Whether you’re spending the holidays alone because you’re far from family, don’t have any, or you’ve chosen to go no contact, it can be tough. This time of year, that’s hyped to be filled with joy, tradition, and merry memories can feel like a lot of pressure when you don’t have anyone to celebrate with. It can feel like there’s a giant magnifying glass being pointed at you. Leaving you feeling lonely and isolated. But here’s the thing, if you’re celebrating the holidays alone… well… you aren’t alone! Here are 5 ways to make Christmas memories and embrace the joy of the holiday season.
Create Your Own Traditions for Spending the Holidays Alone
When we imagine holiday traditions, they often reflect what we’ve seen in Hallmark Christmas movies. Joyful families with mugs of hot cocoa singing carols around the tree or baking cookies (for the neighborhood baking contest of course). And when you’re flying solo, it can feel a bit pointless to partake in traditional activities, but that doesn’t mean you should skip it. Do the things that bring you joy this season. You can even consider some creative ways to modify them to make them more special.
- Drive around to check out the holiday lights and post photos of your faves on social media (feel free to tag me @upcycledadulting, I LOVE this stuff).
- Challenge yourself to make the longest string of popcorn you can while binging holiday movies and drinking cocoa.
- Bake those cookies and donate some to a neighborhood shelter. (You can find a local shelter here)
And, while we’re on the topic of neighborhood shelters, one of the best ways to feel less lonely and give back this holiday season is to volunteer. Whether you offer to serve food, help with clean up, or work in the shelter Christmas store (we have those here), you can be of great service. If you love Christmas crafting or baking, consider volunteering at an elder care home instead and sharing your talents. Just because you don’t have family or friends nearby doesn’t mean you have to be completely alone this holiday season.
Make Your Favorite Meal for the Holidays
When we live on our own it’s easy to get into the rut of grabbing a sandwich or can of soup for dinner every night. It can feel a little pointless to cook a whole meal for just one, especially a holiday meal. But, it’s important that you do. Here’s the thing, you deserve to be nourished and well cared for too. So, take the time this holiday season to prepare your favorite meal. You don’t even have to make it a holiday feast. If your fave is salmon, or banana pancakes, or grilled cheese with tomato soup… have at it. Just make the effort to make something special for yourself.
Create an Alternative Holiday Celebration
Keep in mind that December 24 & 25 are simply days on a calendar. There is nothing inherently special about them. While many are booked and busy on these days you may find that they are available on others. Alternative holiday celebrations give you the opportunity to enjoy the holidays with others without the hustle bustle of the actual day and you can instead schedule a little R & R those days.
Plan a cookie exchange before the holidays or a white elephant or brunch for after. I’ve found that a lot of people really enjoy getting together between Christmas and the New Year to complain about the holiday may lay and the annoying in-laws which might just make you a bit grateful to be alone on the holidays.
And if it’s important to you to have somewhere to go on the actual holidays, reach out to your friends and community and let them know. MANY families’ welcome loners at their holiday table (I know ours always does). You may be surprised by the flood of invites you receive from even acquaintances. I once spent Christmas day with a family of complete strangers that I met by chance, and it was one of the most memorable and magical experiences I’ve ever had during the holidays.
Gift giving and receiving is one of the many joys those spending the holidays alone often miss (though they may not want to admit it). It doesn’t make you materialistic or petty to miss this holiday tradition, it makes you human. That’s why it’s so important that you gift yourself this holiday season. Whether it’s a tangible gift, experience, or a day of pampering, you deserve to treat yourself.
Remember that if you were spending the holidays with others, you’d be spending that money anyway so stop feeling weird about spending it on yourself. One fun way to do this is to set a goal to get yourself a few things early in the year, wrap them up and store them with your Holiday decorations. Get them out on Christmas Eve so you have something to open in the morning. You’ll likely have forgotten the details of the gift and it will feel like more of a surprise and a treat.
Enjoy Cherished Memories
For most the reason for being alone on the holidays is loss. Whether it’s due to the death of loved ones, the grief of going no contact, or simply living far from home and feeling like you’ve lost your foundation, being alone can bring up a lot of painful feelings, ones we’d rather avoid and might feel guilty for experiencing at the holidays. Rather than resisting this consider leaning in. Honor the memories and intentionally engage in things that bring them forward. The truth is, they’re unavoidable and the more you try to resist, the more difficult it will be. So, whether you have a favorite tradition you used to share that you maintain or you simply journal about your memories or write a letter to the one(s) you’ve lost, do something to touch base with those memories, especially the good ones.
I am very busy through the holidays and not at all alone (now), but I often find myself feeling incredibly lonely, sometimes grief stricken, and frequently anxious. Being alone on the holidays doesn’t necessarily equate to loneliness and being surrounded by others doesn’t negate it. Sometimes just knowing this can be comforting. If you struggle with the holidays you’re definitely not alone. Don’t try to resist, simply comfort yourself and give yourself what you most need this season. And if what you really want is more joy… well… being alone doesn’t have to be a wet blanket on your holiday spirit. Get curious about what it means to you to have a happy holiday season and get busy creating it!
For more tips to break out of a holiday funk, check out this post.
Love the idea of getting something early in the year & storing it to open Christmas morning – it will be s surprise!
It really does help add a little magic to the holiday season and it works for any holiday. So, I hope while you’re out grabbing a Christmas gift for yourself you grab something for your birthday too!