Christmas is busy. It’s hectic, expensive and just a bit of a hassle. For a lot of people, it’s also lonely. But you don’t have to be, here are my tips on how to not be alone at Christmas. Bonus tips for things to do even if you are alone!
Every year on boxing day I think “Whew, another year till we have to do this again!” and then before I know it a whole year as past and once again we’re preparing for Christmas. In some ways, I consider Christmas the end of the year rather than New Year’s Eve. I definitely care more about Christmas.
As a kid, Christmas just sort of happened. There was no real planning involved, the few things I did have to do were fun, such as decorating the tree or counting the presents. Now, however, Christmas is one of the busiest and most stressful times for me. Living abroad means I need to navigate my way home in the rush of holiday flights, trains and the inevitable delays caused by bad weather.
I considered not making the trip home and spending Christmas in Budapest this year. But even with the hassle of travel and the short amount of time off I’m able to leverage, I decided going home was still the best option.
And I know how lucky I am to have that option. That, at the end of the day, I have my family waiting to see me, and the means to go and see them. But there are so many people that don’t get that option.
Over the past few years, I’ve learnt there are so many reasons why someone might be alone at Christmas. So many I can’t even list them all. What I’ve learnt is that it’s more common than you would think, and being alone at Christmas doesn’t mean you’re failing in any way. It can feel like that, with the general trend on TV and adverts of Christmas being a time of jolly cheer with a big family. But’s not like that, and people spend Christmas in all sorts of wonderful ways.
Decide if you mind being alone
First of all, there are a lot of people that want to be alone on Christmas. Or rather, they don’t feel the need to not be alone. That choice is a perfectly good and valid one. Sure it doesn’t fit the status quo, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
Decide if you mind being alone. There are loads of things you can do by yourself that can make it a fantastic day. Try and remember the last time you really had a day of self-care. You could do whatever you liked, read a book, listen to music, have a bath and relax. You wouldn’t have to worry about being interrupted and you have a day to just do whatever you wanted.
If you planned it in advance, you could be sure to have your favourite dinner and bottle of wine ready. You wouldn’t need to argue over what film or TV show to watch. Some people might want to take the day to just catch up on things they haven’t had time to. It’s really not the worst thing ever to have a completely free day where you don’t have to set your plans around anyone else.
If you do decide you don’t want to be alone though, there’s plenty of options.
Find an event near you
You’re not going to be the only person around who’s alone at Christmas. In fact, there are lots of events set up by people who aren’t planning on going home. If you live in or near a big city, you’re very likely to be able to find some events already set up.
Websites such as Meetup have groups that plan things to do on Christmas. Couchsurfing has a new feature that lets you see list your interests and find others around you with the same. Check out your local community centre, as they sometimes post events.
A lot of parks are still open on Christmas day, and some even host park runs. Get your running shoes on and join others for a social jog in the park. The downside to this, of course, is that most of them start at 9am!
Organise your own event
If you can’t find something you’re interested in doing, why not create one yourself? There’s lots of different things you can do. Plus, you don’t have to open it up to the public, you can make something just for you and friends who might also not have Christmas plans.
Why not make a Christmas potluck for some friends or neighbours? If you don’t want to do something traditional, check out Chinatown or the Jewish quarter as many restaurants will be open on Christmas day. Have a non-traditional international feast!
You can also check out local museums, art galleries and other cultural places. Make sure to check if they’re open first, as some do close for Christmas. Many stay open though. Same for parks and hiking routes. You set out an expedition with a group or by yourself.
There are lots of ways you can volunteer for Christmas. You can do anything from helping at a soup kitchen to visiting a nursing home to helping out on phone helplines. Volunteering isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a way you can spend your Christmas making a difference.
If you have a particular charity you like, why not check to see if they are doing anything special for Christmas? Otherwise, pick something you believe in and feel you would be comfortable doing. Some volunteering jobs might need more training or experience than others, so make sure you do your research.
There are also lots of other ways to be kind at Christmas. It’s a great chance to reach out to friends, family or neighbours that you know are going through a rough time. More people are vulnerable at Christmas than many of us realise and even just a phone call to say hello can make a big impact.
Video games is now the most popular form of entertainment and one of the reasons for this is because it brings people together. There are tons of games on various platforms that let’s you connect to other people. The online community for gaming is booming and there’s a niche for everyone.
Play against others or in teams, invest in a headset and talk to teammates online. Or just open streaming services like Twitch where you can watching other gamers and join in on chat. Or stream yourself.
Or you can connect to friends and family, whether that’s a game of online monopoly or super smash bros. Just remember things can get pretty heated!