For many of us, the holidays are packed with traditions that mostly center around the home. From picking out the perfect Christmas tree to watching A Christmas Story on repeat (and annoying all your Grinch relatives in the process), nothing beats a traditional holiday experience with the family.
Unfortunately, not all of us are lucky enough to celebrate the holidays with our loved ones. Maybe the eight-hour flight isn’t worth the time or money (or the screaming babies). Perhaps, your (soon-to-be former) boss threw a last minute project at you with a super-tight deadline.
No matter what your reason for spending the holidays away from home, moping about and feeling sorry for yourself is no way to celebrate the season. Instead, we challenge you to pull out your Santa hat, blast your favorite Spotify Christmas playlist and focus on creating your own holiday traditions from afar. Here’s how to do exactly that.
Deck the Halls
So, you don’t want to bother decorating your home when no one but yourself will appreciate it. We totally get it.
That being said, you should make an effort to deck the halls and go crazy with the holiday décor this year. Besides making your home feel cozy and festive, decorating your home for the holidays can be ridiculously fun—yes, even if you’re doing it solo!
For instance, why not look specifically for ’90s-inspired holiday décor for your home? Not only will it give your home a quirky and festive touch, you’ll have tons of fun searching for throwback décor, such as a Friends ornament for your tree or a New Kids on the Block Christmas stocking for all of your stocking stuffer gifts.
Host a Friendsgiving
Not doing Thanksgiving with the family this year? Host a potluck-style Friendsgiving instead. Sure, you might feel a little sad at the thought of missing dad’s incredible roasted turkey or grandma’s green bean casserole, but Friendsgiving is truly the superior holiday in every way.
Hosting a Friendsgiving means that you’re in total control of the guest list. In other words, no weird uncles with “colorful” political opinions or cousins who literally can’t stop talking about their ah-ma-zing achievements (we’re all very impressed, Janet).
Basically, a Friendsgiving gives you the final say over everything. Don’t want to get dressed up? Have everyone wear their coziest loungewear and slippers. The beauty of this faux holiday is that there are no rules!
Take Advantage of Technology
Maybe you can’t physically be there to bake cookies with mom or watch everyone unwrap their presents, but you can use the next best thing—video calling.
With tools such as FaceTime and Skype, you can watch your family unwrap their gifts and chat with them over Christmas dinner. Likewise, they can watch you unwrap your gifts and laugh at your adorable cat, who seems to think the tree is her own personal jungle gym.
FaceTiming probably won’t replace the amazing smells and the sheer hominess that comes from being with your family in person. However, talking with your family—even just for a few minutes—can instantly cheer you up and make you feel a million times better.
Exchange White Elephant Gifts with Friends
Nothing livens up a holiday party more than a white elephant gift exchange with friends. To get everybody on board with the idea, consider luring them in with the promise of delicious food, tasty drinks (time to start working on your Mistletoe Martini) and, of course, an evening of present-stealing fun.
Not familiar with a white elephant gift exchange? Make sure to read the rules before you plan your party (many white elephant exchanges limit the dollar value to only include gifts under $50). Once you have the rules down, don’t forget that you can add your own twists to your gift exchange to liven things up!
For an evening of laughter-filled fun, instruct guests to bring the weirdest thing they can possibly find. Trust us, you’ll be laughing so hard that you’ll forget all about being homesick.
Do Something Charitable
When you can’t be with your family for the holidays, you’ll probably have a lot more free time on your hands. Rather than waste that time feeling sorry for yourself, why not give back and do something charitable?
There are tons of ways to give back to your community around the holidays. For example, you could volunteer at the local animal shelter (staff is always short this time of the year) or make items for your local homeless shelter.
Miss your grandparents like crazy? Stop by a nursing home and visit the elderly. Many of them are alone for the holidays and are sure to appreciate your company.
Treat Yo’ Self
Being far from home isn’t always a bad thing! In fact, it’s the perfect opportunity to do all the things that you want to do, like watch Die Hard on Christmas Eve (yep, it definitely counts as a Christmas movie) and play video games while drinking your finest bourbon.
Consider pampering yourself with a luxurious spa treatment. Many spa facilities offer holiday-themed treatments, such as peppermint facials and hot chocolate stone massages.
Don’t want to spend money? Set aside a day of self-care at home by getting into your pajamas, making yourself some hot tea and taking advantage of some last-minute holiday sales.
Be Open to Celebrating Other Holidays
Are you celebrating the holidays abroad? Don’t be afraid to immerse yourself in the local culture and participate in their traditions. It’s bound to be a unique experience that your family will enjoy hearing about when you return.
For example, imagine leaving out not a plate of cookies and milk for Santa, but a plate of broccoli, spiced sausage and wine instead. That’s exactly what many Italians do to celebrate Befana, a kind (but ugly) old witch who gives out gifts on Christmas Eve.
That’s just a taste of the fun holiday traditions from around the world. And, as they say, when in Rome…
Spending the holidays away from home doesn’t necessarily mean you need to miss out on all the homey traditions. Instead, it’s a prime opportunity to create your own traditions and celebrate in some unique ways. With these fun traditions, you can keep your family close at heart and the spirit of the season alive.