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15 things to remember before going home for Christmas

The end of the year is in sight. As the uni term starts to wrap up, it's time to start thinking about going home for Christmas. Here are the key things to remember.

Suitcase with santa hat

Credit: Alex SG, PinkPueblo – Shutterstock

Cranberry sauce, turkey, festive decorations... It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

But before you pack your bags and head off, there are a few things you need to remember. Make sure you have this Christmas planning checklist covered. After that, you can relax and fully enjoy your time off this December – you deserve it.

There's nothing quite like heading ho, ho, home (sorry).

Stuck for gift inspiration? Check out these thoughtful gift ideas under a fiver.

Christmas preparation checklist for students

Here are the essential things to remember before going home for Christmas this year:

  1. Book your travel as early as possible

    train tickets

    Credit: Alan Parkinson - Flickr

    If you haven't sorted out your travel already, make sure you do it as soon as you can.

    If you're heading home on the train, remember that the earlier you book, the cheaper the tickets will generally be. Most train ticket websites allow you to book up to 12 weeks ahead. You can also save up to 40% depending on where you're travelling to and from.

    Plan the dates you'll be travelling (try to avoid peak times) and reserve yourself a seat as soon as you have a date in mind. This also applies if you want to travel with Megabus or National Express coaches. You don't want to miss out on a seat.

    We've got guides on cheap train and coach travel for more money-saving tips.

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

    If you know you have deadlines after the holidays, try to 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. The chances are, when you're full up on turkey and Christmas pudding, you won't be in the mood to work anyway.

    Try to get your work finished with plenty of time to spare. That way, you can unwind and properly enjoy yourself at home.

  3. Don't overpack your suitcase

    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 of your wardrobe with you.

    You'll be grateful for this pointer when you're watching other students dragging their suitcases through a busy train station. The last thing you need when going home for Christmas is the stress of squeezing a massive case onto the train.

    Plus, you'll need space for any presents you want to bring back to university after Christmas.

    Our next tip should also help you reduce your packing...

  4. Do your Christmas shopping online

    You'll be grateful for being spared the task of carrying all the presents home. And, of course, you'll avoid 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 last-minute Christmas gifts. But 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 homemade presents.

    Check the last order dates for UK retailers to make sure your gifts arrive on time.
  5. Remember to pack all your presents

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

    Make a note of everything you buy in a gift list. That way, you can keep track of what you've packed. This will stop you from filling up your suitcase, only to wonder if you definitely did remember to pack that small gift somewhere below all your other things.

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

  6. Take your Christmas decorations down

    christmas elf decorations

    Do you have a tree and decorations up in your student house? As painful as it might sound, you may want to take them down 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 up all the glitter.

  7. Make a list of Christmas essentials

    Make a list of everything you're taking back home. It can be a bit like the one you made for what to take to uni. And, of course, check it twice.

    This will help when it comes to packing your case again before coming back after Christmas.

    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...

  8. Switch gas and electrics off

    Just before you leave to go home, make sure everything is turned off. Electrical appliances? Off. Heating/boiler? Down to 7 degrees to stop the pipes freezing. Kitchen and bathroom taps? Tightly closed.

    And remember, this includes turning things off standby. It's worth unplugging everything to be extra sure.

    You don't want to come back to a huge utility bill when no one has even been at home over Christmas. This way, you can also avoid the 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, ask everyone to do the same in their rooms.

    For more tips on how to save on electricity over winter, check out our guide filled with energy-saving advice.

  9. Empty the fridge

    One of the worst things is coming back from three or four weeks at home, only to find your milk has turned to cheese. Make sure the fridge is completely empty before you go. You'll thank us later.

    The fridge will stink if you don't. And use up those student Christmas dinner leftovers before you head home.

    If you do come back to stale food, don't chuck it away straight away. We've got a full guide on what foods you can eat past their best.

  10. Lock up your uni house

    keys in door lock

    Make sure all windows and doors are locked. If you're in shared accommodation, everything in your room should be locked away safely. And don't forget to close the windows.

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

  11. Don't post about your empty house online

    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. Don't make it easier by letting the world know you won't be there.

  12. Don't turn into a slob

    For many students, Christmas is the first time they'll be heading back home since summer. This could be you if you moved to a university 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. 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. You'll have to 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.

  13. Check your keys, wallet, phone and tickets

    Just before you go, double-check you have all your important bits and pieces. This includes things like your keys (for your uni and family homes), purse or wallet, phone, train tickets and your laptop.

    It sounds obvious, but it's very easy to arrive for the train, only to discover that you don't have your ticket with you or forgot your 16–25 railcard.

    If this happens and 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 lot).

    You can avoid this by getting a digital railcard and buying an e-ticket on your phone. But, make sure you fully charge your phone so you can access them during your entire journey, and remember to log in to your railcard app before you leave!

  14. Try to relax over the Christmas holidays

    man with green face mask

    Credit: Light-Studio – Shutterstock

    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 can.

    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 more urgent.

    After all, you may not see your parents again for a little while. And, you don't want to spend the whole Christmas period feeling stressed about exams.

  15. Avoid getting coal in your stocking

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

    Just don't pull a Scrooge, or you might end up with coal for Christmas (don't say we didn't warn you).

    Remember that gifts don't need to be expensive to be special – putting in any thought at all will go a long way. Merry Christmas!

Looking for gift inspiration? Have a look at our list of the best Christmas presents to buy this year.

Laura Brown

WRITTEN BY Laura Brown

Laura Brown, Head of Editorial at Save the Student, is an award-winning writer with expertise in student money. She project manages influential national student surveys and has presented findings to MPs in Westminster. As an expert on student issues, Laura has been quoted by the BBC, the Guardian, Metro and more.
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