In 2012, I moved to the UK as a student. I had no family and the friends I had, I made when I got here. Since I was a student, money was tight and I opted to live with a few select housemates who became as close as family.
Obviously, they all have families of their own, though, and as Christmas drew near, it happened that all 3 of them had to go away to spend the holidays with their families.
Since it wasn’t an option for me, I had to stay at home. By myself. On Christmas.
I think my 3 friends felt really bad about that. In fact, I know they did because they told me so. Luckily, I had been spending Christmas away from my family since 2007 so I’m a bit of an old hand and I do appreciate the solitude. Not always, of course, but sometimes, it’s good to just kick back and give myself undivided attention.
To combat the blues and feeling of loneliness when you’re spending such a big holiday on your own, I recommend that you go on a date with yourself on Christmas and shift your attitude from “Ugh, I have to spend Christmas by myself” to “Yay, I get to spend Christmas with number one!”.
Create a “Home Alone” plan this Christmas
When it became clear that I would be home alone that Christmas, I made a plan.
Unlike the Philippines, where I could hit the mall, everything shut down in the little patch of the UK that I was in. I couldn’t even leave to go to another city because the trains and buses weren’t running either.
So, I either had to leave a few days before or a few days after.
That meant, I had to know where I was going, when, how, what I was going to do when I got to where I was going. And that’s why this post is getting published in September instead of December: if your plan involves travel, then the sooner you make a booking, the better.
If you don’t drive and don’t know anyone who could rescue you if the worst were to happen, trust me, you do not want to get stranded on Christmas so a good plan is essential.
I learned this the hard way when I went to visit a friend around Christmas. I now can’t remember if this was before or after but it was definitely not exactly on Christmas as she lived in London and I was in Brighton (transport was an issue).
I arrived in London – my first time – only to find that the buses weren’t running.
Thankfully, she had an aunt who was able to come and get me but my lack of planning made me really anxious then so I definitely recommend creating a plan.
Go on a date with yourself on Christmas
It’s so tempting to just pop something in the microwave if you’re going to be by yourself but I’m a firm believer in treating yourself the way you expect other people to treat you.
If you were celebrating with a partner on Christmas, you wouldn’t just microwave a ready-made Christmas dinner from ALDI’s, would you? Maybe a side dish here or there but a full meal? No, you’d make more of an effort.
Remember that your first relationship is with yourself and you show others your worth in the way you treat yourself.
Side Note: If you need more information on this, I highly recommend Dr. Shannon Gulbranson’s book on loving yourself, Date Yourself Well.
So, act as if you were going to celebrate Christmas with someone special because guess what, you are!
If you’re like many people, this likely would be a new thing and you’ve probably never taken yourself on a date before.
Go all out.
You don’t need to go crazy on the spending but you could wear that brand new dress you’ve been saving for that special someone and wear it.
Plan a nice Christmas menu and set the table, maybe even complete with candlelight, your fine china, cloth table napkin and a wineglass.
Put some music on that speaks to your heart.
If you’re spending home alone on Christmas because your family is away, schedule a video call with them and that way, you can still celebrate together.
These are just suggestions, by the way. You don’t have to follow them to the letter.
In fact, if you want to know what I did that Christmas day, this was my list:
1. Soak in the bath
Since I was living with housemates (all male) and sharing a pretty epic bathroom with two of them, I didn’t want to hog it all by lounging about in the bath. But since I was by myself, I ran the bath, added some make-me-happy bath salts, put on some mood music, closed my eyes to enjoy it all and stayed until the water went tepid. To date, that was still my best bath ever!
2. Dress in comfy loungewear and kick back in the sitting room whilst watching The Nanny
I have extremely high standards for myself and a pretty insane work ethic so when I’m studying or working, I don’t generally relax.
Instead, it sometimes feels like I’ve painted a red target and there’s a bull inside me that’s going for it.
Not the prettiest of descriptions but, whatever. It’s accurate.
So, I was really looking forward to dressing in the comfy loungewear I bought specifically for that occasion, sat with my Christmas dinner and 5th glass of wine (ahem), turned The Nanny on and just laughed my way to Boxing Day.
I watched The Nanny because it was guaranteed to make me laugh. My next choice would’ve been The Big Bang Theory. It’s really a personal choice.
You could even do what other people do and just watch Christmas-themed movies.
You do you. 🙂
Part of me wishes I could do it again (which isn’t likely to happen since I’m now married and has one child who’s somehow taken after Super Sonic).
3. Make a traditional Christmas dinner (for one person, of course)
I’m big on planning, as you can probably now tell, and my idea was to make a traditional (British) Christmas dinner with salmon as the main meal (because I was not eating that much turkey all by myself!) with a side of roasted vegetables and Brussels sprouts.
The Brussels sprouts were a fail, by the way, because I’ve never cooked them before and instead of looking at recipes, I decided to be lazy and just fry them (without soaking or doing anything with them first). And they were awful!
Then I just got some fancy cheesecake from a local cafe (the day before Christmas, since it was closed on Christmas day) and had that with some mulled wine.
So, other than the Brussels sprouts, I was pretty proud of my cooking adventure.
4. Make mulled wine
I’ve never had mulled wine before (or much alcohol either, come to think of it) but everyone told me that Christmas isn’t Christmas (in England) if I don’t have mulled wine.
So, me being me, I didn’t want to just get a bottle.
No, I wanted to make it myself.
I followed that BBC recipe and used up a good bottle of red wine. I normally don’t like alcohol because I was used to Novellino wines, only available in the Philippines and super sweet. You could barely taste the alcohol.
So, when I made mulled wine and realised that I could sweeten it to my liking and that it warmed me up (it was my first winter), I did go a bit crazy with it.
And by that, I meant I managed to finish the entire bottle by myself.
On Christmas Day.
Hmmm. Maybe that was why I remember being very happy. 😀
Obviously, don’t do that if you have problems with alcohol.
There are some pretty great and valid reasons why you’d want to know what to do when you’re home alone on Christmas. So, if you find yourself in this situation, I highly recommend making the shift from it being something you don’t want to it being a privilege.
Instead of: “Ugh, I have to spend Christmas alone.”
Say: “Yay, I get to spend Christmas with number one!”
If you’re thinking of going somewhere for the holidays, I really recommend creating a plan for the day, especially if you live somewhere like England, where everything shuts down for the day. If you’re thinking of travelling around the holidays, you need to make a booking soon (like yesterday) because prices soar the closer you get to Christmas.
Finally, you could also – finally – go on an overdue date with yourself. You don’t even have to go outside. For some date yourself on Christmas inspo, you can look at my list above.