Though many college students decorate their rooms or apartments for the holidays, few can say they have a fireplace within the comfort of their dorm room.
Although they used their imaginations to create it, freshmen Tori Wilson and Taylor VanWinkle designed a fireplace out of paper, paint and markers to add a little extra holiday cheer to their room in Solberg Hall.
“We decorated because we wanted the room to be more festive, and we decided that, instead of working on homework, we could make decorations and still consider it being productive,” Wilson said.
Aside from their miniature Christmas tree and lights, most of the decorations in Wilson and VanWinkle’s room are handmade. Among them are the fireplace (complete with candlesticks), stockings adorned with the roommates’ names, popcorn strings and paper chains.
Wilson said the idea of making a fireplace came about while brainstorming decorating ideas.
“It was different than home in that the objects we decorate with at home are actually real, whereas here everything we decorated with was two dimensional and colored in,” Wilson said. “It wasn’t more challenging, necessarily. It’s just more fun because we can include whatever pops into our minds.”
She added that outfitting a room with holiday décor makes it feel more like Christmastime.
“I would say our room has a cheerful ambiance now,” Wilson said.
Freshmen roommates Jessica Boerner and Hannah Lang agree that adding a small tree and lights to a room enhances the holiday feel.
“When you’re on campus, you get so separated from everything else,” Lang said. “When I went home for Thanksgiving it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving until I got home and saw the Thanksgiving decorations up.”
Both girls have traditions of enjoying Christmas decorations at their homes. Lang typically helps her mom trim a giant tree, and says every room in her home is filled with Christmas knickknacks.
Boerner recalls helping with the decorating process when she was younger, but has fallen out of the tradition as she’s grown up.
“I don’t really partake in the decorating, but I like the decorations,” Boerner said. This year, she didn’t feel the holiday’s presence until the Christmas ornamentation began appearing around campus.
“I like the decorations in the commons,” Boerner said. “When they started putting those up that’s when it really started to feel like Christmas.”
Senior Carl Hjelmen said outfitting his dorm room for Christmas helps bring a homey feeling to Augustana. His family usually sets up several trees, lights and village scenes in their home.
“It has always been this great sensation to me: The cold of outside is counteracted by the warmth of an almost candlelight glow from the villages and trees,” Hjelmen said. “It makes everything feel all warm and fuzzy. This feeling tends to get our family closer, and everybody seems to get along better.”
Hjelmen finds the relaxing, cheerful atmosphere particularly helpful during finals time, and has created it here at Augustana by setting up both a small, pre-lit tree and a “Charlie Brown” tree in his dorm room.
“I figure that we now live in the dorms, and that it has kind of become our new homes for the time being. We should really bring our traditions to this new home to really bring the closeness and warmth of home, especially with finals coming up.”