When I originally wrote this blog last year, I could never have anticipated the reason why large numbers of people would end up spending Christmas alone in 2020. Like so many difficult aspects of this year of extraordinary change, being on your own during the festive season feels like a very sad necessity. However, I’m here to let you know that with the right elements, it can genuinely be a fabulous experience.
I’ve chosen to be alone of Christmas Day three times in the past 15 years and they have all been very merry times for me. So, if you’re considering having (or being required to have) a solo celebration during this festive season, here are my five tips to make sure you have a cheerfully cosy Christmas by yourself.
Why I enjoy 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 and drunkenly spending time together (well, pre-Covic), even the inevitable month-long hangover. Of course, the sense of goodwill, endless cuddles with important people and thoughtful gifts are lovely too. It is my favourite time of the year.
One thing I don’t love about December though 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 and whatever you see shows the reality of what your life is like the rest of the year. We assume it signifies where your life is now at and 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’ – to quote the wonderful Armistead Maupin). If your life isn’t structured around one romantic relationship or if 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 truly 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.
You can also consciously choose to spend Christmas on your own. I’ve done this multiple times since I moved to London from Australia in 2004. On all these occasions, I’ve considered at all the lovely offers from friends and decided that I would prefer to rock it solo style. Not because I’m depressed or a bit of a Scrooge but because I knew that I would most enjoy spending it by myself.
One time it was because I wanted to indulge in Christmas exactly the way I wanted. Another time, it was because I valued having my space more than spending it with my partner’s family. Last year, it was because I knew I had a lot to process after an enormously difficult year and I felt like Christmas gave me to perfect time to do this before NYE. Each time, I’ve valued what this quiet time of the year could bring me personally.
So if you find yourself 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 completely 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
Yes, I love a plan. So much so, my friends often call me ‘Planny Fanny’ because it’s one of my favourite things to do. I found that it really helped me last Christmas. Not only did I write down some ideas in advance for 25th December, but also for the whole week of Christmas.
One of the main things I did was plan out food. It’s such an important part of the festive experience, so I wanted to make sure I had lots of things I loved. Plus, as the shops are closed for a few days it was important that I had enough food for the week as well. So I put together a list of what I was thinking about making each day.
Other ideas I added to my plan were things I wanted to do. As I 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 made sure I had those on the schedule too. 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 a lot more options beyond watching TV. Make a plan to spend the day chilling on a beach, reading a good book and swimming in the sea. Or perhaps you’d like to go for an afternoon hike or bike ride? You can always pop some tinsel on your handlebars or backpack and take a portable speaker to pump some festive tunes. Either way, have a think about things you would like to do over Christmas and pop these on your plan. This will provide your festive season with some structure and give you things to look forward to.
Make yourself and your home fabulous
If you’re spending Christmas alone, I think it’s extra important to make your home look nice. Even if you aren’t into having a tree and tinsel everywhere, it’s still important to give your house a good clean 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 look fabulous. The best thing about spending the festive season on your own is you can wear whatever you want – and that includes nothing at all! If all you want to rock on Christmas Day is a sparkly pair of earrings and some killer heels, turn up the heating and enjoy being naked.
If you want to dress up is something fun or formal, do it. Want to plan a few outfit changes for the day? Why the hell not? If you prefer your Christmas Day is one long chill session in loungewear, then gift yourself with an early Christmas present of some lovely new pyjamas. This isn’t any old day so make sure you wear something that will make you special and celebratory. It will make an enormous amount of difference to how you feel.
One thing that struck me on Christmas Day last year is 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 just generally indulge myself is when I’m either hungover or ill. So having a day to do all of this when I actually felt good was amazing! 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 an amazing breakfast followed by a long soak in the bath. I added a bunch of my presents into this experience, enjoying the bath bomb, bath salts, chocolates and a pre-mixed cocktail that I’d been given all at once (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 presents.
After this, I heated up the oven and made myself 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 and was still enjoying it a few days later. The best thing about spending Christmas alone is that you have the Christmas feast that 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 totally 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. I find it tough when I don’t get to talk to my mum on Christmas Day, for example, 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 group chats. My family and friends have various ones, which is a great way of hearing what everyone is up to on the day. I also was added to a fun WhatsApp group this year where a small group of exhibitionistic friends were sharing funny photos of themselves naked with Christmas hats, decorations etc. This, of course, made my day very fun!
Have a back-up plan
If you’re consciously 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 breakfast mimosa, an afternoon Baileys or even as a last-minute lunch guest.
Most people are happy to have guests pop by at a certain point in the day, so check-in with your loved ones as to when suits them and let them know you’re spending Christmas on your own but may want to pop by. This means you have a back-up plan with your support network if you’re not feeling like flying solo during the festive season.
Obviously, this year is a little different as we often can’t be indoors with other people. So, see if you can join someone for their Christmas Day walk. Or pop around for a warm glass of mulled cider on their front porch. You could go door to door getting drunk at your friends this way… but that’s just an idea.
No matter what you do, I’m wishing you all a wonderful Christmas. Here’s hoping 2021 brings us some happier times and much-needed positivity.
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