Celebrating Christmas alone

If you will be alone on Christmas and want to celebrate, there are several options:

Singing/music:

  • A lot of churches and other organizations have musical events around Christmas
  • For instance, in many areas, a group puts on a Handel’s Messiah sing along, where it’s lead by experienced musicians but anyone can participate in the singing
  • (You can find other musical events by googling “Christmas concert <your area>”)
  • You can also listen to recorded Christmas music (in fact, this time of year it would be difficult to avoid doing so. But it might be more enjoyable when you’re doing it on purpose and selecting songs you like).

Getting a Christmas tree:

  • Some people who celebrate Christmas are much happier if they have a Christmas tree than if they don’t
  • This time of year, there are a lot of places that sell both real and fake ones
  • If you aren’t up to or don’t want a full-sized tree, you can get a mini-tree or a potted plant pine tree
  • In some cities, places that sell Christmas trees also sell “Charlie Brown trees” that are a pine branch held up by a small stand. Those have the advantage of smelling the same way that full-sized fresh-cut trees smell (you can also get this effect by using wreathes or garlands)

Putting up decorations:

  • If you have a space you control, you can put up decorations
  • Decorations can be complicated and expensive, but they don’t have to be
  • You can get a string of lights for a few dollars in most retail stores this time of year
  • Places that sell Christmas trees also usually sell wreathes for far less money. If you have a door you control, you can put a wreath on the door. Or you can put it on your table.
  • You can also make paper chains, or other paper decorations

Looking at other people’s decorations

  • A lot of people put up really cool Christmas decorations
  • There are also often cool public light displays put up by cities
  • If you search “Christmas lights <your area>”, you’ll likely find information about where particularly awesome decorations are
  • This is something you can do leading up to Christmas as well as on Christmas itself, and you will not be the only one doing it

Crafting:

  • A lot of people like to make Christmas crafts
  • Craft stores, and even some non-craft stores, have a lot of easy Christmas-themed craft kits (and also supplies and ideas for harder projects if you are so inclined)
  • Some people like to craft ornaments; some people like to craft presents

Watching Christmas specials

  • Most shows have Christmas specials, and there are zillions of Christmas movies
  • You might enjoy watching these, both for their own sake and as a way of connecting with other people who are watching those movies this time of year
  • One pitfall is that a lot of these are about the importance of family
  • If you don’t have family you can be with or want to be with, it might be really unpleasant to watch sweet Christmas specials
  • There are also a lot of snarky parodies of Christmas tropes. If Christmas episodes make you sad, you might prefer to watch the Christmas episodes of shows like Futurama or The Simpsons.
  • Oscar the Grouch sings a song called “I Hate Christmas” that might also be enjoyable. (Video has captions).

Going to a movie:

  • A lot of movie theaters are open on Christmas
  • Some of the movies that play on Christmas are Christmas-themed, but a lot aren’t
  • If you want to get out of the house and do something and be around other people on Christmas, a movie might be a good option.

Fandom:

  • There are a lot of Christmas stories written in almost every fandom
  • You might like to read Christmas stories
  • (Here’s the tag on An Archive of Our Own for Christmas stories. If you go to the sidebar on the right, you can search within results for the fandom you’re interested in)
  • You also might enjoy writing a story
  • Or even just a short piece of headcanon about what you think that characters in a story you like do on Christmas. 
  • (Eg: Posting in the tag for your fandom “Minor Character and Other Minor Character liked to play pranks on Christmas as much as the rest of the year. One year they decided to paint the tree blue. That was the year they discovered that nothing gets blue cat pawprints out of the carpet.” Except better, and actually about the characters you care about.)

Food

  • There is a lot of iconic Christmas food (Wikipedia has a list of traditional Christmas dishes in various countries).
  • If you are in the US, it might feel more like Christmas if you eat something like candy canes or gingerbread men or fruitcakes or Christmas cookies
  • Grocery stores sell Christmas food this time of year, and so do a lot of take-out places.

Traditional drinks:

  • Some people have the tradition of making hot chocolate this time of year
  • There are lots of powder-based mixes at grocery stores
  • You can also make more involved hot chocolate by melting chocolate into milk on the stove. There are various recipes for this. (Here’s one with booze).
  • Some people like to drink hot apple cider. Grocery stores sell mixes for this.
  • Some people like mulled wine
  • Eggnog is another traditional drink. It’s sold in cartons near the milk in the grocery store
  • (All that said: It pays to be careful about how much alcoholic stuff you prepare and err on the side of making small batches. Having a large quantity of something alcoholic and perishable when you’re lonely on a holiday could get really bad really quickly.) 

 

Making Christmas cookies

  • Making cookies is a tradition that a lot of people enjoy, and it doesn’t require a group
  • This can be complicated and involved if you like complicated baking (there are any number of complex recipes online)
  • It can also be simple. There are simple recipes.
  • Stores also sell pre-made dough that you can cut out and bake
  • If you don’t want to make cookies (or don’t have an oven), you might enjoy decorating Christmas cookies
  • You can get pre-made plain sugar cookies in the grocery store.
  • And there are a variety of kinds of frosting in the baking aisle.
  • There are tubs of frosting, and there are also tubes of frosting you can use to write words/draw things

Sharing baked goods with your neighbors:

  • In some areas, on and around Christmas it’s considered socially acceptable to make baked goods and share them with your neighbors
  • This is generally more acceptable in rural and suburban areas than in cities
  • I’m not sure how to tell whether you’re in an area where that’s acceptable or not
  • But if it is, it can be a good way to connect a little

Gingerbread houses:

  • Most grocery stores and craft stores have gingerbread house kits that are fairly simple.
  • You can also make a gingerbread house out of milk cartons and graham crackers
  • Bakeries sometimes also sell pre-made gingerbread houses (these are usually very expensive)
  • Some cities have gingerbread house competitions or displays. You might like to compete or view the competition

Donating to a food drive:

  • Food pantries always need food
  • If you have the resources to donate food or money to a food bank around this time of year, it’s a good way to celebrate the holidays
  • It’s especially nice if you can donate festive food
  • And that’s especially true if you can donate holiday food that people who have special diets can eat (eg: sugar-free candy; gluten-free pie). Poverty doesn’t cure special dietary needs, and it sucks to miss out on seasonal treats because you can’t eat any of the donated ones and can’t afford to buy your own

Donating to a toy drive:

  • There are a lot of toy drives around this time of year
  • If you have resources to do so, it’s nice to donate toys so that kids can get presents
  • It’s especially nice to donate interesting toys so that kids can get good presents
  • Being poor doesn’t mean that kids only want generic dolls; poor kids are also into fandoms and geeky things and everything that anyone else is interested in
  • (No one wants to be given a boring donated toy and be expected to be grateful for it).
  • If you can, donate interesting stuff that you would have been happy to receive as a kid

Finding a place to start volunteering:

  • A lot of lonely people want to volunteer on Christmas
  • There are generally far more people who want to volunteer than organizations can actually accommodate
  • If Christmas is making you want to volunteer, it might mean that you want to volunteer when it’s not Christmas too
  • It might make sense to spend some time on Christmas researching organizations, figuring out where you might like to volunteer, and sending some preliminary emails

Making cards:

  • You can make Christmas cards around Christmas.
  • You can also make New Year’s cards on Christmas, and send them out the day after, if you are so inclined
  • (You can also buy cards. Some people prefer to buy them; some people prefer to make them.)

Writing a Christmas letter:

  • Some people like to write annual Christmas letters updating people in (or on the periphery of) their life about what they’ve been up to in the past year
  • This can be individual letters, or also one letter sent to a lot of people
  • These days, a lot of people do this by email.
  • If there are people you haven’t heard from in a while but still want to be somewhat in contact with, a Christmas email/letter can be a way to do this.

Snow:

  • If you’re in an area with snow, you might enjoy making a snowman or sledding
  • Those things are both fun for a lot of people, and traditionally associated with Christmas
  • You can also make a fake snowman indoors with fake snow. There are various ways to do this - one set of instructions here.

Buying presents for yourself:

  • If you will be alone on Christmas and want to get presents, you might be happier if you buy some for yourself
  • It’s too late for shipping most places, but you can order stuff that you know will show up after Christmas
  • Some stores have gift wrapping services, which you might use if you want to open a wrapped gift that was wrapped by someone other than you
  • If you want a surprise, you can buy a grab bag. (You might even be able to do this in a retail store before Christmas).
  • You can also order something that has a somewhat random element. Eg: you can order a Mystery Squishable from squishable.com and get a random stuffed animal that will probably be awesome. 

Hosting gatherings after Christmas:

  • If you have friends who will be in town for Christmas, they likely won’t be free on Christmas itself
  • But they might be still in town, and without structured obligations, for a few days after Christmas
  • If you know that you are going to get together with friends after Christmas, being alone on Christmas might not suck as much
  • (One way to do this is to plan a New Years’ gathering, but there are also other ways).

Hanging out with people who don’t celebrate Christmas:

  • Christmas in Christian-dominated cultures is a often very boring day for those who don’t celebrate it
  • If you have local friends who don’t celebrate Christmas, it might be worth seeing whether they want to hang out on Christmas

tl;dr If you want to celebrate Christmas, there are options for doing so even if you will be alone on Christmas. Scroll up for more concrete suggestions.

Anyone else want to weigh in? What do you like to do on Christmas?