Celebrating the holidays solo doesn’t have to be lonely

Here's how to make being alone more cheery and bright
By Becky GarrisonPublished on 12/20/2018 at 9:00 AM EDT
The holidays can be the perfect time to unwind! Shutterstock

While this time of year practically screams togetherness, sometimes we may just happen to find ourselves alone during the holiday season. The reasons for our solo status may vary, from the practical (work obligations or lack of money) to the more personal (a recent break-up or unhealthy family dynamics). But just because you’re spending the holidays solo doesn’t mean you need to turn into the Grinch. With a little planning, you can find your holiday spirit! Here are some suggestions for how to avoid getting sad–and increase your cheer!

Create new rituals. For example, make an Advent calendar where you put a line of poetry in every day. By the end of Advent, your poem is completed.

Host a solo slumber party. Stock the refrigerator with your favorite foods and drinks. Put on your favorite PJs. Then settle in for a movie marathon of whatever films tickle your fancy. As the day winds down, consider camping in the backyard or making an indoor blanket fort. As you hunker down, read books by flashlight or download some ebooks on your tablet. If you have a fire pit, then make a backyard fire and roast marshmallows.

Treat yourself to the movies. If there’s a movie on your must-see list that no friends are interested in, go to the movies alone. Dine on traditional movie snacks like popcorn, candy, and soda, or sneak a few holiday treats in with you!

Reconnect with nature. There are a variety of activities you can  enjoy solo, including camping, nature walks, rock climbing, kayaking, soaking at a hot springs, and more. Pick whatever activity helps get you out of your head, as well as one that you can do by yourself safely. Consider adding affirming meditations and visualizations along the way to help enhance your experience.

Plan a mini-artistic retreat. Pick up a pen, musical instrument, brush, or other implement of your choosing. Surround yourself with whatever sparks your creative imagination such as background music, food, essential oils, photographs, or flowers.  And then let go and follow the spirit.

Try a writer’s holiday. Buy a good pen and a good notebook and write a short story or poems about the holidays. Try it in different genres such as mystery, romance, humor, or memoir. Decorate the notebook if you like. If you’re more of the crafty sort, then dive in to that kind of project.

Go for an urban crawl. Live in or near a major city? This can actually be a surprising treat. See the city without the sounds or crowds of all the people usually clogging the sidewalks. It’s surprising how quiet the streets can be on Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Savor some self-care. Weather permitting, go for a leisurely stroll. When you get back home, warm up with your favorite hot drink. Light candles in the bathroom and maybe add in some ambient music. Then draw a bubble bath. And soak. And soak. And soak. Throw in a facial, foot scrub, or whatever else feels luxurious.

Wrap a gift for yourself. On Christmas, unwrap it. For a fun treasure hunt, consider placing small gifts all around the house that you can open throughout the day.

Take a day trip. Contact your state tourist board for a list of suggested one day trips. Take that tour of regional sights like covered bridges, lighthouses, or historical landmarks you’ve been meaning to check out. Select those sights you can enjoy from the outside, as most places will be closed. Pack a picnic lunch so you’re not spending your time hunting for an open restaurants.

Quiet down. If you need to escape the holiday buzz, consider a convent, monastery, or a mindfulness retreat center.  Decide first what kind of experience you want. Do you want to be surrounded by holiday activities or would you prefer a time of silence? If you wish to be silent are there places like a labyrinth, walking trails, or private meditation rooms where you can go to be still? Also, do you want to take your meals in a communal space or eat alone in your room?

No need to be a lonely Jew on Christmas! If you’re a Jewish single looking for something to do on Christmas Eve, see if there are any Matzo Balls in area. These are parties organizations plan on Christmas Eve for Jewish singles.

Take a trip. Money permitting, consider taking a solo vacation outside of the United States, or to a region of the world that doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Flight prices are higher during the holidays but are often lower on the actual holiday.

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