Being alone for Christmas is some people's idea of bliss - and for some, it's the worst possible scenario. As much as we'd all love to spend time with friends and family, sometimes it just isn't possible, and with tougher coronavirus restrictions in place (you can check out the government postcode checker for the measures in your area) many of us will be unable to see our loved ones over the festive period. Spending the day without family can still be enjoyable though, and our gransnetters have plenty of tips for how you can still get into the Christmas mood. Here are our favourite alternative ways to celebrate it by yourself.
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"The first Christmas I had on my own was initially a bit daunting, but I decided I would do things I would never normally do. That was to buy myself a box of my favourite chocs. A bottle of nice wine, something tasty for lunch and spend the afternoon snuggled on the sofa, eating the chocs, drinking the wine and watching a good film. It was a good day."
"I spent last Christmas Day completely alone and expect it will be the same this year. I started the day listening to festive music on the radio and danced like no one was looking, because they weren't! I had lunch late afternoon cooking and eating just what I like."
"I suspect a small consolation about a solo Christmas is knowing that you can do exactly as you please, get up when you want, eat what you like when you feel like it, watch whatever TV programmes you prefer, etc... It's only one day and I refuse to be miserable about it."
What's that you say? No family drama? No obligations to be somewhere you really don't want to be. Having total control over what you do when over Christmas? Now that sounds like a stress-free time to us. Plan your day around a list of fun things you'd like to do, and if you wake up and want to do something completely different, not a problem! It's your day to enjoy at your own leisure.
"If I was on my own on Christmas Day I'd buy myself a beautiful shrub for my patio, hang fairy lights outside, and treat myself to a load of candles. Ever since I've been on my own I've lit pillar/church candles. I find their light very comforting."
"Some of our family do a four gift idea - something you want, something you need, something to eat and something to read."
Whether or not you're used to spending Christmas alone, having an indulgent day can make things a little easier. We all know how happy those little treats can make us, and it doesn't have to break the bank. As this gransnetter suggests, gift yourself with a mixture of goodies - functional and frivolous - including something delicious (and boozy if you want!) to tuck into on the day.
"Come onto Gransnet. I think there'll be a lot of us here."
Being alone doesn't mean you have to be lonely. The Gransnet forums are open 24/7, including Christmas Day, and there's plenty of joy to be found with online friends, new and old. Every year we host our virtual Christmas party - with plenty of merriment, jokes and mince pies (bring your own!), so don't miss out.
"Something different - depending on where you live, why not volunteer to help a charity, such as Crisis at Christmas. This charity helps the homeless by getting them help with retraining, to find homes and various other things. They also provide a meal for the homeless on Christmas Day."
Volunteering is a brilliant way to give something back (brownie points for emulating the true spirit of Christmas). The coronavirus pandemic means that volunteering over the Christmas period will be a little different this year, but there are still plenty of organisations that need help with the work they do.
Crisis has plenty of opportunities to help out across the UK, which provide food and shelter for homeless people all over the country during the festive period. While their usual postitions may not be available in 2020, they still vitally need volunteers to help with their efforts.
The lockdowns and heighted isolation of 2020 have really emphasised the importance of these services, and the sense of connection that they can bring to people on their own. Age UK and Reengage both run programs like this for older people, although they are more long-term commitments, rather than just for Christmas. If you're cautious about leaving the house and want to do something altruistic, this could be a really rewarding way to spend some of your free time.
Do-it have a database of available volunteering positions, which you can search for based on your location and how far you're willing to travel.
If you are unable volunteer around Christmas time, why not donate if you can afford it? As one gransnetter puts it:"Why not choose your favourite charity - or more than one - and send them a donation? I feel by our time of life, most of us have a lot of what we want and ephemeral 'stuff' only brings temporary satisfaction. Knowing you have helped to save lives/sight/starving children however can bring lasting joy." Food for thought, indeed.
While for most, solo trips away for Christmas are off the table, you could head out of the house for some one-on-one time with nature - everything outdoors seems to slow down and become more peaceful. Why not offer to take the neighbours' dog with you, if they're going to be too busy to go for walkies themselves? Dogs are wonderful company. Not only do you get those endorphins going with a little light exercise, but you earn yourself a steaming cup of mulled wine when you get back indoors.
This one gransnetter shared how her father coped with his first Christmas widowed, which included taking things at his own pace, and a winter walk: "He actually asked to be alone that first Xmas. He spent the day doing a mix of things he had loved to do with my mum, like a big fried breakfast, and things she wouldn't have done, like watching old films. He wrote down some Xmas memories, as the fancy took him, and went out for a Xmas walk. He wanted to remember her in his own time, to cry when he wanted to, not be working to our timetable."
"We had a lot of fun during lockdown completing a Wasgij puzzle, it is a jigsaw puzzle, but without the pic! You just get a hint of what the final result will be (the name is Jigsaw spelled backwards)."
"Invest in the things you really enjoy: food, music, TV shows, films, book etc. and spend the rest of the day doing all your favourite things. It won't stop you being alone but it might make the day pass more pleasurably."
If you're worried that slowing down and taking things easy on Christmas day will exacerbate your loneliness, keeping yourself busy and focused on something can help to distract yourself, and may actually help you enjoy the day. Here are a few suggestions:
For more ideas about how to keep yourself occupied, check out the Gransnet Christmas forums.
...if you don't fancy going out but could do with a chat, there are plenty of people on the end of the phone at The Silver Line and, last but by no means least, there's plenty of support, fun and festivities here on Gransnet.