Are you spending Christmas alone this year? It’s not uncommon for empty nesters to find themselves alone during the holidays, whether that holiday is Thanksgiving or Christmas. As our children grow up, they have other claims on their Christmas holidays. They may need to stay and work, for example, or visit a spouse’s parents.
It’s okay to feel sad about being by yourself on the holidays. I feel your pain. For years, as a single mom, my kids and I would open gifts on Christmas Eve and then they headed out the next day to spend a week with their dad.
My first Christmas alone was pretty rough, but I eventually learned ways to cope with the loneliness of a solo Christmas and to even have fun as well.
If you’re worried about feeling lonely over the festive season, these 25 tips can help you find joy this holiday season, even if you’re spending Christmas alone.
- 1. Acknowledge Your Feelings About Being Alone at Christmas
- 2. Plan Ahead
- 3. Ask for an Invitation
- 4. Find Some New Friends to Celebrate With
- 5. Arrange a Virtual Celebration
- 6. Volunteer
- 7. Play Santa
- 8. Bake Some Holiday Treats for Your Neighbors
- 9. Offer to Pet Sit
- 10. Don’t Skip Your Favorite Holiday Traditions
- 11. Do Skip Traditions You Don’t Enjoy
- 12. Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane
- 13. Attend Religious Services
- 14. Get Active Outdoors
- 15. Reach Out for Support Online
- 16. Stay Off Social Media
- 17. Start A New Hobby
- 18. Have a Movie Marathon
- 19. Celebrate with Christmas Dinner
- 20. Take a Day Trip to a New City
- 21. Take a Vacation
- 22. Have a Self Care Day
- 23. Treat Yourself to a New Christmas Outfit
- 24. Spend Some Time Getting to Know Yourself Again
- 25. Plan Your Goals for the New Year
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1. Acknowledge Your Feelings About Being Alone at Christmas
We often have high expectations for the holidays. It’s normal to want to share this joyous time with other people, such as our family members and extended family. And if you don’t get the holiday experience you are looking forward to, it’s completely normal to feel sad.
It’s actually easier to get past your own feelings of sadness if you acknowledge them. Focus on self-compassion and talk to yourself with kindness, rather than berating yourself for being alone. It might help to talk your feelings out with someone who cares about you, such as a close friend, family member, or a therapist.
2. Plan Ahead
If you’re dreading spending Christmas alone, make a plan for the day ahead of time. If you wake up on Christmas Day without some type of planned activity, you’re likely to spend the day moping around the house and feeling sorry for yourself. That’s no way to celebrate Christmas!
Look over the suggestions in this post and plan to try one or two of the ideas that appeal to you. Then, make sure you have everything you need before Christmas. For example, if you’re going to bake cookies, be sure to have all the ingredients on hand. Many grocery stores are closed on Christmas Day.
3. Ask for an Invitation
Your friends or family may not even realize that you will be alone this year. Why not ask a friend if you can join them this year? You’ll probably find that they would love to have you celebrate with them.
You could even try posting a notice at your work asking if anyone else will be alone on Christmas Day and offering to organize a communal get together. That’s a great way to get to know some new people.
4. Find Some New Friends to Celebrate With
You aren’t the only person alone at Christmas. In fact, there are probably quite a few people in your area who are spending the holiday by themselves. Find them!
Meetup Groups are life-savers to those of us alone at the holidays! Many groups help people find more friends to hang out with during the holidays.
One group I belonged to had a Christmas Day potluck every year. And, thanks to Meetup, I once spent Thanksgiving Night at a comedy show laughing at turkey jokes instead of sitting at home crying into my leftovers. You’ll find that there is a group for any interest.
5. Arrange a Virtual Celebration
I couldn’t spend time with my family last Christmas. Like many families during the pandemic, we decided it wasn’t safe to travel and spend time in large groups.
But we still got together to celebrate via Zoom. I had a late afternoon Christmas party with my extended family and we all showed off our favorite gifts and toasted to the new year when we could see each other once again.
It’s a cliche, but it really helps take your mind off your own loneliness when you reach out to others. And it’s so empowering to be working with other people to bring something good into the world.
Check with your local food bank to see if they’re hosting a holiday dinner you can help with. Check out VolunteerMatch for opportunities in your area or check the local free weekly paper and see if you can’t find something there.
7. Play Santa
Did you know that the U.S. Postal Service runs a service called Operation Santa each year? People who cannot afford to buy Christmas presents write in with their wish list and people who want to help others can select a letter, buy and wrap the gifts listed, and then mail it to the recipient.
It’s just a small way to add a little love to your own Christmas time. On Christmas morning, you can think of the joy people are receiving from your presents.
8. Bake Some Holiday Treats for Your Neighbors
If you are feeling lonely this Christmas, why not spend Christmas Day baking some of your favorite Christmas treats and gift some to your neighbors. (These Italian Christmas Cookies are delicious and easy to make.)
Making another person happy is a great way to combat the social isolation you may feel when you’re alone.
9. Offer to Pet Sit
If you’re dreading your Christmas alone, why not spend Christmas with man’s best friend? If you don’t have a pet of your own, you can offer to pet sit for a friend or neighbor and you’ll have plenty of furry companionship and cuddles.
10. Don’t Skip Your Favorite Holiday Traditions
Don’t skip your favorite activities just because you’re alone! If you love decorating your house for Christmas, don’t skip it this year. Last year, I buried my sadness at being away from my loved ones by going overboard with Christmas decorations throughout the house.
Think I’m kidding? I’m not.
I had a great time making some of my favorite Christmas crafts. And my crafting projects actually helped me feel connected to my family when I shared photos of my projects with everyone.
11. Do Skip Traditions You Don’t Enjoy
If you’re alone on Christmas, the only person you need to please is yourself. Let’s say your family likes to get up for breakfast and presents on Christmas morning, but you like to sleep in. Well, guess what? This year, you can sleep as late as you want.
12. Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane
I like to spend some time during the holidays looking back and appreciating the good times I had during the year. Go back through your photos from the year and relive some of your favorite days. Share some of your favorite memories with your loved ones so you can stay connected even if you can’t spend Christmas together.
13. Attend Religious Services
Even if you’re not especially religious, attending services on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve can be a wonderful way to feel connected to others. Many churches and other places of worship have special Christmas services with singing and readings that can really get you into the holiday spirit.
14. Get Active Outdoors
Exercise is a proven mood-lifter, especially if you can do something outdoors. If you’re feeling sad and lonely, getting active outdoors can help you get away from your thoughts and improve your mood.
Take a walk through a local park, go ice-skating at your local rink or even take a hike if it’s not too cold outside.
15. Reach Out for Support Online
There are so many active Facebook groups these days just for empty nesters and women over 40 and 50. Simply search for “empty nest” in the Facebook search bar and join the ones that look promising to you. I can guarantee you’ll find some online friends who are eager to chat, even on a holiday.
16. Stay Off Social Media
I know, I literally just said to look for Facebook groups to connect with friends online, but use your social media wisely on Christmas Day. Social media can be a wonderful tool for staying connected, but it also has the potential to make you feel really lonely.
If viewing pictures of your friends and family celebrating together is going to make you feel sad and left out, then just stay away. Spend time with other activities instead of getting caught up in social media.
17. Start A New Hobby
Find something new to occupy your mind on those lonely days or nights over Christmas by starting a hobby. Skillshare offers video classes in almost anything you might want to try: photography, cake decorating, watercolor painting, you name it.
18. Have a Movie Marathon
Here’s your chance to watch anything you want without having to compromise. Pop some popcorn, get cozy on the couch with your favorite snacks, and spend the day watching movie after movie.
You can watch your favorite Christmas movies or bring your favorite Netflix show. I’m a huge fan of really dark Nordic murder mysteries and I love the opportunity to sit down and really get into a show without interruption.
19. Celebrate with Christmas Dinner
Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of a delicious Christmas dinner just because you’re alone. You’re the honored guest, so be sure to serve your favorite food.
I like to cook a traditional English Prime Rib dinner, complete with Yorkshire Puddings and my favorite desserts. But even Fried Chicken from KFC can bring joy if that’s what makes you happy.
If you don’t feel like cooking, head out to your favorite restaurant instead. Many places offer special Christmas menus that are just to die for.
20. Take a Day Trip to a New City
The holidays are a wonderful time to visit a new place. The city is less crowded and you can wander about taking in the sights on your own. Find a few fun things to do and make a day of it! Seeing the Christmas lights in a new city is an extra special treat.
21. Take a Vacation
Sometimes the best way to get away from the holiday stress is to leave town. If you have some time off, you could escape the cold weather and take a trip somewhere warm and sunny. A short break from your usual routine could be exactly what you need to lift your spirits.
22. Have a Self Care Day
A solo Christmas is the best time to pamper yourself with all of your favorite things. If you want to stay in all day and play board games alone while drinking mulled wine and eating leftover Christmas cookies, well, that’s absolutely your prerogative. Just make sure you’re enjoying yourself!
Make sure you’ve got the most comfortable set up and all the snacks and drinks you need. My perfect alone day involves lots of books and movies gathered for the occasion. I can catch up on my reading, watch all the dog shows, and fall asleep on my comfy couch during a Harry Potter movie.
You don’t have to do anything special or extravagant; just taking the time for yourself can be incredibly healing.
23. Treat Yourself to a New Christmas Outfit
There’s no need to feel down because you’re not celebrating with family and friends. Get yourself a festive outfit for the day.
I’m a huge fan of velvet for the holidays and you can style velvet outfits to be casual or dressed up so they’re good investment pieces. I spent last Christmas lounging around in a velvet jumpsuit. It was so comfortable and helped the day feel special at the same time.
Holiday Outfit Ideas
24. Spend Some Time Getting to Know Yourself Again
You may spend Christmas alone. But you are spending it with the most important person in your life: yourself. Spend some time thinking about what really makes you happy and what you want out of life.
I’ve got a free book filled with journaling activities designed to help you to get to know yourself again and find out just who you really are now that you’re no longer just a mom. These exercises are designed to help you pinpoint your goals and create a vision for your life. What better time to focus on yourself than when you have the gift of some alone time?
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25. Plan Your Goals for the New Year
I like to take the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day to plan out my goals and wishes for the New Year. I journal about the prior year, focusing on what went well and what didn’t. Then, I journal about my hopes for the new year and make a vision board to help me remember my goals. I’m always energized and motivated when I’m done.
Remember to be gentle with yourself this Christmas season. If you’re alone on Christmas Day, you may find it hard to cope with the loneliness. So be sure and focus on what you need to do to be happy. Whether it’s taking a vacation somewhere warm and sunny, having a self care day where you enjoy yourself by doing whatever makes YOU happy, or finding new ways to make Christmas seem special for just one person – there are multiple ways you can still enjoy a happy and blessed holiday.