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15 things to remember before going home for Christmas

The festive season is here! The John Lewis advert has been on, shops are fully decorated and you're probably thinking about heading home for Christmas.
buster the boxerBefore you pack your bags and say your goodbyes to your uni friends and flatmates for a few weeks, there are a few things you need to remember!

Make sure you have this checklist covered so you can chill out, pig out and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year!

There's nothing quite like heading ho, ho, home!

Stuck for gift inspo? Check out these thoughtful gift ideas for less than a fiver!

Your Christmas checklist

  1. Book your travel ASAP

    ticketsIf you haven't sorted out your travel already, make sure you do it now!

    If you're heading home on the train, remember that generally the earlier you book, the cheaper the tickets will be. Plan what dates you will be traveling (try to be flexible and avoid peak times as much as possible) and reserve yourself a seat as soon as you have a date in mind.

    You'll be grateful for the seat when you see people resorting to sitting on bags of presents cause of overcrowding!

    Most train ticket websites allow you to book up to 12 weeks ahead – and you can save up to 40% depending on where you are travelling to and from.

    The same applies if Megabus or National Express coaches are more your style, as you don't want to miss out on a seat.

    Read our guides on cheap train and coach travel for more money-saving tips!

  2. Get as much work done as you can before you leave

    paperworkIf you know you have deadlines just after the holidays, try and get as much as you possibly can done before you head home.

    No one wants to spend Christmas stressing out about writing essays – and chances are when you're full up on turkey and Christmas pudding, you won't be in the mood to work anyway.

    Getting ahead means you don't have to worry that the work won't be complete, and you can relax and enjoy yourself.

  3. Don't over-pack

    Overpacked carKeep in mind that you're only heading back for a few weeks, and there is a washing machine where you're going. Ask yourself if you really need to take half your wardrobe with you!

    You'll be grateful of this pointer when you're watching other poor souls dragging their suitcases through a busy train station and trying desperately to cram it onto a rammed coach or train carriage.

    Take it from us, train stations close to Christmas are not pretty. The last thing you need is the extra stress of squeezing a massive case onto a busy train.

    But what about all my gifts, you say?…

  4. Shop online for presents

    catttDoing the majority of your Christmas shopping online saves a whole lot of time, effort and space in your suitcase. Just make sure you're on it asap so everything you buy is delivered home in time for the 25th.

    You'll be so grateful for being spared the task of carrying all the presents home, not to mention avoiding the risk of breakages along the way.

    An additional bonus is you won't be rushing around the shops on Christmas eve looking for gifts with all the stressed husbands who left it all to the last minute. Just make sure your parents or siblings aren't tempted to peek at the parcels before you get there!

    Use our very own Christmas gift ideas list, or check the student discount directory and deals pages to pick up some great value presents.

  5. Remember what you've bought

    brainIf you have done some Christmas shopping while at university, don't forget to pack your presents!

    Similarly, buying everything online can get a bit confusing and difficult to keep track of since you won't see what's delivered. Make sure you take note of everything you buy in a gift list, otherwise you'll end up with double the gifts for granny and nothing for your dejected little sis.

    It would be too much of a pain to travel back to uni to pick it up, and mailing it later in the year may be a little expensive.

  6. Clear your room of festivities

    decsIf you've had a tree and decorations up in your student digs, as painful as this might sound, you may want to think about taking them down just before you head home.

    You don't want to come back in January with the post-Christmas blues to discover you still need to take the tree down and hoover all the glitter up.

  7. Make a list, check it twice

    listMake a list of everything you're taking back home. This will help immensely when it comes to packing your case again.

    When you get home and take everything out your luggage, everything blends in making it easy to forget what you actually need to take back (whatever you do, don't forget your flat keys! We've all been there).

  8. Don't waste electricity

    offJust before you leave to go home, make sure everything is turned off – including anything electrical, your household heating, and make sure all water sources are closed tight.

    This includes turning things off standby. You might want to unplug everything to be extra sure.

    You don't want to come back to a mass of scary bills when no one has even been at home over Christmas, or suffer that wave of panic where you're 200 miles away but think you've left the iron on. Also, if you're living in shared accommodation, get everyone to do the same in their rooms!

    If you want more tips on how to save on electricity over winter, then check out our energy saving article.

  9. Empty the fridge

    beerThe worst thing you can do is head home for three or four weeks, only to return to milk that's turned to cheese. Make sure the fridge is completely empty before you go. You'll thank us for this later!

    The fridge will absolutely stink if you don't, so make sure that you use up those student Christmas dinner leftovers before you head home.

  10. Lock up securely

    locked upMake sure all windows and doors are locked. If you're in shared accommodation, make sure that everything in your room is locked away safely, and that the window is shut.

    If you are super worried about your items, double-check that you have them covered with some decent contents insurance.

  11. Keep schtum… capiche?

    shhDo not announce online to the world that you are going away for weeks and your house will be empty.

    Student houses are a prime targets for burglaries, so don't make it easier by letting the world know you won't be there.

    You never know who you can trust these days…

  12. Don't regress when you get home

    famFor many students, Christmas is the first time they'll be heading back home since summer – especially if you moved to a uni on the other side of the country.

    Try to remember that although your family will be so happy to see you, they've just gone three months without you living at home, and you've probably adapted to living away from them, too.

    Make every effort to fall back in line with how your parents expect you to be in their home, and accept you've both probably changed a little during your time away.

    In a nutshell: Do your own dishes, wash your own socks and don't wake them up drunk in the middle of the night.

  13. "Spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch"

    essentialsJust before you go, double-check you have all your important little bits and pieces, such as your purse or wallet, phone, train tickets and laptop.

    It sounds stupid – but you don't want to get to the train station only to find out you don't have the tickets to get on the train with. This stuff happens, and if you bought an advance ticket, the odds are that you'll need to buy a brand-new one on the spot which will cost a bomb.

  14. Frankie says relax

    Frankie-Says-RelaxTry to relax and enjoy being back home. Christmas is a lovely time of the year and it's great to spend that time with your family (if you get the chance).

    Try not to worry about impending exams or deadlines when you get back to uni.

    After all, you may not see your parents again for a little while, and you don't want to spend the whole Christmas period whining about being stressed with your essays.

  15. Avoid getting coal in your stocking

    coalFinally, remember that Santa knows if you've been naughty or nice – so make sure you're on your best behaviour!

Anything we've forgotten to remind you of? Make sure to remind us in the comments below!

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