Spending Holidays Alone – Making the Most of the Season

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Inside: Spending holidays alone? Tips to make the most out of the season when you are facing a holiday alone. Don’t suffer through the upcoming holiday if you’re without your kids, make the most of it. 

I always spend part of my Christmas Day alone. The kids leave for a few hours right smack in the middle of the day to go to their dad’s every year.

In the first few years I tried everything I could to not spend any of my favorite holiday alone. I’d go to my parents. I even tried sharing the holiday with my ex. But as the years went on, I’ve found it’s not bad.

Now I ask the kids where they want to go.

Tips for Spending Holidays Alone

For some of us, being alone on the holidays is a reality. If you’re a single parent, then it can happen more often than you would like.

Nothing will suddenly make the holidays as warm and cozy as having your kids or family with you. Instead, practice some of these tips to ease the dread of the isolation.

1. Tune It Out

Tune out advertising as much as possible leading up to the holidays. For me, this means from Halloween until the end of the year.

Advertising for Thanksgiving starts right after Halloween. And Thanksgiving can be a touchy holiday for single parents. Heck, you may even want to stay under cover until Valentine’s Day is over.

One reason I don’t have cable is due to the commercials. Avoiding commercials comes in handy around this time of the year.  I don’t have to watch all the sickening sweet family holiday commercials. Advertising works off our emotions. Refuse to give them any of yours. Turn it off.

This includes tuning out social media. Scrolling through everyone’s #blessed may not the most helpful thing you can do right now. Log off.

2. Spend Time Planning

Get caught up in an upcoming event to look forward to. Spend your time planning.

If due to custody arrangements you find yourself without your kids on the actual holiday, make plans to celebrate after, not before.  This way on the real holiday you can be busy planning.

Busying myself on the weekends I don’t I have my kids is one of the reasons I celebrate their birthdays big.  This is a positive activity for me to focus on when I am alone.

Each time you feel the dread of spending the upcoming day alone, shift your focus to something you can plan for instead.

I like to create coupons for my kids and prepare Activities of the Month for their gifts. The preparation of these gifts is not only exciting for them but takes a lot of planning time for me.

3. Indulge Yourself

When is the last time you took some time only for you? If you’re a single parent, then it’s probably been a long time. The options are unlimited but here are a few to get you thinking:

  • Watch your favorite guilty pleasure.  Netflix offers plenty.
  • Take a long bubble bath.
  • Go on a nature walk with your dog.
  • Cozy up on the couch and read all day.
  • Take a nap.
  • Listen to music and journal.
  • Cook yourself healthy meals for the week.
  • Meet a friend for coffee.
  • Make your favorite hot chocolate and bake cookies.

Notice the ideas above are different from laying all day in bed crying, teeth unbrushed, bashing your ex. That’s a pity party, and it serves no one – including yourself and your children.

hot chocolate

4. Get the Heck Out of Dodge

Get out of town for the Holiday.

If you don’t have anyone to travel with, then be a tourist. If you feel awkward about being alone while traveling then acting like a tourist, takes away the “weird” feeling. You can even stay in your hometown or go one town over.

Look up free activities in your town or state. At a loss for what to do? Scavenger Hunt Adventures are self-guided hunts in various cities with points, clues, and challenges sent to your smartphone.

If you want to get out of town, there are solo traveling experiences you can participate in.

5. Crowded Areas

If you feel the blues coming on, then get out of the house. Go to a crowded area and let other’s excitement of the season pass on to you. Watch the local Christmas tree lighting or get lost in a shopping crowd and buy some hot chocolate. Smile at others and drop some change in the Salvation Army bucket.

Stop waiting for your life to be different and live now. Is there a movie you want to see? Go to movies. Once the lights dim, no one even knows you’re alone.  Is there a traveling holiday show in town? Go.

6. Overthinking

Sometimes what we need most is to stop overanalyzing everything and feeling so down on life. Focusing on others who are hurting (most likely more than us) is a great way to do this.

Look for a volunteer opportunity near you. Delivering meals is a great place to start.

One year, I adopted a family for Christmas through The United Way. I spent my Thanksgiving evening organizing who would buy what for the recipients and then I Christmas shopped online.

Or find a person that needs their chin lifted this Christmas season then surprise them 12 days of gifts. This idea will keep you busy with planning and dropping 12 gifts off for 12 days anonymously. Plus, the recipient will be blessed. Win-win.

7. Most Likely You Haven’t Asked

As hard as it may be, have you put yourself out there and told others you don’t have plans for the holiday? Not on social media with an uncomfortable announcement. But in passing conversation to a friend.

You never know who may have an extra ticket to a holiday show or who else may be alone but afraid to say it. During the holiday’s people are looking for reasons to open their doors to friends and family.

Related: 15 Promising Ways Single Parents Can Enjoy Thanksgiving

Avoid These Things When Spending the Holiday Alone

Pity Party

Know the difference between self-care and throwing an all-day pity party. If you think you will self-destruct at home this year being without your children, then get out of the house, call a friend, family member, or get lost in a crowd.

Bugging Your Ex

Leave your ex alone on the Holiday. Let them spend the holiday with the kids.

I know you want to see pictures and want the kids back. But fighting with your ex on your kids’ holiday is effectively ruining your kids’ holiday. Let them enjoy the holiday with their other parent as hard as that may be for you.

It’s not about you.

Endless Posting

Posting your woes on social media or sharing memes from “Narcissistic Ex” during the holiday is like watching a train wreck for the rest of us.

You may receive an occasional “like” or “heart” out of pure compassion, but the rest of your friends are praying you would stop or have hidden you from their timeline.

I see this every year from the newly separated, and I’ll tell you what no one else will: stay off social media this Holiday. No one wants to see all these posts, and you’ll end up being dinner conversation if this is your posting style.


When your kids come home from their other parents with stories of how they spent the holiday, just smile and nod. You won’t agree with everything. If there’s a step parent involved, you may not agree with anything. Doesn’t matter, your children don’t want to hear your comments.

Simply smile and nod.

Then give thanks. Your holiday alone is over.

Now, keep your positivity up by joining the 21-day positive mindset challenge for Single Parents.

Spending Holidays Alone - Making the Most of the Season