When you picture celebrating the holidays, what do you envision? Maybe it’s a magical scene with your entire family gathered around the table about to dig into Thanksgiving dinner, or perhaps you see everyone lounging by the perfectly decorated Christmas tree, opening gifts, and cheerfully singing carols.
Sometimes, it’s not possible to celebrate with your family. And even if it is possible, do your holidays really look like that?
Maybe you live far from family, the flights are too expensive, and you’re on a holiday budget. Or maybe you’re pregnant or have a newborn at home. There are plenty of reasons why you may not make it to the family celebration this year. Don’t feel guilty for missing it, and don’t feel too left out of the fun.
If you find yourself spending the holidays apart from the rest of your family, you can still celebrate and make the most of the festive season, no matter where you are or who you’re with.
Here are some helpful tips to keep the holiday cheer in full force, whether you’re with your family or thousands of miles away.
1. Enjoy who you are with
First, don’t focus on who you are not with during the holidays, instead be thankful for those you do get to celebrate with. Perhaps it’s just your partner and your baby. You can still celebrate and make special memories even if it’s simply the three of you. Instead of having to spread yourself thin trying to catch up with tons of relatives, take advantage of uninterrupted bonding time with those around you.
2. Create your own traditions
And as you spend this time with your family, it’s the perfect opportunity to spark new traditions in your home. Take inspiration from family traditions and put your own spin on it. Take a family walk or drive to admire the lights, host a hot chocolate movie night in your matching holiday pajamas, have a gingerbread house building competition, or spend time volunteering and giving to those in need.
3. Schedule a FaceTime date
Thanks to technology, we can feel like we’re celebrating with a crowd, even if they are thousands of miles away. Schedule a specific time for a FaceTime celebration. Maybe just as you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner to share what you’re all thankful for, for singing songs, or opening presents. Feel a part of the action no matter where you are.
4. Set up a virtual Secret Santa
Who doesn’t love getting a little something in the mail? You don’t need to physically be together to draw names out of a hat for a Secret Santa. Free online services like Elfster can help you set up a gift exchange from afar. These services are even better than the old school way to do things. You are guaranteed not to pick yourself, no one can secretly peek at your selection, and you can even add gift wish lists.
5. Round up your friends
There’s a good chance you’re not the only one unable to make it home for the holidays. Ask around and gather a group of friends (or even friends of friends!) to create a Friendsgiving or other friend-focused celebration during the holidays. By inviting friends of friends, you might even make some new and meaningful connections out of the situation. The holidays tend to bring people together, even if you start out as strangers.
6. Take a last-minute staycation
If flights are out of the question but you don’t feel like celebrating at home, plan a one-night staycation instead. If you didn’t bother to decorate your home for the holidays, this is the perfect way to enjoy a cozy night full of holiday cheer minus the effort it takes to put up a tree. Think about things you might not have at home like a fireplace or a big bathtub. Take advantage of your ability to do things last minute and make it a fun adventure, searching sites like HotelTonight for deals week or day-of. There’s a special kind of freedom being able to book a trip and head out the same day.
7. Reschedule the holidays
The calendar this year says Thanksgiving is November 28, Hanukkah is December 22, and Christmas is December 25. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only time you can celebrate with holiday cheer. Flights are notoriously expensive right around the holidays whereas according to travel site Skyscanner, January is one of the most affordable months to travel. If money is what’s keeping you from flying to family, suggest simply rescheduling the holidays. It might feel silly to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner in January, but once the festivities begin, you’ll get over the date and will be thankful to be celebrating, even if it’s not when you’re “supposed to.”
8. Enjoy it!
And finally, just enjoy a quiet holiday season! We’re not saying that we don’t want to celebrate with our families (love you mom and dad!), but let’s be real, there are some positives to staying put this holiday season. We tend to sugarcoat things and see the grass is always greener. Of course, celebrating with family is wonderful, but don’t forget about the true nightmare of traveling during the holidays, having to sleep in your old twin bed, or any family drama that might be brewing. If you have some time off from work and get to hang at home and relax, simply enjoy it!