Spending the Holidays Alone

Spending the Holidays Alone


Living away from your family? Traveling too expensive? Don’t talk to your family? Whatever the reason you won’t be seeing family, you can still enjoy this holiday season! I’ve spent the past few Christmases on my own, without seeing family. And it’s been over a decade since I spent Thanksgiving with family. Being alone on a holiday doesn’t have to be a drag.

The relationships you have with friends are just as important. At its basis, Thanksgiving is about being grateful. Christmas is about giving and being around those you love. These things are not mutually exclusive to family! You can be grateful for your friendships. You can still be around people you love who aren’t family.

Especially living in a large city (like nyc) where people have moved away from their families to live here. There will be groups of friends spending Thanksgiving dinner together because they can’t afford to fly home. There will be people having Christmas to themselves. There is nothing wrong with that!


spending the holidays alone thanksgiving
Why miss out on all this pie just because you’re spending Thanksgiving without your family?
There is absolutely no reason to miss the biggest food event of the year just because you won’t be near your family. Who wants to pass up eating copious amounts of food? Not me!

If you won’t be seeing your family for Thanksgiving, having a “friendsgiving” or “fakesgiving” dinner is a great alternative. Get your friends together before/on/after Thanksgiving to have the traditional feast. Trust me, no one will want to skip an additional Thanksgiving dinner. No one.

You may know other friends who are staying in town for the holiday? Invite them over for dinner. Or invite them to go out to dinner. You can host a potluck. Or order a pre-made dinner. Thanksgiving isn’t just about family, it’s about being grateful. Being grateful for people we care about in our lives. Friends or family.

Sometimes if friends know you won’t be with family on Thanksgiving, they’ll invite you to spend it with their family. This can be really fun too. Bring a dish to share with everyone. Don’t even worry about not being with your family. Don’t get hung up on the fact that your friend has this loving family and you don’t (or can’t see them). Enjoy being around someone who cares enough about you to invite you into their home. Into their family tradition. And now for this holiday, you do have a family.

Christmas Alone in New York

Christmas Alone in NYC
Spending the holidays alone doesn’t have to be a bummer
I have spent the past four Christmases without family. The first time can be a bit of a bummer. Mainly because you’re losing the nostalgia of the day. But instead of focusing on old traditions, try making new ones.

You can still fill your apartment with the Christmas spirit! Set-up a Christmas tree. Even if it’s small. Even if it’s in rough shape. Pick out your own ornaments and spend an evening decorating it. Listen to Christmas music. If you get sad thinking about your family, stop and think about the things you do have. The friends that are part of your life. The life you have made for yourself. You know, the good stuff.

Another trick for making Christmases alone feel more homey, is by burning a simmer pot. It may sound silly. Simmer pots are perfect for any snowy wintry day. And are especially comforting on a Christmas Day spent by yourself or simply without family. What is a simmer pot? A delicious blend of fruits and spices that simmer on the stove in a pot of water. Simple and amazing. My favorite is orange peels + cloves + cinnamon sticks. You can also use lemon, apple peels, nutmetg, bay leaves.

Another cheesy trick that can help with spending Christmas in your tiny new york city apartment is playing the ‘yule log’ on your tv. Sure, it’s not anything like the real thing. But it’s fun. And the crackling fire is cozy. Your local cable provider will likely have this on a channel. Netflix offers Fireplace For Your Home; with or without Christmas music.

If hanging out in your apartment alone on Christmas is bumming you out, go outside! Go see a movie. Look at all the Christmas trees in the city. Go for a walk. Get delivery. Look at the window displays. New York City is still very lively on Christmas. I went to a movie last year by myself and was surprised that the movie theater was packed. You really will not feel alone walking around nyc on Christmas Day.

Be Grateful For What You Have

Spending Christmas Alone with cats
Think about what you have, not what you’re missing
If you’re spending Christmas alone because your family is at a distance, be sure to reach out to everyone. You’ll feel comforted talking to your parents on Christmas morning, even if it’s only on the phone. It’ll help you feel connected even though you can’t be there in person.

Spend time thinking about your friends and the people around you that you care about. If you know someone else without family on Christmas, invite them to do something. Have your own Christmas. Make new traditions. You can spend some of the day feeling a little down if you need to, but not the whole day. I wont allow it!

Even if you don’t talk to your family at all, or just your family couldn’t be with you, there are still people (friends or otherwise) who do care about you and support you. Be grateful for these relationships. Be thankful for what you have. Don’t think about what you’re missing. You have plenty of other days to do that.


4 Replies to “Spending the Holidays Alone”

  1. I spent Xmas in NYC without my family three years ago and last year was in Portland with just my bf. It was nice to be alone and start our own traditions. We just cooked and enjoyed the day. Holidays don’t have to be prescribed anything– just do what you want!

    1. Exactly! Holidays are doing what you want to do! NYC is so magical around Christmas time, definitely not a bad place to be alone.

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