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How to Be Alone for the Holidays — A Survival Guide

Being alone for the holidays can mean you either turn into Kevin McCallister from Home Alone, and celebrate your newfound freedom, or you turn into the Grinch and look down on everyone else having fun around you. No matter how you find yourself removed from your usual routine, I want to share some tips if you’re on your own this holiday season. Think of it like your own personal survival guide for anything emotionally tricky.

  1. Find a way to recreate at least one family tradition.
    My family’s usual Christmas routine includes opening our stockings, then presents, a brief road trip to a family member’s house for more presents, then dinner. But I couldn’t do all of that by myself a thousand miles away. My solution? Cinnamon rolls. We always had some kind of delicious baked good for breakfast on Christmas morning; the trick is to start it in the oven while you’re opening stocking stuffers. I made sure to get a classic tube of pre-made cinnamon rolls that I could bake on Christmas morning.
  2. Get cozy!
    The winter months are the perfect time to buy yourself a cute onesie or matching pajama set. Because, guess what? It’s cold out there! No one wants to be physically uncomfortable while also being emotionally uncomfortable. Maybe this could be your holiday gift to yourself.
  3. Catch up on that show everyone’s been talking about.
    If your schedule is too busy to stay on top of everything going on in pop culture, I completely understand. Now could be your chance to catch up on things you’ve felt like you’re missing out on — or not! You could also use this time to rewatch your favorite, feel-good shows and movies. Indulge a little, and remind yourself how to relax.
  4. Don’t forget to (maybe) make plans with friends.
    Yes, being cozy is extremely important this time of year. But so is getting out of your house or apartment and seeing other humans. If you live in a big city, the odds are pretty high that there are other folks just like you who are alone for the holidays and could use some social activity. If no one immediately comes to mind for you, reach out on social media and see who’s around. Throw a Friendsgiving-but-for-December party. You might just make a new set of friends! Being alone for the holidays can make it easy to throw yourself a pity party, but it’s nice to remind yourself that you’re not completely alone. You can be alone without being isolated.
  5. Call, or video chat, friends and family.
    It’s the next best thing to being home with them! While it may make you miss your friends and family back home even more, it can feel good to not feel too separated from them. Remind them why you love and miss them.
  6. Create a plan for the year ahead.
    If you have more time on your hands than usual, set aside some of it to dream up goals and plans for the new year. If you have extra magazines laying around, you can turn those goals into a vision board to keep you motivated.
  7. Find ways to give.
    There are so many organizations who need your time, energy, talents or money during the holiday season. If you can’t be with your family this year, I’d bet there are plenty of helpful ways for you to use that extra time. You can even organize your own fundraiser or item-based donation drive for a cause in your area.
Alone for the holidays? Donate your time and help someone, or a cause, in need.

There’s no wrong way to spend the holidays. But if you’re alone during this time of year, for whatever reason, it can be really hard. It’s good to make the most of your time, but it’s also very okay to rest. Hopefully these tips give you some ways to survive the holidays on your own.

Sami Main

Sami Main is a certified life coach and published author living in Brooklyn, NY with her boyfriend, two cats and two dogs. She is passionate about wellness, balance, nutrition and personal growth. Her book, How to Deal: Tarot for Everyday Life, is available through Harper Collins and Urban Outfitters. She's been performing improv comedy for the last decade, and you can frequently find her listening to podcasts on long walks.

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