Wintertime Movies to Decompress from Finals

Photo from

The time from Thanksgiving break to winter break is one of the most challenging two weeks for Penn State students. Whether you have long-form stories or packages, a huge economic exam worth 50% of your grade, or even a comprehensive coding project – you deserve a break.

While you might not feel like you can afford to take a break, you can’t perform your best on an empty tank. Taking a few hours to take care of yourself and do things that make you relaxed will help you sustain energy to finish out these last few weeks.

If you are someone who likes to chill out with a good bowl of popcorn and a cozy wintertime movie, you’re not alone. Penn State students answered what wintery movies they love to relax to and hopefully you can find a film to help you unwind during finals.


This Christmas classic starring Will Ferrell is a hilarious way to indulge in the holiday spirit. A film about the power of believing is a sure bet to give you a push to finish your finals.

Photo from
“Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch”

With three different versions, all with a differing plotline, “the Grinch” is another beloved, classic winter film.

The most recent animated movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch is a hilarious spin on a story we all know and love about a green, grouchy man with a wholesome ending.

Photo from
“Home Alone”

Like the “Grinch,” “Home Alone” also sees themes of robberies during Christmas Time. A tiny 8-year-old wards off two robberies as he is left at home by himself by accident. A funny and timeless tale of young bravery in the pursuit of preserving the holiday spirit.

If you have already. seen “Home Alone,” there are continuation movies like “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” and “Home Sweet Home Alone,” made in 2021.

Photo from
“Love Actually”

This 2003 classic film starring Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley, Alan Rickman and more, showcases different storylines from 10 different people leading up to the holidays.

“It’s a rom-com but centered around Christmas, what more can you ask for? It’s for the whole family and who doesn’t love seeing Hugh Grant in a rom-com?” says Caroline Diaz, a junior studying broadcast journalism.

Photo from
“The Holiday”

Another star-studded film with Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black, “The Holiday,” is about couples that arrange a home swap to escape the sadness that sometimes comes with the expected joy of the holidays.

With themes of long-distance relationships, heartache and more, this movie is the perfect romantic film to get you through the holiday season.

Photo from
“Christmas Vacation”

There is no better movie that shows the strength in pushing past adversity and bad fortune than “Christmas Vacation.” A movie about constant bad luck and things failing at every turn, this 1989 Christmas classic is the perfect film for a cozy night in.

Photo from
“Deck The Halls”

“Deck the Halls,” based on the east coast, is a movie about the superficial aspects of Christmas. Lavish gifts, dazzling lights and showing out for your neighbors are all things that we might be guilty of during the holiday season.

However, this film goes to show that the holidays have a much deeper sentiment than if your house lights can be seen from outer space.

Photo from
“Die Hard”

John Jack Howard, a junior studying biology, thinks that ‘Die Hard,’ while not traditionally a Christmas movie, embodies the holiday spirit. “I think it embraces the Christmas spirit, more than just a winter movie,” said Howard.

Starring Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman in a story about a police officer saving New Yorkers from a terrorist attack at a Christmas party, “Die Hard” is the perfect combination of action and holiday spirit.

Photo from

“He literally saves Christmas for his family from terrorists, what more can you ask for?” says Howard.

“Christmas with the Kranks”

Jamie Lee Curtis and Tim Allen experience what a lot of our parents do when we leave for college – an empty nest. While at first, they decide to skip out on the festivities, they suddenly find themselves putting together a last-minute Christmas when their daughter is coming home.

This movie is a good reminder that no matter what your situation is, the holidays are about love and those who we cherish most.

“The best part is when they are trying to get frosty on the roof,” said “Christmas with the Kranks” lover junior Heather Monachello who is studying nutrition. If you don’t know what part she is talking about, you better watch it!

Photo from

All the movies that the students said are his or her favorites can be found online via streaming sites like Hulu, Disney+, Netflix or others.

Winter movies are best enjoyed with close friends and a nice, steamy drink. Here is a simple hot chocolate recipe that you can make to level up your at-home cinema experience.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Recipe
What You’ll Need:
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream
  • 1-2 tablespoons of sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon of peppermint extract
  • Whipped cream and marshmallows (optional)
What You’ll Do:
  1. In a pot on the stove using medium-low heat, whisk together both extracts, heavy cream, milk, sugar, and salt. Keep on the heat until bubbles form around the side of the pan.
  2. Reduce heat to low and add the chocolate, and whisk until melted. This should take 1-2 minutes.
  3. Pour into your mug of choice and top with any toppings your heart desires!
Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.