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It's official: Christmas music is playing in shopping malls and grocery stores nationwide, so it's time to get out those lights, ornaments and stockings and decorate for the holidays.

Though college living might not be the fanciest — or most permanent — living situation, there are some students who have tried to make their current abodes as homey and holiday ready as possible.

Carlos Ramirez, a senior event management major, is planning on getting a real Christmas tree, pine needles and all, to get into the holiday spirit.

"I love Christmas," Ramirez said. "It's my favorite time of year. I'm that guy [who] when they start playing Christmas music for the first time at Wal-Mart every year, I get so excited."

Along with the tree, Ramirez said he and his roommates are decorating with mini presents, stockings and the like. But going all out doesn't have to break the bank, Ramirez said.

In fact, many of his decorations came from either Wal-Mart or dollar stores. To really get the best deals, Ramirez recommends doing some strategic shopping as well.

"Always go to the stores the day after Christmas when everything is on sale," Ramirez said. "You can buy stuff for 60 to 70 percent off. You can use it for next year and you save some money."

While some are decorating to get in the holiday spirit, others are decorating to make their apartments feel a little more like home.

Samantha Marginean, a junior forensic science major, will be staying at Knights Circle for most of the break, so she and her roommates made sure to make their apartment as homey as possible.

To make this possible, Marginean and her roommates used window decals, small red bows, Christmas-themed stickers, garland and lights, among other decorations.

They also each decorated a stocking and hung it on a wall.

"We decorated the stockings together as roommates while drinking hot chocolate, so it was a fun thing to do together," Marginean said.

But decorations, if not applied properly, can cost you when move-out time comes and nail holes or paint chips rack up charges.

To prevent this, Marginean decorated only using command hooks, push pins and tape.

"Decorations were really easy because they were either peel-and-stick or just hung on a hook," Marginean said.

Decorating an apartment might be hard enough, but imagine decorating a whole house.

Members of the Theta Chi fraternity on campus recently decorated their on-campus house for ΘXmas, a philanthropic event that raises money for Knight-Thon.

Gerard Lemongello, a sophomore biomedical sciences major, and Lucas Lotz, a sophomore business administration and finance double major, were both responsible for setting up the lights this year, an endeavor that took 26 hours in total, Lemongello said.

To decorate such an expansive space, including the roof and back courtyard of the house, roughly 50 boxes of lights were strung and attached using zip ties, staples and duct tape, with much of the reported $315 spent going toward extension cords.

Regardless of whether you're decorating a house or an apartment, Lemongello's advice is universal.

"Plan it out early. Make sure you have an idea of how you want to do it," Lemongello said.

So whether students are looking to save money while decorating or raise it for a charity, UCF will be sporting some more festive colors as temperatures drop and the holidays draw near.

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