For years I have been the Scrooge friend: the one that sighs at Christmas songs and rolls eyes over decorations. It’s not that I dislike the Christmas period; I just prefer it to be short and sweet. I grew up in a house where we put up our decorations about a week before the big day and I think that has been the signifier for festivities for me – it is too engrained to let go of… Until last year.
I basically lived with two of Santa’s elves during my second year; fairy lights and a Christmas tree was mounted in the living room as soon as December hit, and Christmas songs were being played well before then. Their warmth and joy from the festive spirit seemed to melt my frosty heart and I started to understand why celebrating Christmas earlier when you’re at university is actually the best way to spend this otherwise cold and dark time. As a lot of us head home for the holidays when the semester ends in mid-December, being able to celebrate Christmas with your friends in a bubble separate from your relatives is a really nice aspect of university.
Here’s how you can best spend this early festive season at Surrey.
Guildford Christmas Lights Switch on
Most areas across the UK enjoy an exciting evening to switch on the Christmas lights in the town centre, and Guildford is no different. When I went along to the event in my first year at uni I had an amazing evening. The high street is jam-packed full of locals all there to watch the historic street twinkle with Christmas magic. The balcony half way up the main high street will be filled with special guests and they will narrate the night as it is broadcasted onto big screens further down, near M&S. After the switch on, there is a firework display and then live music will play into the evening, which is a great opportunity to have a boogie as the crowd begins to disperse. This year’s event is on the 21st November – too early? Not for us students. Embrace the magic, enjoy some mulled wine and have an evening away from assignments and deadlines.
Flat Christmas Dinner
We all break up for the Christmas holidays in mid-December, but during the end of this semester we’re all starting to be drained from lectures and assignments – organising a Christmas dinner with your flat can be a great way of reigniting the energy for the past few weeks, and is a nice opportunity to spend some extra time with your pals before you’re all separated for the holidays. Whether you want to cook a classic roast, do a vegan version or skip the hassle and just order a lot of deliveroo as a special treat – anything goes, there aren’t any ‘real’ adults to police the tradition of the meal after all. Buy some crackers and go all out with party games, ugly jumpers and a festive playlist. It’s fun to bring everyone together, with all your different traditions, and merge them to make a bizarre and unique evening.
As well as putting up their own lights and Christmas trees around campus, the university also hosts a few Christmas-themed events that you may want to get involved in. The first two are both early on in December – Wednesday the 4th. The first of which is a trip organised by the Students’ Union to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London. Celebrate the festivities in this snow globe-esque environment by exploring the Christmas markets, ice-skating, or having some cocktails at the ice bar. If you’d rather not make the trek, then on the same day is Santa Moves, a charity event where you can walk or run a 2K in a Santa suit. It’s only £5 to enter – it’s a great laugh and for a great cause!
If partying is more your scene then in the final week of the semester Rubix will be the place for all your Christmas celebrations. On December 18th Citrus will be taken over by the snowsports society: expect fake snow and Christmas decor aplenty. You’ll want to be fast on Tixtu though, this one will sell out fast, as will Flirt on December 20th. This is the official Christmas party, so if you are dying to dance to some Christmas tunes, this is the place to go. Dress up and get excited as you finish the semester with a bang.
The only thing better than watching cheesy Christmas films, is watching cheesy Christmas films with your friends. My housemates and I quite dedicatedly went through a lot of the festive films on Netflix every evening last year. While we enjoyed laughing at The Princess Switch, the Netflix original that surprised us was The Christmas Chronicles – a genuinely fun and underrated film. Last Christmas, with Emilia Clarke, has been hyped up quite a bit on social media and seeing as that has been recently released, why not head down to the Odeon and unleash your Christmas spirit! Another anticipated release online is the Netflix original The Knight Before Christmas. It’ll either be hilarious or painful but experience it when it comes out on the 21st November.
Also, you can’t let this time slip away without experiencing the genuine Christmas favourites with your university mates: Love Actually, The Holiday, Polar Express, Elf, The Grinch – sharing some childhood memories will bring you all closer together, and enable you to make some new memories of your own.
Secret Santa and Present Giving
We all know students are on a budget, so you may have decided to do secret Santa within your friend group, or maybe you’re going for Christmas drinks instead to save more cash. No matter your scenario, you don’t necessarily have to do it on the last day of the semester for it to be worthwhile – if you want to do it while your student loan is still looking healthy, then go for it. Any quality time spent with your pals will always be worth it, no matter its place within the festive season.
Maybe you’re still determined to wait till December 1st to start celebrating Christmas, but I hope you’ll throw yourself into the festivities this year nonetheless. Use this time to let off steam before you lock yourself in the library for those January exams and assignments. Christmas at the University of Surrey genuinely can be merry and bright, as long as you let in the magic.