You’ve completed an entire semester of college – congratulations!

While it might seem that just a few exams stand between you and the start of the next semester, ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ does come with its own stressors. Between finding Christmas gifts, navigating that return home to your parents’ place, and adjusting to life in your hometown for a few weeks, there’s plenty to think about as we approach the holiday season.

The good news? From the best gifts for your friends and roommates to tips for acting like a tourist in your hometown, we’ve got you covered when it comes to the holiday season. Take a look below.

Get Holiday Shopping Out of the Way Early
This time of year really sneaks up on college students – especially if you decide to go home early. We recommend making your list of gifts for your friends and roommates early to avoid forgetting anyone. From a bathtub wine glass holder to noise-canceling headphones, College Magazine has the perfect gifts for your roommates and friends – no matter your relationship.

And if you’re struggling with the gift-giving budget? Look no further. Epoch Clemson has shared their budgeting tips for students. The highlights?

  • Use online discount codes
  • Shop your local thrift stores
  • Use your student discount (remember your ID!!!)

Get Organized with Your Study Time
That period between Thanksgiving and Christmas? It feels like the year is already over, but most of the time, you’ve got plenty of work left to do. Exam Study Expert recommends creating a schedule to stay organized. They’ve shared their best tips below:

  • Cross off any days when you know you don’t want to study. It’s important to do this from the outset – that way, you won’t accidentally plan to study on a day that you’ve got another activity planned.  
  • Schedule in ‘study blocks’ with firm end times. When you feel like you’ve got the time, it’s easy to spend an entire day doing something that normally only takes an hour or so. Firm end times will force you to be productive with your time.
  • Share your plan with family and friends. A plan is only useful when you share it! Make sure everyone is on the same page.

Accept that Things Have Changed
Let’s face it: you’re a different person than you were when you left to go to college in August. You spent a whole semester having experiences and getting into a new routine. When you come home, it’s a shock to the system – and you’re often left dealing with one of two situations:

  • Your parents feel like nothing has changed, and continue to hold you to old rules and treat you like the same person you were before you left.
  • Your parents now expect far more from you because they see you as an adult.

For psychologist Sherry Benton, both situations are difficult and require understanding on both sides. In an article for Real Simple, Benton recommends talking it out: “the best way to deal with [these situations] is a conversation, and the biggest thing is to have the conversation about expectations. If no one talks about and kind of negotiates these different sets of expectations, the tension builds and builds and builds until you have some kind of blow up.”

Re-Explore Your Hometown

Time moves fast, and three months away is plenty of time for your hometown to feel like a completely different place. Re-exploring your hometown is a great way to remind yourself of all the good parts about being home. The experts at Apartment Therapy share their best tips for rediscovering the magic of your hometown:

  • Act like a tourist. Sometimes this means going to your town’s information desk or doing some research about the ‘best things to do’ in your area. Start a list, and tick them off.
  • Use a different mode of transport. If you normally drive around your city, try the bus or a walking tour. A different perspective can work wonders.
  • Head outdoors. Is your area known for a certain natural marvel, such as a lake, mountains, beach, or hiking trails? Get outside and enjoy these new experiences.

The holidays can be stressful, but with a little forward thinking and organization, you’ll be sure to appreciate all the joy in the season.