15 Fun Winter Activities for College Students

Winter doesn't have to be gloomy. Lift your spirits and enjoy the season with outdoor and indoor winter activities.

portrait of Stefanie Grodman
by Stefanie Grodman

Published on December 18, 2021 · Updated on December 20, 2021

Share this Article

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

15 Fun Winter Activities for College Students


Winter break allows many college students some additional flexibility to travel, explore creative outlets, enjoy a well-deserved respite from their studies, and celebrate the holidays with family and friends.

Whether you decide to follow age-old traditions or break the status quo, these 15 fun winter activities can help you take a break from academic pressures and embrace the season.

1. Throw a Holiday Party

Holding a holiday party can be a fantastic way to lift spirits and celebrate with friends. Some hosts may prefer small gatherings, complete with classic crooners and cheese platters, while others may prefer top-40 hits, Santa hats, and disco balls.

2. Go Ice Skating

Skating can be another fun way to embrace the season while staying physically active. Many indoor and outdoor rinks hold open skate sessions for the public. Your local rink may even host holiday events, complete with hot chocolate, holiday decor, and fun themes like ugly Christmas sweater free-skate.

3. Watch Christmas Movies

Watching Christmas movies is both a budget-friendly and nostalgic holiday activity. Cozy up under the blanket solo, binge childhood favorites with family, or enjoy modern classics during a movie night with friends.

4. Bake Christmas Cookies

Baking cookies is an age-old holiday tradition dating back to medieval times. The first American Christmas cookie recipe appeared in the 1796 cookbook "American Cookery," while the tradition of leaving cookies out for Santa Claus dates back to the Great Depression. To create the perfect batch to delight your friends and loved ones, follow well-established family recipes or experiment with new varieties.

5. Drive Around to See Christmas Lights

Nearly every city and town has a neighborhood famous for putting in a bit of extra pizazz during the holidays. Driving around during winter in search of the most ostentatious holiday displays is both a fun and budget-friendly activity that can hopefully inspire your own holiday decor.

6. Go Sledding

Sledding isn't just for kids! Students in search of outdoor winter activities hardly need to hit the ski slopes to pick up speed. Many public parks have steep, snow-covered hills that are perfect for sledding.

7. Explore a Nearby Holiday Town

Some small towns are well known for their extravagant decorations and Christmas-themed activities, turning them into popular tourist destinations in wintertime. Those visiting Christmas villages may be able to meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus, shop for toys and Christmas gifts, taste local treats, and even experience unique activities like horse-drawn carriage rides.

8. Decorate Your Dorm or Apartment

Even the most modest student housing can dazzle with the right artistic eye. College students can brighten up their living spaces with lights, figurines, ornaments, garlands, and small Christmas trees. The process of decorating can also be a fun activity to share with friends and roommates.

9. Do Secret Santa With Friends

Holding a secret Santa exchange with friends, neighbors, or co-workers can be a perfect way to ensure that everyone receives a holiday gift. This can be an affordable option for college students on a tight budget, especially if participants set a price limit. Students can get creative coming up with the perfect secret Santa gift within these parameters.

10. Give Back During the Holiday Season

Although receiving gifts during the holiday season is always enjoyable, many college students also enjoy giving back to their communities. Students can take advantage of this time to volunteer or participate in holiday fundraisers. Try collecting goods like clothing, food, toys, and toiletries to donate to various drives.

11. Host a Bonfire

As the days become shorter and colder, hosting a bonfire — complete with food, music, and good company — can be one of the most weather-friendly outdoor winter activities. College students should make sure to practice fire safety by using a fire pit, avoiding high winds, and keeping ample amounts of water nearby.

12. Visit a Ski Resort

During the winter months, it can be tempting to hole up indoors. Visiting a ski resort can be one of the most enjoyable outdoor winter activities for those craving a bit of adrenaline and physical activity. Resorts provide an ideal atmosphere for avid skiers and snowboarders, as well as an opportunity for beginners looking to try something new.

13. Tailgate With Friends

Sports fans and concert-goers will certainly enjoy a winter tailgate. Students can refine their grilling skills, play lawn games, and enjoy the camaraderie. This activity is sure to bring friends and loved ones together even after the holidays come to an end.

14. Learn to Cook a Holiday Dish

Nothing marks the holiday season and the comforts of home like a special meal. Students can learn a family recipe with parents or grandparents as an opportunity for intergenerational bonding or take on a dish by themselves to surprise loved ones. Seasonal cooks can find an abundance of recipes online.

15. Host a Karaoke Night

Whether your loved ones are budding pop stars or hopelessly out of tune, a karaoke night can be a fun and festive way to gather. Karaoke can be holiday-oriented, era-specific, or musical theater-themed. No matter how you orchestrate your musical gathering, a karaoke night is sure to garner some laughs.


Featured Image: FatCamera / E+ / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.