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My heart broke - grandchildren
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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. Whether it's because of work commitments, illness, children living abroad, or just because you want to have a bit of peace and quiet, spending Christmas without family can still be enjoyable. Here are our favourite alternative ways to celebrate it by yourself. Also, don't forget you can pop into our virtual Christmas party anytime - everyone's invited and we'll be there with bells on!
Volunteering is a brilliant way to give something back (brownie points for emulating the true spirit of Christmas). Do something completely different and spend the day meeting new people. Here are just a few of the organisations that typically need help over the festive period:
Crisis has plenty of opportunities to help out at their centres across the UK, which provide food and shelter for homeless people all over the country during the festive period. They need plenty of people to help with the thousands of Christmas lunches they'll be dishing up, and also volunteers with special expertise - nurses, chefs, hairdressers, even dog-handlers - to help their guests get the services they need.
The organisation's Companionship at Christmas campaign offers free festive dinners and even overnight stays to older people who would otherwise be alone. Volunteering on Christmas Day at one of their houses means chatting to new people, leading activities and generally spreading some festive cheer.
Salvation Army (nationwide)
The Salvation Army needs volunteers every year to help sort through donated presents, serve Christmas meals and help out at winter night shelters.
If you're concerned that it may not be a great idea to have the whole bottle of champagne to yourself, why not take it along to a community festive lunch? Community Christmas is a great database for finding events near you on the big day - you'll have plenty of people to pull crackers with, and you might make some new friends too.
You can also have a look on our meet ups page to see if anybody has organised any Christmas events near you. Gransnet users often like to go out for a Christmas meal or something similar.
If you find the words "I want to spend Christmas alone..." start echoing round your head as December approaches, it might be time to give yourself a break and do just that. As much as we appreciate family time, it can be incredibly stressful, and so feel free to opt out of the hustle and bustle this year.
But what to do when you're alone... Christmas films for hours in your pyjamas? An entire wheel of brie? It'd be rude not to, really. And if you fancy embracing the Scandinavian concept hygge, litter your house with a multitude of blankets before curling up on the sofa with a cinnamon swirl.
Booking a night in a decent hotel will make sure you're afforded with all the luxuries of a holiday, without any of the post-Christmas clear-up and with the advantage of a hotel bar and restaurant, where you'll likely be able to chat to fellow guests in the evening. So, even if you fancy holing up in your room for most of the day (with your favourite food and drinks, of course), you can still pop down for some human interaction before retreating to your comfortable room. Or the hotel's spa. Actually, we like the sound of that...
Fancy some winter sun? There are lots of places you can head to at relatively short notice and little expense, many of which are ideal for solo travellers. Take a look at Saga's website and our guide to cruising for inspiration. Or, for a shorter-term solution, Golden Tours offer a range of Christmas Day trips in the UK, which are a great opportunity to explore somewhere new. Some have special themes (think Dickensian Canterbury - what could be more festive?), and all include a traditional Christmas lunch.
Head out of the house for some one-on-one time with nature on Christmas Day - 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 eggnog when you get back indoors. Why not post on your Gransnet Local forum forum and see if any nearby gransnetters fancy joining you for the walk?
...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.
Don't forget, we also host our annual virtual Christmas party every year! Join this year's party here.