When everyone’s posting photos of their family from their hometown or statuses about how excited they are to catch up with old friends, you’re dodging social media for the fact that you either won’t be home for the holidays or don’t have a happy family to go back to. There’s nothing like this time of year to depress someone who’s otherwise content with their situation, and the closer it gets to the holidays the more guilt seeps in that you should be doing something you don’t want to do. I know, I’ve been there.
I’ve avoided the holidays with my family in the past either while traveling or spending time with partners’ families instead. But this year I’ve decided to fully cut my family out of my life after years of abuse. And while a part of me desperately wants to go home for the holidays, no matter how many times I’ve attempted the Norman Rockwell thing it’s never ended well. So whether you’re like me and are estranged from your clan or just can’t afford to go back home this year, here are 4 tips for celebrating the holidays without family:
1. Build your own family
Chances are you’ve already started to build a family through the friendships you hold dear. You likely see your friends more often than family anyway, so why not celebrate the holidays with the people who support and love you just like a family would? The holidays don’t have to be a lonely time when you surround yourself with others you care about. Just make sure to work around your friends’ busy holiday schedules, or alternatively, meet a whole new group of friends who aren’t going home for the holidays as well on meetup.com. If you live in a big city, it’s likely there are a lot of people just like you out there.
2. Start new holiday traditions
The best part about being an adult is that you can decide which traditions you want to carry on and which you don’t. So instead of dreading the holidays because you’re solo, learn to love them by starting your own traditions with those close to you. This year I started Friendsmas, which is a holiday event where I invited my close friends for a potluck and a present exchange. Instead of trying to cook a stressful dinner and getting everyone an expensive gift, my friends and I are going to all bring a dish as well as a wrapped gift that we bought or made.
4. Volunteer for the less fortunate
Instead of wallowing alone while everyone else is seemingly celebrating with their families, remember that there are a lot of people who don’t have anywhere to go during the holidays, like the homeless. Volunteering is a great way to change your perspective and spread cheer, so collect warm donations to give away, volunteer at a shelter to dish out dinner or give gifts to charities like Santa’s Anonymous. Doing little things for others will make you feel less alone and remember the joy you felt before the holidays started.
3. Actually do what you want
Bask in the glory that is avoiding family parties that you never wanted to attend in the first place. Instead of having to spend time with relatives you might not like being around and drinking to get through the day, do activities that actually make you happy. Have a night of vegan baking, make an event where your friends help you decorate the Christmas tree or collectively go thrift shopping for ugly Christmas sweaters and wear them the rest of the day. And if you just want to stay in bed and watch Netflix all weekend, that’s fine too.
How are you celebrating the holidays without family this year? Let me know in the comments below!