipes for your holiday dinners:

Lasagna Soup: This heaven-sent dish combines all the best comfort foods: cheese and noodles and tomato soup. (And, it’s a one-pot recipe, so minimal cleanup!) The recipe uses hamburger meat and chicken broth, but having made it myself you could very easily take out the hamburger and use vegetable broth. http://carlsbadcravings.com/easy-one-pot-lasagna-soup/

Brownie in a Cup: Not only is this recipe another easy clean-up, but all the ingredients are easy to find in your cupboard. My personal tip: add a dash of coffee mix to deepen the chocolate flavor. (This is coming from someone who normally doesn’t like the taste of coffee!) http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/microwave-chocolate-mug-brownie-349246

Hot Chocolate: Impress your family with these clever, delicious variations on a classic hot chocolate recipe. Whip up a hot chocolate mix, then add ½ tbsp. sugar, 2 oz dark chocolate, and ½ tbsp. of grated orange zest for a delightful citrus-hinted cocoa. For your vegan friend, combine one cup of vanilla almond milk, 1-1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, and 2 tsp coconut palm sugar. Top your drink with marshmallows, whipped cream, cinnamon or caramel -have fun experimenting!

Places to Visit

Now that we don’t have classes during the weekdays, go visit those awesome destinations in Philadelphia that you’ve heard so much about. If you’re in the mood to go ice skating but don’t feel like going to City Hall, hit up the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest in Penn’s Landing, open on weekdays now through March 4th. The Winterfest also has great food and arcade games. It’s free to enter and individual events have small fees.

If you aren’t feeling the holiday spirit, try the Mutter Museum in Center City. The Mutter Museum is filled with oddities of the human body, such as exhibits of conjoined twins and slides of Albert Einstein’s brain. The museum offers a student discount and $2 off tickets on Mondays and Tuesdays.

One of my favorite things to do is see a show by Philly Improv Theatre. PHIT hosts hour long shows every night of the week, ranging from improv based on Shakespeare to Christmas shows. It’s located in the Adrienne Theater – check out their schedule here: http://phitcomedy.com/shows/.

Once you’re recovered from finals, take some time to have fun. Whether you end up staying in with a good book and hot chocolate or go out and explore sights in Philadelphia, stay warm and have a great holiday season!