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Banishing the Winter Blues

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Mar. 26, 2015

It’s that time of year. Winter break is long gone, the thrill of the first snow melted long ago, and spring is “here”, but perhaps without the sunshine and warm temperatures we were hoping for. Even now, with it nearly being April, there is still snow forecast in some parts of the country. Bleh.

So, to counter the feelings of disappointment this news brings us, let’s plan something to look forward to - a party! Here are some of my favorite things to break up the winter ennui: 

1. The Dance Party: 

This is an obvious first choice; it can be done in many ways in any kind of space. Some of my friends made it an annual tradition to throw a dark-light (or glow) party in their dorm suite. All they did was move the furniture, grab a strobe light, distribute glow sticks (These glow stick party ideas may even take your party up a notch.), and create a playlist of upbeat, danceable music. Before we knew it, we had shaken off all our winter blues.

If more traditional dances are more your style, a swing dance party is a great option. My Newman Center had a Swing Dance Society, which welcomed anyone who wanted to try swing dance. For this kind of dancing, it was all about the flowy skirts, suits, black shoes, and classy jazz music. If no one in your group knows how to swing dance (I’m a beginner no matter how many times people show me the moves), pull up some YouTube videos, for a quick tutorial of the basic steps. Another way to add fun to a swing dance is to have your guests dress up according to a common theme (e.g. a black and white affair, The Great Gatsby, or even Downton Abbey).

2. Piñata Fest:

Who doesn’t like a piñata? Last year, my friends and I held our first annual piñata fest. We created a piñata out of a balloon, paper mache, and tissue paper. It was especially fun because we are not piñata experts by any stretch of the imagination. We managed to rig the piñata up on a friend’s basketball hoop after filling it with candy. Besides a few falls from the rope it was hanging on, the piñata worked wonderfully and took us all back to the party days of our childhood when piñatas were all the rage.

Our Piñata Puff

This party was especially fun, because it was very versatile and allowed for lots of creativity. Since my friends and I are going to host this party annually, we will continue to grow it to include more people as well as piñatas.

To make a piñata, your foundation can be as simple as a cereal or shoe box. Cover it with paper and decorate! If you want to get a little fancier, find some old cardboard to make one like ours. Of course, YouTube can be a big help in getting the look you want for your piñata.

Since piñatas are a Mexican tradition, consider also having a Mexican themed lunch, either by making something like tacos, or eating out at a Mexican restaurant. Yum!

3. Party Coffee House Style:

This variation on the classic tea party involves grabbing your favorite mug, and heading to a friend’s apartment, dorm room, or common area for a night of coffee/tea and cookies. Inspiration for this type of party comes from my Newman Center’s semesterly Coffee House, where people would get up and share their talents, hobbies, and silliness with us.

To set the scene Newman Coffee House style, a few tables were loaded with cookies, scones, and drinks, and a stage area was set. If you’re trying this for yourself, I think it’s sometimes nice to dim the lighting and to light candles (if it’s allowed in your building. If not, electric candles or reading lamps work well too). Each guest at this party needs to commit to doing something entertaining, whether it is singing Karaoke, reading a poem, lip-syncing a popular song, playing ukulele, or doing some stand-up. Don’t forget to snap your approval when they finish. Coffee-house style is nice because when the performances are over, everyone can sit down at the tables for a game of Taboo or Catch Phrase.

4. Ice Celebration:

If I can’t beat the cold weather, why not join it in the best ways? You can do this in a big way if you gather some friends and hit the ice skating rink. If there’s no place for ice skating near your campus, a roller skating rink works well too. Top off the evening with ice cream or fro yo from a favorite place on campus and a movie (Frozen, anyone? Other cold weather favorites could include Cool Runnings, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, or Olympic Ice Dancing YouTube videos). Don’t discount Christmas movies. It’s never too early to start watching them. Want to make the evening extra special? I’ve found that making my own ice cream from scratch produces scrumptious results, and is pretty simple. Check out this link to find out how.

5. Indoor Picnic:

I’ve totally done this with friends, and it’s a blast. We pulled out the checkered tablecloth, the plastic utensils, the wicker basket (Okay, we actually didn’t have the wicker basket, but if you have one, use it!) We ate grilled hamburgers on the floor like we would have if we were outside. To make this picnic even more fun, go potluck style, asking guests to bring foods and dishes that remind them of summer (e.g. hotdogs, ribs, taco dip, lemon shake-ups). If you’ve used a grill to make any of your food, consider bringing out the sticks for s’mores. The picnic can be followed by traditional games like three-legged races and the Ping-Pong challenge: a race to see who can get across the room fastest while balancing a ball on a spoon.

Happy partying!