Make the most of your winter break

Aprile Sumague

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The winter season is usually discouraging – people want to stay indoors because of the cold weather, the roads are slippery and wet and many of us get sick during the season.

It may be shorter than summer, but there are a lot of activities to do during winter break, so make the most out of it. Here are a few tips on how to have a fun and memorable vacation with your family, friends and significant others.

Family: The best thing about being away from home is the joy of coming home during winter break to spend time with the family. Mom cooks your favorite dish, dad mounts a new TV in your old room, and little siblings may annoy or entertain you at the same time by asking you to watch their favorite cartoon or play with their pet hamster.

Whatever it is that they do when you go back home, it is always a pleasure to spend time with the people you have not seen for a long time.

It is always fun to reminisce about the good times you have had with the family over a cup of hot cocoa. Invite your cousins, grandparents, uncles and aunts over and talk about family stories – not gossip. Play the family’s favorite board games and watch your favorite movies together.

Everyone wants to have a good laugh, so watch old home videos. It wouldn’t hurt to see cousin Jake’s first dance recital where he slipped and cracked his two front teeth.

Friends: Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, snowboarding and skiing is always fun with friends around. Gather your friends and get a cabin together for a weekend at Big Bear Lake or Mammoth. Right now, vacationrentals.com has a sale going on for mid-week reservations at Big Bear. The average nightly rate is around $250-$450 during winter season, but with the 50 percent discount that they are offering, it will be a lot cheaper than that. The more friends you take, the less expensive it will get.

Aside from snowboarding or skiing your way down the slopes, you can go on the tubes and race against your friends. Throw snowballs at each other, but make sure you don’t hit a stranger. Make snow angels – it will bring out the kid in you. You can also challenge your friends and see who can build the best snowman. At night, light up a bonfire, roast marshmallows and gather around the fire to share stories with your friends and play games like spin-the-bottle or ‘Have You Ever?’

Significant Others: Winter is the best time to just stay in bed and cuddle with our significant others, don’t you agree? But you can’t just cuddle the entire winter break; book a weekend getaway with your significant other. During winter, Catalina Island becomes less crowded, which makes booking a room cheaper than normal. Since the island is somehow deserted during this season, it’s more romantic for couples to enjoy a long walk along the shore.

You might call me biased because this is my hometown, but if you and your partner are looking for a longer vacation during winter season, a trip to Hawaii may be your best bet. Not only is it cheaper to fly to paradise during this time of the year, but you will experience summer-like weather in Hawaii during winter. A round trip ticket for one will cost you around $800 to $1,000 during the summer for a week-long stay in Hawaii, but during winter you will find deals for $300-$450.

For those of you, myself included, who do not get a winter break from their jobs, don’t be upset. Below are tips on how we can make the most out of the winter season even while working.

* If you are of age, invite your co-workers for happy hour. Since there is no homework to do, or a night class to get to, you have enough time to catch up with your co-workers and discuss topics that are not work-related. This will help you get to know your co-workers outside the office environment.

* Lend a hand. Since it’s the holiday season, many organizations plan to offer help to the needy. Volunteer and help out in serving food for the homeless at the shelters. Not only will Santa Claus give you a present for being nice, but the feeling of helping others, especially the ones who need it the most, is the most rewarding feeling ever.

* Learn how to cook a holiday dish and make its debut during the Christmas dinner with the family.

* Get your Snuggie, sit by the fireplace and relax. Take your mind off work, worry about it tomorrow. You don’t normally get “me time” when you are stressed with school and work, so take this time to unwind. Update your journal and jot down everything positive in your life.