As West Lafayette starts to get colder, we begin to welcome a new season. A season in which our chilly weather blues are comforted by fireplaces and cups of hot chocolate. A season that makes pink noses look just as cute as pink roses. A season that places the occasional snow underneath your boots, so much so that it starts sounding like an old familiar beat, and you can’t help but feel like dancing. A season that comes with relaxation.

Ahhh yes, it’s almost winter break in West Lafayette!

Whether you’re breaking for the holidays from school or work, this time of the year brings loads of excitement! However, it’s not always that cheery and bright. This season can also come with the extra stressors of spending.

Thankfully though, because of the happenings in West Lafayette, it doesn’t have to be that way.

I challenge you to look at my list of how to make West Lafayette into your own Winter Wonderland, without spending any money!

1. Purdue Memorial Union

A group of Purdue students pose in front of the 2018 Purdue Memorial Union decorated tree.

Every year, the Purdue Memorial Union “decks its halls” in celebration of the holiday season. Starting Dec. 2, a tree, lit from head to toe, is the focal point of the entire setup. Find yourself getting lost in the traditions of the Union- as every year they set up unique (and large) gingerbread houses, and host numerous (free) events throughout the month of December. To see how you can access these free events, check out the Union’s schedule here.

Purdue Memorial Union: 101 North Grant Street. 6 a.m. – 12 a.m, Monday – Sunday. Free parking can be found at all on-campus garages after 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday.

2. The West Lafayette Library

The West Lafayette Public Library sign.

Hidden among the large collection of books, sits some of West Lafayette’s friendliest faces and souls, actively working to connect the community. During winter break, you can find some group oriented fun at 208 W Columbia St. by:

  • Joining the West Lafayette Library in the free viewing of “The Man Who Invented Christmas” on Dec. 9 at 6:45 p.m. in its Elm & Walnut room. This viewing, part of their WALLA & Friends Film Series, will get you right in the holiday mood, as this movie takes you on a journey about Charles Dickens and how he wrote and created the tradition of A Christmas Carol.
  • Volunteering! The public library is always looking for more “Friends of the Library” volunteers who help with book sales and the set-up and take-down of events. Nothing better than making this winter a wonder for others as well! Volunteer information can be found here.
  • Want to enjoy your winter wonderland with some solidarity? With a library card you have the freedom to get lost in a novel, an e-book or an audio book, for free.

3. Sledding on Slayter Hill

Even if you prefer not to be in the snow, one can at least appreciate how Lafayette winters give us a lot of flexibility to have fun with it. Slayter Hill has earned itself the title of being one of the most popular sledding spots, and rightfully so, as the hill serves to be just steep enough to get any kind (and any size) of “sledder” going. There’s free parking on top of the hill, so as long as the weather isn’t too cold, find yourself a fun filled afternoon on Slayter Hill- no matter your age.

Across the street from the right side of France A. Córdova Recreational Sports Center, 355 N Martin Jischke Dr.

4. Walk around Purdue University

Purdue Memorial Union in the winter.

Although the fountains turn off on Purdue’s campus once cold weather strikes, beauty can still be found in the white snow that transforms the brick buildings into something worth seeing. Perhaps it’s the drastic contrast of colors, but right after a fresh new coat of snow, and with a hat on my head and a scarf wrapped around my neck, a walk around campus can be uplifting to my soul. Whether you bring some friends or family with you, or make it a solo trip with your favorite Spotify playlist, I recommend walking around some of these key places to see Purdue turned into a Winter Wonderland (and perhaps you too can capture a shot in front of the Union or on the snow covered steps of Hovde Hall!):

  • Memorial Union
  • Hovde Hall
  • John Purdue Statue and the Hello Walk – Memorial Mall
  • Unfinished P – Stewart Center
  • Bell Tower – Wilmeth Active Learning Center

5. Window Shop till You Drop!

One of my favorite things to do on a break is to find something to look forward to once my joys of having time off comes to an end. Since I was a little girl, this always translated into clothes shopping with my mom. We would always go and she would always treat me to a nice, new outfit to return back to the “real world” in. To me, it had served as a page turner, so to speak. However, now that I’m older and have to be wiser about money, I have found new joys – especially when I am creative and not touching my wallet!

I now love to look at stores and search for inspiration. I love to look at the new styles and designs, and think of creative ways I can transform what I currently have into what I see. Perhaps while I’m there, I will find a deal or too; however, that’s not my purpose.

One of my favorite places to “window shop” and find inspiration at is Dawson & Daisy Boutique. They always have trendy clothes and cute easy to re-create outfits.

Dawson & Daisy Boutique: 350 E State St Suite B, West Lafayette, IN 47906. Monday – Wednesday, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Thursday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Winter break marks the beginning of new beginnings. It’s the transition between seasons and the opportunity to truly explore.

And, it certainly doesn’t have to be expensive to enjoy it.

This was just a short list of free things to do to make your winter break into your own Winter Wonderland! Be sure to check out the Home of Purdue’s website for more things to do this Winter Break. Mary Christinsen, Purdue University Student, shares this blog.