Holiday Traditions With A Solo Twist
As a Christmas-loving Jew, I get most of my holiday family time before the 24th of December, so I usually spend my Yuletides alone. But I have an admission to make: I actually love it! I get to relax, reflect on the year, and pamper myself. In fact, I like a solo holiday so much that I’ve created festive micro-activities for Christmas Eve and Day.
These traditions have taken me through many Christmases and have helped reconceptualize the holiday to be more meaningful for me. If you too are spending Christmas alone, consider these exclusive holiday traditions to keep you company. You can do them unencumbered by relatives, without a significant other, and completely, delightfully…solo.
1. Hang Up Holiday Stockings For A Cause
While the tradition is to hang a stocking for every person in your household, I like to turn this custom on its head by hanging a stocking for five of my favorite nonprofits or causes. Each stocking has a word on it, and every time you hear, say, or see that word in your home, you put a dollar into said stocking (or an item to donate, depending on the cause).
I like to turn this custom on its head by hanging a stocking for five of my favorite nonprofits or causes.
For example, every time I hear the word “sleigh,” I put a dollar into the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation stocking. For the word “jingle,” I place a donation item from my home in the stocking marked “Downtown Women’s Shelter.” (Think of something simple and requested by the organization—like an unopened toothbrush, a new pair of socks, or takeout silverware packets.)
After a couple of weeks, and once the stockings are filled, I take them to the organizations’ donation sites. I like to do this right before Christmas! You can also schedule a contactless drop-off with most nonprofits to deliver your stocking stuffers safely.
2. Rewatch The Holiday Episodes Of Your Favorite TV Shows
You’ve probably screened most holiday movies by now, but do you know how many Chrismukkah episodes there are of The O.C.? (Answer: There are four, and they’re amazing.)
Have your own private screening of these fun, sometimes-corny time capsules.
Most long-running shows have at least one holiday episode, and you can find these by doing a quick online search or scanning your streaming provider.
So, grab a plate of sweets —this microwavable mug sugar cookie recipe scratches my lazy Christmas cookie-making itch—and have your own private screening of these fun, sometimes-corny time capsules. (Or, watch them by genre, if you’re feeling extra ambitious!)
3. Create “Bad” Holiday Playlists
Everyone seems to love a good holiday playlist, but honestly, my bad holiday playlist is way more fun! While my friends are losing sleep figuring out when to play “All I Want For Christmas Is You” or a Bublé banger, I’m going through old holiday music and choosing the absolute worst songs for my Bad Holiday Song Super-list.
Don’t know where to start? Try this list! Have a Christmas cocktail while giving your full attention to the ridiculousness of non-hits such as Jon Bon Jovi’s “Back Door Santa.”
4. Sing Voicemail Carols
I like to record a different, very silly Christmas song or carol for an incoming caller’s enjoyment.
I dare you to call me during the twelve days before Christmas. Why? Because in the days leading up to the 25th, I like to record a different, very silly Christmas song or carol for an incoming caller’s enjoyment.
It’s a way to carol without freezing in the cold while still subjecting my friends and family to my bad voice and holiday spirit. You can do the same from the comfort of your couch (no judgment, it’s the holidays).
5. Plant A Christmas Tree
For me, Christmas trees are just as powerful symbolically as they are physically sitting in my house (and way less of a needle-y mess). Every year I “select” a Christmas tree through A Living Tribute in dedication to a person who’s meant a lot to me that year. It only costs $10, and the nonprofit then plants a coniferous tree in a designated US National Forest!
Every year I ‘select’ a Christmas tree in dedication to a person who’s meant a lot to me that year.
These trees have eco-friendly benefits, too, like creating more clean oxygen and preserving national parks. So the sentiment and the tree will outlast Christmas.
Feeling especially good this year? Buy a GROVE of trees or more, hero!
6. Write Letters To Your Santa-Self
Letters to Santa may be for kids, but letters to yourself are for adults who want to kick off the new year with self-reflection and goal-setting. Write out a letter to your own Santa-self answering these two questions:
Letters to yourself are for adults who want to kick off the new year with self-reflection and goal-setting.
1. What were you grateful for during the year?
2. What do you want to manifest in the new year?
Save the letter to read for next Christmas, or type it in an email and schedule it to arrive back at you in exactly a year (I do the latter). I usually forget I’ve done this, and when the email arrives, I light a candle and read the letter. It’s a metric of how far I’ve come, and I’m always surprised at how much I’ve accomplished.
7. Dream Up Your Own Holiday Wishlist
What would you love to buy for yourself? Make a list of things you want—complete splurges—print out the list, and put it somewhere with high visual real estate, like the fridge. I so rarely buy gifts for myself that even the act of making this list felt indulgent and fun! The strangest part is that sometimes, items go on sale, and suddenly, the dream of owning this luxurious candle comes true.
Be it the pandemic, expensive plane tickets, or just wanting time for yourself, there are many reasons you may be spending the holidays solo. However you spend your festive moments this year, may you have an amazing time and all the mug cookies your Yuletide heart desires.
Rebecca Leib is a writer, podcaster, and comedian who’s appeared in the AV Club, Bustle, and Marie Clare. Her writing is in VICE, Reductress, LAist, Los Angelino, LA WEEKLY, Art Etc. and on NatGeo, NBC + NBC Digital, Disney, Investigation Discovery, and CBS. Most recently, she worked as a writer/producer on National Geographics’ “Brain Games” reboot with Keegan Michael Key. Check out her comedy/history podcast, “Ghost Town,” and find her on Instagram and Twitter at @RebeccaLeib.