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Alone at Christmas

Updated on December 29, 2019
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Christmas is a month-long state of mind for me. This festive time of loved ones, parties, gifts, and religious celebrations is so special.

Alternatives to having a lonely Christmas.
Alternatives to having a lonely Christmas. | Source

There are many reasons for someone to find themselves alone at Christmas. Some of these are beyond our control or sometimes it is our own choice. Since the whole season revolves around merriment and social gatherings, being alone can feel very lonely.

That doesn't have to be. Let's look at ways to make your holiday meaningful and fulfilling despite your solo status. Plan ahead to have a festive day anyway.

The Complex Reasons for Being Alone

Often the status of being solitary comes with additional complications that make it harder to have a Merry Christmas. Perhaps you've gone through a divorce and are adjusting to being on your own. That can be even more difficult due to a change in your financial situation, alienation from your children, and worries about your future.

Sometimes someone is alone during the holidays because they've moved across the country for a job and it's too expensive to travel to be with family. Perhaps they have a job that requires them to work on Christmas Day and prevents them from being with their loved ones.

In some cases, people are alienated from their families due to dysfunctional or abusive relatives or because the family has disowned them. Perhaps differences over politics make family gatherings too contentious and you opt to skip those confrontations.

Some may have outlived their families. This happens among the elderly, but also younger people may have parents who have died and have no siblings.

These are just a few of the reasons that a person finds themself on their own for the holidays.

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Alone Due to a Loss

If your spouse or significant other passed away, you probably feel the loss more on special occasions like Christmas. The loss of a parent or a sibling will weigh on your also at this time, particularly if you lived together.

Some approach this by making the holiday into a tribute to that person. Do some things that they particularly liked. Maybe prepare the special foods that they enjoyed or decorate your Christmas tree with ornaments and mementos that celebrate their life and how special they were.

Take time to write a letter to the missing person telling them how you're feeling at this time and how much you loved them. Even though you can't send it to them, getting it down on paper has a soothing benefit for you.

Every year, I put out the Beanie Baby bear with angel wings as a tribute to my sister. She collected these bears and also angels so this one is really special to me.
Every year, I put out the Beanie Baby bear with angel wings as a tribute to my sister. She collected these bears and also angels so this one is really special to me. | Source

Options for Spending Christmas with Others

It doesn't have to be your original family, think of creating your own "family" for special occasions when you want to be together and celebrate.

  • Look around for people who are also alone among your acquaintances (work, neighbors, casual friends). Invite them to your home for a potluck holiday dinner. Don't worry about your place not being fancy enough. Paper plates and napkins are fine, then focus on getting to know the people, and enjoying the food and friendliness.
  • If you don't have room for a group at your place, float the idea of gathering together at a restaurant or other location.
  • Volunteer to serve at a community Christmas dinner perhaps at a church or for the homeless. You'll feel good about helping and won't be sitting around at home feeling left out.

If your workplace is open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, offer to take a shift or switch with a co-worker so they can be home with their family. You'll feel good about helping someone out and will keep busy doing your job which will distract you from a lonely holiday.

If you don't work somewhere that is open, think about dropping by the local hospital, nursing home, firehouse or police station to drop off some cookies or fudge to make their holiday happier. Check first to see if it is allowed.

Serving a Meal to Others Can Become a Holiday Tradition

Ask at local churches if they need help serving community meals or find a place that feeds the homeless and offer to help.
Ask at local churches if they need help serving community meals or find a place that feeds the homeless and offer to help. | Source

Embrace Your Solitude

Plan a special day just for yourself with activities that make you feel good.

My aunt used to go to the beach on her own for the day. Even if it was cold, that was her special place to be soothed by nature; with the sand under her feet, the waves swooshing in and out, and the birds swooping overhead. On super-cold days, she would sit in her car with a thermos of hot chocolate and Christmas music playing while she gazed at her favorite scene.

I remember when I was freshly out of college and in my first job. Although I couldn't go home that year for the holiday, I opted to spend the day by myself and declined an invitation to join a co-worker's family celebration. It seemed to me that I'd feel even more homesick in a group of happy people that I barely knew.

So, I fixed myself a special meal, opened the gifts that had been sent to me, and listened to my favorite music. In the afternoon, I called the family and had a good chat. It was quite a change from the chaotic family gatherings with my five brothers and sisters and parents, but it was an enjoyable enough day for me.


Plan a special meal that will be a treat to look forward to as the day progresses. It doesn't have to be traditional holiday food. Set your table nicely, prepare the food, put on some music, and savor the meal.

Special lighting or a candle combined with a nice place setting make dining alone special.
Special lighting or a candle combined with a nice place setting make dining alone special. | Source

Do Something Totally Different This Holiday

  • Take a cruise to someplace exotic or a road trip instead of staying home alone.
  • Stop by a nursing home and ask the attendant who among the patients needs visiting. Spend a little time chatting with that person. Ask about their interests and childhood memories of the good old days.
  • If you know of homebound neighbors, fix a plate of cookies covered in plastic wrap and stop by their home to deliver them. Stay to chat and get to know them.

Reach Out to Others

Others feel alone too and welcome someone visiting them.
Others feel alone too and welcome someone visiting them. | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Virginia Allain

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