The festive season is usually about family, friends and loved ones. So, is it awful to spend Christmas alone? Well, that depends. If this is something that you’re choosing to do, then absolutely not. But if this situation happens for reasons beyond your control, it can leave you feeling uneasy or sad.
Whatever your reason for celebrating (or simply making it through) Christmas alone, let me assure you that you can have a great time. A cheerful and cosy one, even. So if you’re looking for advice from someone who has spent a few festive seasons on their own, here are my tips to carry you through Christmas.
Why do I like spending Christmas alone?
I bloody love Christmas. I’m not even remotely religious, but I get seriously into the festive season. The trashy songs, the OTT decorations, everyone joyously spending time together. Even the inevitable month-long hangover (if you drink) or the general exhaustion from so much socialising. Of course, the sense of goodwill, endless cuddles with important people and thoughtful gifts are lovely too. It’s my favourite time of the year.
One thing I don’t love about December is this question: “So, what are you doing for Christmas?” I ask it, you ask, your friends ask it, your workmates ask it. Everyone asks it. How we spend the festive season carries a lot of weight. It’s like Christmas Day is a mirror held up to your life that reflects where you are. Whether you are somehow ‘succeeding’ or falling behind. Whether you are loved or not. Which, of course, is utter crap.
Christmas is a weird old time of year, especially if you’re queer or polyamorous or don’t live in the same country as your family (be that your biological or logical family). If your life isn’t structured around one romantic relationship, you live a solo life, or you don’t have family or close friends nearby, it’s sometimes hard to know what to do with yourself at Christmas. Do you join someone else’s family celebration? See if a friend of a friend is around? Or spend it on your own?
Being all alone on Christmas Day is seen as a last resort of the lonely, and if you genuinely want to spend it with friends, partners or family but can’t, it can feel like a sad time. But, I promise, it doesn’t have to be. I’ve done this multiple times since I moved to London in 2004. On all these occasions, I’ve considered all the lovely offers from friends and decided I would prefer to rock it solo. Not because I’m depressed or a bit of a Scrooge, but because I knew I would enjoy spending it alone.
Each time, I’ve valued what this quiet time of the year could bring me personally. One time it was because I wanted to indulge in Christmas exactly how I wanted. Another time, it was because I valued having my space more than spending it with my partner’s family. And then, more recently, it was because I knew I had a lot to process after an enormously difficult year, and I felt like Christmas gave me the perfect time to do this before NYE.
If you’re unable or not wanting to spend Christmas with family, partners or friends this festive season, it’s ok to spend it on your own. It’s entirely possible to have a fabulously festive time by yourself, and here are some of the things I do to make mine amazing.
Create a Christmas plan
The last Christmas I spent alone, I found it helped to make a plan. I wrote down some ideas for what to do on Christmas day in advance and for the whole week of Christmas.
One of the main things I did was plan out food. It’s such an essential part of the festive experience, so I wanted to ensure I had many things I loved. Plus, as the shops were closed for a few days, I also needed to have enough food for the week. So I put together a list of what I could make each day.
Other ideas I added to my plan were things to do on Christmas day. As I usually live in the Northern Hemisphere, this meant one thing: Christmas TV. I looked up all the festive films and TV specials I wanted to watch and ensured I had those on the schedule. I also went for a post-lunch Christmas Day walk – it’s so lovely to wish every stranger you see a Merry Christmas and get some fresh air.
Growing up in Australia, I know that when you have a warm Christmas, you have many more options than watching TV. You can plan to spend the day chilling on a beach, reading a good book and swimming in the sea. Or you can go for an afternoon hike or bike ride. Why not pop some tinsel on your handlebars or backpack and take a portable speaker to pump some festive tunes to make it extra festive?
Either way, think about things you would like to do over Christmas and pop these on your plan. This list will provide your festive season with some structure and give you something to look forward to.
Make yourself and your home fabulous
If you’re spending Christmas alone, making your home look nice is essential. Even if you aren’t into having a tree and tinsel everywhere, it’s still important to clean your house before Christmas Eve so that it feels extra lovely. You’ll feel a million times better chilling out if your pad looks lovely.
If you do love Christmas decorations, put some up! There’s no reason you can’t enjoy having a tree that’s just for you. Whatever it is that you need to make your space feel special – from scented candles to colourful tinsel to a sparkling kitchen – make sure you put in the effort for yourself.
Making yourself feel fabulous is just as important as making your home feel clean and cosy. The best thing about spending the festive season on your own is that you can wear whatever you want – and that includes nothing! If all you want to wear on Christmas Day is a sparkly pair of earrings and some killer heels, turn up the heating (if you can afford to) and enjoy being naked. Want to dress up in something fun or formal? Please do it. Want to plan a few outfit changes for the day? Go for it.
Christmas isn’t any old day, so wear something that will make you feel special and celebratory. If you prefer your Christmas Day to be one long chill session in loungewear, gift yourself an early Christmas present of lovely comfy new clothes, maybe even some pyjamas if you want to be extra cute. It will make an enormous amount of difference to how you feel.
On my last Christmas alone, it struck me that the only time I ever take a day off to chill, watch trashy TV, eat delicious food, have a long soak in the bath and generally indulge myself is when I’m either hungover or ill. So having a day to do all of this when I felt good was incredible! I couldn’t believe how lovely it felt to have a guilt-free day of self-care and personal pleasure.
I started my day by whipping up a fantastic breakfast followed by a long soak in the bath. Using some of the presents from loved ones in this experience, I enjoyed the bath bomb, bath salts, chocolates and a pre-mixed cocktail I’d been given (all while listening to vintage Christmas songs). It was divinely indulgent, and I felt like I was immersing myself in the love of all the people who had given me these gifts.
After this, I heated the oven and made a lovely Christmas roast. If, like me, you find it sad cooking for one, then make more food and box up the leftovers to enjoy over the rest of the festive break. I made a roast for four people and enjoyed it a few days later. The best thing about spending Christmas alone is having the exact Christmas feast you want. Hate mince pies? Don’t have them. Love nut roast? Go for it. It’s all about what you want.
Keep in touch
In this digital era, no one is truly alone at Christmas. You would have to turn your phone off and hide your laptop to avoid anyone getting in touch with you during the festive season. Of course, if you want to drop out from all communication, that’s fine, but let your friends, family and partners know this in advance (as they may be counting on hearing from you).
Something I like to do at Christmas is to pre-arrange when I will speak to the people I love, especially if they live in a different timezone. December 25th can be super busy for people with children or lots of plans, so it’s good to lock in when you will talk to them. For example, I find it upsetting when I don’t get to speak to my mum on Christmas Day, so I always make sure I plan a time to talk to her so that I don’t miss her (as she lives in Australia).
Another great way of staying in touch is through group chats. My family and friends have various ones, which is an excellent way of hearing what everyone is up to on the day. I’m also in a fun WhatsApp group where a group of close (and very exhibitionistic) friends were sharing funny photos of themselves naked with Christmas hats, decorations, wrapping paper etc. This group, of course, made my solo festive season hilariously silly but also very connected.
Have a backup plan
If you’re choosing to spend Christmas on your own, be mindful that despite all your lovely plans to indulge yourself, you may wake up on the day wanting to be around your friends and family – and that is ok. So make sure you put the feelers out in advance and see who’d be up for having you over for a festive morning coffee, some afternoon bubbly (of the boozy or sober variety) or even as a last-minute lunch guest.
Most people are happy to have a guest pop by at a certain point in the day. So check in with your nearby loved ones and friends, and let them know you’re spending Christmas on your own but may want to pop by. This idea means you have a backup plan with your support network if you’re suddenly not feeling like flying solo during the festive season.
No matter what you do, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas. Here’s hoping the new year brings us some happier times and much-needed positivity.
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