The past year and a half have been quite unusual years, to say the least. While some things are starting to look up, some of us still haven't been able to see our extended families as much as we used to. And if we have, it may have been momentarily or socially distanced.
The good news is that the year is almost over. The bad news is that Christmas is almost here and many Americans are still going to have to spend Christmas alone, involuntarily. Although it's getting better, the coronavirus pandemic still continues to drag on making this holiday season a bit different from the past. Some can't travel home to see family members, elderly parents might need to stay isolated and large family gatherings are still on pause for some.
The prospect of spending a holiday alone may leave you feeling anything from sad to seriously depressed, especially if it's your first time doing so. However, spending Christmas alone isn't a sad day as there are many ways to make this Christmas as exciting as the rest.
Maybe this year you can't hang Christmas lights with your family but if you're spending Christmas alone, you don't have to feel isolated. There are many ways to make your solo Noel special and keep your spirits up and full of holiday cheer. Here are 25 ways to spend this Christmas alone.
You may have old Christmas traditions that go back as far as you can remember that you want to try and recreate this year alone or over Zoom with the family. However, it isn't the same as it has been before. This year, why not make some new traditions for yourself?
Cook a new Christmas dinner or dessert that you can recreate every year. Watch a new movie that could become your new Christmas go-to holiday movie. Sing your heart out to Christmas carols or video yourself singing and send it to family and friends for holiday cheer. There's no limit to what new traditions you can create while spending this Christmas alone.
Who said Christmas is go, go, go? Take the day and treat yourself to some relaxation. Go to Target or your favorite beauty supply store and get yourself all the beauty products you want to try out. Buy that face mask you've seen all over social media, try a jade face roller or paint your finger and toenails. The sky's the limit. Get your favorite bath bomb and soak your tired bones in a bathtub. Christmas day? More like a relaxation station.
If you've been feeling a little cooped up lately, maybe this year is a great time to get out of dodge while everyone else hunkers down at home. Find your inner Kate Winslet from "The Holiday" and spend this Christmas somewhere new. If you can't go home, why not find a fun hotel or Airbnb to spend this Christmas? If you're alone, it might as well be somewhere fun.
Take a small road trip to a different town or have a getaway in a hotel room in a new city. You'll enjoy a drive-by yourself to a socially-distanced place where often you don't even have to encounter another human if you enter a lobby with digital check-in.
And not only will you have Christmas with a different view, but you can also enjoy fresh towels and sheets that you don't have to wash at the end of the week. You don't have to go somewhere to get away. Grab a room in your town for a staycation. Or, see if a friend needs a house-sitter while they're away for the holiday.
If it's too cold to go outside or if that's just not your thing, take advantage of the empty roads on Christmas and go for a drive. Turn on the heat and your favorite music and hit the open road. Drive to a nearby area you've always wanted to visit or drive to your favorite route and enjoy the ride.
It's a great way to spend some time and clear your head. Stop by new shops or places if they're open and pop in. Don't worry about having a destination in mind, let the road take you where it wants
Don't want to get away? Staying at home doesn't mean you have to stay at home. There's so much to explore out in your town or near your neighborhood while you're flying solo and still social distancing. Crisp fresh air and a winter sky can do wonders for the mind and soul.
Take a long walk or bike ride while enjoying the tunes from a great playlist in your earbuds. Move your hike over to a community park that's likely empty or find adventure hiking trails in the woods or at a state park.
And don't dismiss the nighttime. If it's safe on Christmas Eve or Christmas night, stroll around your neighborhood and look at your neighbor's Christmas and Hanukkah lights at a much slower speed than in your car. If you're having a hard time with your solitary holiday, this may lift your spirits.
If it's too cold to go outdoors and you don't want to leave your city, look and see if any museums or local attractions are open. If they're open near you on Christmas, go and check them out. You'll have the place all to yourself. Although you're spending Christmas alone, you'll feel less alone surrounded by great works of art.
Don't feel pressured to do anything on Christmas day. There's no need to feel like you're missing out if you just want to stay in. Staying home and doing nothing is just as satisfying, if not more so, than going out.
You don't have to stay in your pajamas, either. Take a shower, brush your teeth and put on some fresh, crisp loungewear. Spend the day doing anything you'd like or nothing at all. Clothes aren't required at all. Spend your day in your birthday suit, if that's your jam. Who's going to know?
And while you're lying around in your pajamas, you may want to crash in front of the television. But flipping on broadcast, cable, pay-TV or streaming service will inundate you with Christmas marathons, Christmas movies and very special Christmas episodes. If you're holiday-ing alone, that may just be too much for you. But fear not! Just because it's Christmas doesn't mean your binging plans have to include watching the Hallmark Channel (unless that's your thing).
Watch a favorite childhood movie or an old classic you've never seen. Start a new show on Netflix of Apple TV that you've been dying to watch but haven't had time for. Fan favorites this year include “Umbrella Academy," “Ted Lasso," “For All Mankind," “McMillions" or “Dave," with the added bonus of no Christmas-themed commercials. TV not your thing? Flip on the PS5 (if you were lucky enough to get one) and lose yourself in a day of gaming.
Tired of watching TV? Puzzles are a great way to pass the time. Put on your favorite movie or audiobook and crack open that 1,000 piece puzzle you've been avoiding. Not only are they relaxing and mindless but when you finish, you'll feel extremely accomplished at the work you've just done. If you're really up for a challenge try one of the Pantone one-color puzzles.
Don't want to go anywhere but also don't want to stay inside a stuffy apartment all day? If you have a deck or porch, make yourself a calming tea, bundle up and take a few quiet moments in the fresh air and nature.
Live in a warmer climate? Grab that new book and turn your porch into a quiet reading spot while everyone else is busying themselves with the holiday. Keep your lights off inside, mute the TV and it may even feel like you've scuttled away to a cottage at the lake as you gaze out over your peaceful neighborhood. Light a candle, play some soothing music on your phone and make your porch a Christmas oasis.
If you feel comfortable being indoors, why not spend this Christmas at the theaters? Christmas is a week for new releases, and this year is no different. Grab some popcorn and a soda and sit in the reclining movie chairs and enjoy. As long as you follow all the rules and maintain your distance, you can even visit your friends at the movie theater for Christmas. None open near you? Take a short road trip to one that is. After all, it's a holiday!
Not quite ready to take in a flick indoors? Drive-in theaters in many cities have revved back to life, along with a slew of pop-up drive-in venues. Pop some popcorn and grab a big box of Whoppers and take in a drive-in movie from the comfort and safety of your car.
Table for one, please! Spend Christmas alone this year in style and take yourself to a fancy restaurant. Christmas is a special day, so why not treat yourself to your favorite restaurant or a new one you've been dying to try out? Get all dressed up for yourself and go enjoy a night alone. Stay off your phone at dinner and just be in the moment with the amazing food and the people around you. Make a night of it and do dinner and a movie, even!
Whether you're spending the day quietly at home, on the couch in front of the TV or even in a hotel room, a solo Christmas is a great opportunity to get started on that new hobby. Try your hand at sewing, brewing beer or kombucha, making sourdough bread, DIY furniture, learning guitar or yoga, couponing or anything you can think of — even setting up an Etsy store or creating an Animal Crossing island. If it's good enough for grandma, it's good enough for you.
Christmas is a great day to sit back, relax and enjoy a crafternoon. Spend the day working on mindless crafts you've been too busy to enjoy. Create that quilt you've always wanted to make, take up knitting and make yourself a warm cozy sweater. Go back to childhood and collage the front of a notebook with magazine cutouts. If you've always wanted to try bullet journaling, today is your day. Watch tutorials or print guides and journal away. There are endless crafts to work on this Christmas day.
Well, if you're spending Christmas alone in a pandemic, possibly for the first time, you can imagine you're not the only one. Peruse your Twitter or IG feed and see if you have any friends who are alone and reach out to them. Or, just come out and post, “So, who else is spending Christmas alone?"
Commiserate by text message or something more interactive like inviting them to watch a movie with you on the phone, or even having them over for a socially-distanced coffee or dinner. This also works great with friends who don't celebrate Christmas day. Not only can connecting with others who are also on their own this Christmas make you feel less alone, but it can also do the same for them — and elevate everyone's moods.
Get your family on a Zoom conference and have a virtual holiday party. Plan a time for you and the family to get together. You could even make yourself a meal and have a virtual Christmas family dinner together.
If you have friends that are alone, as well, but who are not comfortable being around people yet, have a Zoom lunch with them. If you work from home why not invite your co-workers to a little holiday Zoom happy hour? While it's not the same as being in the same room, it's better than nothing.
Christmas is the time of year to give back and help others. This year, why not spend your Christmas volunteering? Giving back to people in need will help you forget about your own worries and brighten their day. Spend your day helping feed the homeless, walking shelter dogs or visiting an elderly-care facility or group home.
If it's not safe to volunteer in person, you can drop off packages of flowers, homemade cookies or dollar store Christmas cards that you've filled out. You don't have to go through an organization to volunteer, either. There are plenty of people out there who are spending Christmas alone for a bevy of reasons. If you know someone is spending Christmas grieving or is sick themselves, they're probably having a tough holiday and might need some virtual company, as well. And the list of the less fortunate alone on Christmas is long.
Is there someone you've been thinking about but haven't talked to in a while? Christmas is a great day to pick up the phone, make a call and check in or catch up with old friends. You never know who needs a simple hello or phone call to let them know someone is thinking about them. They might be busy, but that doesn't mean you can't leave a voicemail and have them call back later. It's really the thought that counts.
Spend this Christmas day baking up a storm. Bake cakes, cookies, pies or any other delicious treat you can think of. Bake a gingerbread house from scratch and decorate it with all your favorite candies. Recreate your favorite holiday treat that will make you feel more connected to home. Always wanted to try baking bread? This is the perfect day to try since you'll be home all day. And just remember to keep telling yourself that calories don't count on Christmas.
You put the stockings and lights away in an organized box with care, waiting for Christmas to come next year. Why not take this random day at the close of December to do a full top-to-bottom cleaning of every room in your house? Dust the ceiling, refold all your T-shirts, vacuum behind the furniture, scrub the tub, organize the closets — there's so much you can do with this day off from everything! Not only will you have a sparkling-clean apartment for the New Year, but a good, thorough cleaning is therapeutic and good for the soul. Look at how productive you are on a day when no one else is!
OK, this isn't the greatest option but — if your job allows for it — it's there if you want to do it. Especially if you're really not into the Christmas spirit (hi there, Scrooge!) While everyone else is off celebrating, why not catch up on a full day's work, uninterrupted? It will also give some structure to your solo day off.
If you're a remote office-type worker or a creative, there's so much you can do to get ahead before everyone's back in the office. If you're an online hourly worker, food service employee or work in a store that's open on Christmas, you'll probably be able to take as many shifts as you want — and make a ton of extra holiday pay doing it!
No one to open presents with on Christmas morning? Well, we can't think of a more perfect time to give yourself a banging Christmas gift, can you? Head over to the mall and take advantage of those holiday deals this year. Hop on Amazon or Poshmark and buy yourself something nice that you'd never think of splurging on any other time of the year. Have it gift-wrapped and write yourself a nice card. Put it under the tree for a day before you open it. I mean, who deserves it more than you?
You don't have to spend your Christmas completely alone. If you don't already have one (or heck, even if you do) and your lease allows it, why not give yourself a furry friend for Christmas this year? Visit an animal shelter a day or two before Christmas and pick out your new best friend. Then, you can spend Christmas Day getting to know them, playing with them (and making countless Snapchat stories) and spending way too much money on Chewy picking out treats and new toys.
Just remember: puppies and kittens are always adopted first, so consider an adult dog or cat when you choose a rescue, or even an elderly or disabled pet. They all need your Christmas love, and you need theirs!
It's just one week until New Year's. And this year, we have no idea where or how we'll be celebrating turning the calendar to 2022. So, maybe now, in the glow of Christmas, is a good time to think about your resolutions for the next 12 months.
Next year will be a transitional one for many, from employment to public health to the economy. And we'll have to do a lot of good mental health work for ourselves. Take the day to journal and write down your list of goals for 2022 and how you're going to achieve them. Make it all happen next year.
And if, in the end, spending Christmas alone is just a lot and wreaking havoc with your emotional state, maybe it's a good day to stay off social media. Dive into that buzzy Hulu show, your macramé, a new recipe or even work but put your Twitter and Facebook away. Today, you don't have to inundate yourself with gaggles of family Christmas photos scrolling infinitely.
Celebrating Christmas alone is not ideal. But in 2021, a lot of things we thought of as normal, actually aren't. While you aren't home to enjoy the holiday season with your family, make spending Christmas alone a fun, new adventure. You can make the best of it by filling your day with plenty of activities and still enjoying the Christmas holiday.