This time of year can be ideal for reconnecting with friends, taking care of yourself, creating new traditions and finding purpose through giving.
Here are six ideas to help you enjoy your own company and add meaning and joy to this celebratory time of year:
1. Find your friend connections
It may seem intrusive to ask friends to include you in their holiday plans, but the truth is, just about everyone you know has an open seat at the table if you have the courage to ask. There is absolutely no shame in expressing your need for human connection or in seeking it out with people you trust. You’ll be surprised how compassionate and giving people will be if you give them the chance — and you’ll never know unless you ask.
But if asking seems too intimidating, consider organizing an event of your own. Throw a potluck and invite friends and acquaintances. Most people can get away from family festivities for at least a short time (some really want to), and you may discover others who are in a situation like yours, looking for some together time.
2. Pay it forward: Give back to those in need
Use holidays as a time to volunteer. Serve meals to the homeless or deliver gifts to the homebound elderly, remembering that the gift of companionship is precious. Volunteering is known to help the giver as well as the recipient and can help you appreciate the blessings that you have.
3. Take care of yourself
Holiday stress catches up whether you’re alone or surrounded by people. So care for yourself by booking a massage, making a reservation at a favorite restaurant or splurging on a suite at a ritzy hotel if you can afford it. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to go to the opera or a live sports event, but you’ve never had a companion who wanted to go with you. Now is the perfect time to take yourself.
4. Travel solo
Sometimes, the best thing to do when you’re alone for the holidays is to get out of town. You could go as far as Peru or stay closer to home and still benefit from a change of scenery, with new people and exciting activities you’ve never tried.
A holiday cruise can be a great escape, and some options are surprisingly affordable. Companies like BabyBoomerTrips and organizations like Connecting Solo Travel Network offer holiday cruises especially for 50+ passengers to domestic and international locales.
Also, consider a trip with an adventure company like Row Adventures. These journeys last five to 15 days and are in locations from Montana to Egypt.
5. Take part in holiday activities and festivals
No matter where you live, there’s likely a plethora of local holiday events you could attend, many of which are free of charge or inexpensive for the public.
Most areas have at least a few festive lighting displays, Christmas tree strolls and holiday craft fairs. Bigger cities with museums and art galleries often host holiday events.
If you’d enjoy an outing with a group, try finding locals with similar interests on Meetup.com. Some groups focus on boomers and many throw Christmas, Kwanzaa or Chanukah parties. As long as you are cautious and protect yourself and your information when meeting people online, Meetup groups can be a fantastic way to get out of your shell for the holidays and enjoy activities with people who are in a similar place in their lives.
6. See your family, even if they’re far away
If you can’t access video chat, catch up by phone or email. A simple call can brighten your day and remind you that you are loved, even if you are temporarily flying solo.
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