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15 things to remember before going home for Christmas

The festive season is here! The John Lewis ad has been on, shops are fully decorated and you're probably thinking about going home for Christmas. Here's what to do before you head off!


Credit: (left) Gkrphoto, (right) Featureflash Photo Agency (background) Aliasemme – Shutterstock

Cranberry sauce, turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes... Father Christmas might as well already be halfway down the chimney.

But before 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 Christmas planning 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 (sorry)!

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

Christmas preparation checklist

  1. Book your travel early

    train tickets

    Credit: Alan Parkinson - Flickr

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

    If you're heading home on the train, remember that the earlier you book, the cheaper the tickets will generally be.

    Plan the dates you'll be travelling (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 because it's so overcrowded!

    Most train ticket websites allow you to book up to 12 weeks ahead – and you can save up to 40% depending on where you're 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

    dog in front of computers

    Credit: Walter Rumsby - Flickr

    If you know you have deadlines just after the holidays, try and get as much done as possible before you head home.

    No one wants to spend Christmas stressing out about writing essays or revising for exams – 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 overpack your suitcase

    full suitcase overpacking

    Credit: Alex SG – Shutterstock

    Bear 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 for 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. You'll need space for any presents you want to bring back to university after Christmas, too!

    "But what about all my gifts?", you say? Well...

  4. Do your Christmas shopping online

    dog on computer

    Credit: Kalamurzing - Shutterstock

    Doing 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 that everything you buy is delivered in time for Christmas Day.

    You'll be super 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 that you won't be rushing around the shops on Christmas Eve looking for gifts with everyone 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!

    If all else fails, you can always resort to rustling up some presents by hand DIY style.

Have a gander at the last order dates for retailers around the UK to make sure your pressies arrive in time for Father Christmas!
  1. Remember to pack all your presents

    neville longbottom harry potter forgotten

    Credit: Warner Bros

    If 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 sister.

    Travelling back to uni just to pick it up is excessive, and mailing it later in the year may be a little expensive. So, in short, remember your gifts!

  2. Take your Christmas decorations down

    christmas elves christmas decorations

    If you've had a tree and decorations up in your student house, 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, only to discover that you still need to take the tree down and hoover all the glitter up.

  3. Make a list of Christmas essentials, check it twice

    to do list

    Make a list of everything you're taking back home (just like the one you make for what to take to uni). This will help immensely when it comes to packing your case again.

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

  4. Switch gas and electric off

    lightbulbs switched on

    Just before you leave to go home, make sure everything is turned off. Electrical appliances? Off. Heating/boiler? Off. Kitchen AND bathroom taps? Tightly closed.

    And remember, 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 utility 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 advice.

  5. Empty the fridge

    broken fridge joey friends

    Credit: Warner Bros.

    The 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.

    If you do come back to stale nosh, don't chuck it away straight away – check out our tips on how to bring back old food from the dead!

  6. Lock up your uni house

    keys in door lock

    Make 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 windows are shut.

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

  7. Don't post about your empty house online

    man doing shush sign

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

    Student houses are 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...

  8. Don't turn into a slob

    fresh meat jack whitehall waking up

    Credit: Channel 4

    For 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 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 that 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 drunkenly wake them up in the middle of the night.

  9. Keys, wallet, phone, tickets

    phone keys wallet

    Just before you go, double-check you have all your important little bits and pieces, such as your purse or wallet, (the all-important) phone, train tickets and your 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 actually go anywhere.

    This stuff happens, and if you've 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).

  10. Try to relax and forget about uni

    ross friends frankie say relax

    Credit: Warner Bros

    Try 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).

    Don't worry too much about impending exams or deadlines. If it makes you feel better, set aside a few days between Christmas and New Year's Eve to go over anything that's been niggling at you.

    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 about your essays.

  11. Avoid getting coal in your stocking

    coal christmas present

    If you do end up forgetting to get some gifts, remember there are some things you can still buy on Christmas Day...

    Finally, remember that Santa knows if you've been bad or good – so be good, for goodness sake! Don't do a Scrooge!

Are you saving that Christmas money to go travelling? Fan-dabby-dozy. Travelling will make your CV look that much shinier – here's why!


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