Your Guide to Spending The Holidays Away From Home (or Alone).

Are you spending This coming Holiday From?

The holiday season often comes with the expectation of spending quality time with family and friends. However, there are times when circumstances keep us away from our loved ones or require us to spend holidays alone. While this situation might feel daunting, there are countless ways to make the most of the holiday season on your own terms.

Remind Yourself It’s Okay If All You Do For The Holidays Is Get Through Them

The concept of being in “survival mode” during the holidays is a notion that often goes unspoken, but it’s extremely important to recognize. The holiday season is often painted as a time of universal joy and togetherness, portrayed in the media as a period where everyone is happy, gathered around a table filled with food, surrounded by loved ones. However, this isn’t the case for everyone.

Being away from home or alone amplifies feelings of loneliness, and the constant bombardment of festive imagery can lead to stress. This is where “survival mode” comes in. It means permitting yourself to let go of the expectations society has imposed regarding how the holidays “should” be spent. It’s acknowledging that it’s fine if you don’t want to—or can’t—engage in festivities and that you don’t have to force yourself into a mold of holiday happiness.

Survival mode is about setting your boundaries and acknowledging your feelings. Instead of piling on guilt for not feeling joyful, it’s about saying, “I’m not okay, and that’s okay.” This acceptance can be liberating. It allows you to manage your emotional state better and makes room for self-care, which can mean anything from diving into work, indulging in hobbies, or simply doing nothing.

SEE ALSO: How to Spend Christmas as an International Student in the USA

Plans with Friends

Being away from family during the holidays can feel isolating, but it’s important to remember that family isn’t the only source of companionship or joy. Friends can offer a different yet equally meaningful form of connection. If you find yourself away from family but still have a circle of friends nearby, leveraging this social support can help fill the void and even create new holiday memories.

Hosting a cozy dinner, for example, can create a sense of belonging. Food often serves as a communal experience, and there’s something innately satisfying about sharing a meal with people you care about. It doesn’t have to be a lavish feast; even a simple potluck can offer the comforting atmosphere that we often seek during the holidays.

Alternatively, a game night can be a great way to take your mind off the season’s stresses. Whether it’s board games, card games, or even video games, the competitive yet friendly atmosphere can boost everyone’s spirits. Plus, games are a fantastic icebreaker if your circle of friends doesn’t know each other well.

SEE ALSO: How to Spend Christmas as an International Student in the UK 2023

Don’t Force Yourself to Keep Up Old Traditions

Traditions offer a sense of continuity and comfort, acting as the familiar landmarks that guide us through the holiday season. They connect us to our past and often involve family or community participation. However, when you find yourself spending the holidays alone or away from home, clinging to old traditions can sometimes exacerbate feelings of loneliness or isolation. You might find yourself setting an elaborate table for one, only to feel the emptiness of the chairs around you, or decorating a full-sized Christmas tree with no one to share it with.

Instead of attempting to replicate the past, consider creating new rituals that align with your current situation. These can be simple yet meaningful practices that bring you comfort, joy, or even a sense of accomplishment. For instance, if you used to bake holiday cookies with your family, you might opt for a simplified version of the recipe to enjoy by yourself. If you’re away from home, perhaps exploring local holiday customs or volunteering can create new, fulfilling experiences.

The key is to adapt rather than to replicate. By doing so, you create a set of traditions that are genuinely reflective of where you are in life at this moment. These new rituals can still provide the comforting sense of routine that traditions offer but without the emotional burden of trying to recreate a past that doesn’t fit your present.

Creating new traditions is also an empowering act. It signifies that you have the agency to define what the holidays mean to you, independent of your past or social expectations. This makes the season something to look forward to rather than a period marked by what’s missing.

SEE ALSO: How to Spend Christmas as an International Student in Ireland 2023

Get Outside and Enjoy the Quiet

The holidays tend to bring a unique calm to public spaces that is unlike any other time of the year. Many people are at home with family, leading to less foot traffic in parks, nature reserves, and even city streets. This quietude presents a golden opportunity to experience nature in a more intimate and serene setting.

Opting for a walk in the park, for example, can be more than just physical exercise. The relative solitude allows you to connect with nature on a deeper level, to hear the subtle rustling of leaves or the distant chirping of birds, unmasked by the usual chatter and noise. The simple act of walking, breathing in fresh air, and observing nature’s intricate details can act as a form of mindfulness, grounding you in the moment and alleviating stress.

For those more inclined towards a bit of adventure, a quick hike offers similar benefits but amps up the sense of accomplishment. Reaching a viewpoint or summit can give you a fresh perspective, literally and metaphorically. The physical effort involved in hiking, coupled with the quietness and the achievement of reaching your destination, can create a rewarding experience that rejuvenates both body and mind.

Decorate, Even If Just A Bit

Decoration is often associated with elaborate setups and grand celebrations, but it doesn’t have to be. The act of adding a touch of festivity to your environment can profoundly impact your mood, especially when you’re spending the holidays away from home or alone. You might not have a house full of guests to impress, but the primary beneficiary of a bit of holiday decor is you.

For example, something as uncomplicated as a string of fairy lights can transform the ambiance of a room. The soft, twinkling lights can introduce a sense of magic and warmth, making your space feel cozy and inviting. Likewise, a scented candle in a holiday fragrance like cinnamon or pine can evoke the seasonal spirit through scent, which is closely tied to emotion and memory. These small changes require minimal effort but create a psychological shift, signaling to your brain that this time is special and to be savored.

Another angle to consider is the act of decorating itself. It’s an opportunity to engage in a hands-on activity, to momentarily step away from screens or any stressors. There’s a meditative quality to arranging objects, to focus on aesthetics. This can be therapeutic, providing a mental break from the complexities that the holiday season often brings.

SEE ALSO: 100+ Christmas Messages to My Teacher 2023 – Unique and Heartfelt Christmas Messages

Binge-Watch Your Favorite Holiday Movies

Movies have a unique power to transport us to different worlds, moods, or states of mind, and holiday movies are no exception. When you’re spending the holiday season alone or away from home, binge-watching your favorite holiday films becomes more than just a way to pass the time; it becomes an avenue for comfort and self-care.

Must-watch holiday movies often come loaded with nostalgia, providing a bridge to cherished memories of past holidays. They evoke familiar feelings and themes, be it the magic of Christmas, the importance of family and friendship, or the joy of giving. Therefore, indulging in a movie marathon can help set the holiday mood, giving you a dose of the season’s spirit even when you’re alone.

Additionally, the act of watching your favorite movies offers an opportunity to unwind. Most holiday films aren’t complicated dramas that require deep thought or analysis. They’re designed to be feel-good experiences, and that simplicity provides mental respite. It’s a chance to switch off your brain from any stressors or worries, letting you soak in the comforting narratives and happy endings typical of holiday movies.

So, if you find yourself without plans or family gatherings to attend, curl up with some popcorn and lose yourself in your favorite holiday flicks.

Spoil Yourself

When you’re alone during the holidays, the lack of external commitments presents a unique opportunity: the freedom to indulge in what makes you genuinely happy without any scheduling conflicts or outside opinions. Essentially, you’re on your own time, and that comes with the liberty to spoil yourself as you see fit.

Ordering your favorite takeout, for instance, isn’t just about satisfying your culinary cravings. It’s also about giving yourself a break from cooking and dishwashing, effectively removing a chore from your day. This small act can bring a sense of luxury, as it transforms mealtime into an occasion rather than just another task to check off your list.

A home spa day can offer similar benefits but on a sensory level. From soaking in a fragrant bath to applying a nourishing face mask, the tactile and olfactory pleasures engage your senses, leading to relaxation. It’s a holistic way to unwind, attending to both body and mind. You’re not just cleansing your skin but also creating a space to breathe, reflect, and let go of stress.

In short, treating yourself when you’re alone during the holidays isn’t just about the activities you choose but about the intention behind them.


Spending the holidays alone or away from home doesn’t have to be a somber affair. With a little planning and a shift in perspective, you can make the most of the season in a way that’s meaningful to you. After all, the holiday season is not just about where you are or who you’re with but how you choose to celebrate it.


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