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As much as we'd all love to spend time with friends and family at Christmas, sometimes it just isn't possible. Whether it's because of work committments, illness, the children living abroad, or just because you want to have a bit of peace and quiet, Christmas can still be a wonderful and restful time without big family events. So we've put together some alternative ways to enjoy it by yourself.
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.
Crisis has plenty of opportunities for you 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.
Alternatively, you could get involved in a bit of festive giving by supporting your favourite charity, donating used clothes to those in need or attending a charity Christmas fair.
If you're concerned that it may not be entirely sensible to have the whole bottle of sherry 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.
As much as we love family time, there's always the chocolate coin pressed into the arm of the sofa, the mulled wine spilled on the carpet, and the fight over what Christmas TV specials to watch. If you do find yourself alone, why not take full advantage of it? 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.
Busy, bustling and bursting with festive aromas and sounds, immerse your senses in a browse round your nearest Christmas market, mulled wine in hand, and keep an eye out for something yummy to treat yourself to on Christmas Day. There are hundreds of Christmas events happening around the country - like these in East Sussex, Colchester and Leicestershire, to name but a few. Check out your Gransnet Local site to see if there's one near you.
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.co.uk and our guide to cruising for inspiration. Or, for a shorter-term solution, Golden Tours offer a range of Christmas Day trips, 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 (some of those terrible Christmas presents really do need sharing immediately), 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.
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