Spending the holidays alone can be rough.
There are so many reasons why this happens. The kids have grown up and are with their own families; ex-spouses have the kids for the holiday; and, despite letting up a little, COVID is still running rampant in many parts of the country.
Sound like you? First: I’m sorry. Second: There are still things you can do to make the holidays a positive experience, even if you’re alone! These 10 options will lift your spirits, keep you from feeling alone, and perhaps become new traditions.
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Few things are more rewarding than donating your spare time to a cause you believe in. If you don’t have any commitments to spend the holidays with family or friends this year, contact your local soup kitchen, retirement community, or animal shelter and see what volunteer opportunities are available.
2. Host an “Orphan Dinner”
If you’re spending this holiday season alone, chances are you know some other “holiday orphans.” Why not spend the holidays together (safely, of course!). You could host a potluck dinner, game night, or other gathering with your friends who are also alone this season.
3. Treat Yourself to a Mini-Vacay
Have you been wanting to get away somewhere, stay in that fancy hotel, or finally get out to the mountains? Use this solo holiday as a time to finally have that perfect getaway! Nothing gets me more excited than traveling, and a little getaway would be well worth the price of spending the holidays alone, IMO. In need of getaway ideas? Get some inspiration here.
4. Zoom in to Your Fam’s Celebration
Ah, Zoom. If you’ve managed to stay off the Zoom bandwagon for this long, get ready — you’ll definitely want to hop on it this holiday season! My family lives on the other side of the country, so I love getting together with them over Zoom and playing games or just catching up. Remember, even if you’re physically alone this year, you can still get that quality time in with loved ones (thanks, tech!).
5. Treat Yourself to Dinner and a Movie
This is one of my favorite ways to pamper myself. I’m a total foodie, so if I know I’m going to have a particularly rough day, I’ll plan to order food so I have something to look forward to. I can get through literally any day if I have my favorite takeout, wine, and a movie to look forward to! Even little treats like this can make any day so much more special, so this is the perfect recipe for a lovely solo holiday.
6. Plan to Fully Celebrate Later
Who says you have to celebrate holiday traditions on a specific day? If you can’t make it home for the holidays, maybe you can make a trip on a later date — celebrate then! Or, even better, just make that your second holiday celebration, and do some of our other recommendations on this list for your solo celebration. I’ll take literally any excuse to celebrate, so this sounds like a top-notch idea to me!
7. Finally Start That DIY Project
It’s the age of Pinterest, people, so I’ll be shocked if you don’t have at least 2-10 DIY project ideas hanging out in the back of your brain. What better time to do them than the holidays? Paint that wall, make that jewelry, get that sewing machine, finally become a plant mom — do something you’ll be proud of when it’s done, and it’ll be totally worth flying solo this season.
8. Indulge Yourself
This might be my favorite tip on this list, because I’ll use any excuse to indulge myself. Don’t go too crazy, of course, but plan a day of your favorites. Create a mini-spa in your home, finally buy that expensive wine you’ve been dying to try, take yourself on a little shopping trip, eat your favorite junk food, lounge around in a fuzzy robe all day — let yourself sink into whatever simple indulgences will make your day extra special.
9. Do Your Holiday Traditions Anyway
You can still keep up with your traditions solo! Especially food traditions. Make your favorite classic holiday breakfast, watch that holiday movie you watch every year (A Christmas Story, anyone?), listen to your favorite holiday music and open presents, even if they’re from yourself!
10. Have a Plan!
No matter what you decide to do, you definitely don’t want to wing it this holiday season. Having a plan will give you something to look forward to and will ease some of the anxiety of spending the holidays alone. The bottom line here is to plan to do whatever will help you enjoy this solo holiday season!
How You Shouldn’t Cope
The above are fantastic ways to cope and celebrate the holidays. Whether we cope well or not, we work to focus on the positive. We want to make the most of every day (although we don’t always succeed), and we do work to make the most of the times we are able to have together (even if it’s a “Santa-sanctioned” Christmas that’s two weeks early). But sometimes it’s easier to cope by drinking more than usual, isolating yourself even more, refusing medication or therapy, or simply staying in bed all day.
If this sounds like you, I must emphasize: it’s important to grieve, but it’s also important not to dwell. If you’re struggling, go to therapy. It can be difficult to open up about loneliness, but having the tools to cope when you’re struggling is crucial to maintaining your mental health.
And don’t cut yourself off from the rest of the world. While you may not be in person, there are still computers and phones, as we mentioned above! It can be easy to isolate, whether you’re protecting yourself or loved ones from your depression, but talking to those you love is a boost of dopamine when you’re feeling down.
Christmas, and the whole holiday season, is (or can be) whatever we make of it. We can do what works for each of us, given the factors that really are outside of our own control. It’s our own brand of perfect.
How do you celebrate the holidays when you’re alone? Share with us below!
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