Spending Christmas on your own this year? Maybe a loved one has passed away or you’re recently divorced. Perhaps your family are overseas and close friends have other commitments. Whatever the reason, being alone at this time of year doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.
Have a plan
Before the 25th, decide what you’d like to do on Christmas Day. Maybe you want to attend a church service or go for a walk – both will give you the opportunity to wish someone a merry Christmas. If you don’t want to venture outdoors, then indulge yourself at home. Read that book you’ve been meaning to start, watch a DVD box-set or plan your next holiday. Think ahead about what you’ll eat too. Being on your own means you can have whatever takes your fancy – turkey pizza anyone?
Alternatives to turkey
Attend a community lunch
If you’d like company on Christmas Day, see if there are any community lunches taking place nearby. Look in local newspapers or on notice boards. Churches, care centres and village organisations sometimes arrange a lunch for people who are single and alone on Christmas Day. Some are free, some ask for a small donation, but transport is often provided. You can also visit the Community Christmas website and put in your postcode. A list will appear showing events happening near you, and if there isn't already one planned in your area you can arrange to host one.
Read our tips for making new friends.
Volunteer and help others
December 25 may be a public holiday but care centres and nursing homes still have residents to look after, and dogs and cats still need fed at animal rescue centres. Volunteering at any time of year is rewarding, so consider helping Crisis at Christmas, serving lunch to homeless people in London, Birmingham, Coventry, Newcastle and Edinburgh. Or get involved with Age UK’s Christmas campaign and visit someone locally just to say hello. Two other websites that make volunteering easy are Do-It and Volunteering Matters.
Organise a get-together
Do you know of other people who will be alone on Christmas Day? Maybe a neighbour or someone you see at a regular club. Even if you don’t know them very well, Christmas is the perfect excuse to make new friends – you may discover they’re grieving or live far from family too. If you don’t want to cater for others in your home, suggest meeting up in a local pub or restaurant.
Alternative ways to spend Christmas day
Say hello to loved ones
Family and friends can be two hundred miles away or two thousand, but technology today makes it easy for everyone to keep in touch. Use Skype or Facetime and see your grandchildren opening the presents you sent – even if they live in Australia. Agree on a convenient time beforehand so everyone has time to chat. You can also set up a Facebook group with close friends and share comments throughout the day.
Read our guide to using Skype.
Celebrate another day
If you’re unable to travel and see relatives or friends on Christmas Day, or it’s the turn of another set of grandparents to have dinner with the family on the 25th, don’t worry. Just celebrate and enjoy some festive fun with everyone on another day. Put on the tree lights, pull a cracker, cook some brussel sprouts and you’ll soon discover you can pretend any day is Christmas Day.
Speak to someone
If you do struggle to cope with loneliness at Christmas time, don’t suffer alone. Helplines are open 365 days a year so even if you just want to hear another voice, you can pick up the phone. To talk to someone at Age UK, call the free national advice line on 0800 169 2081. Samaritans also have a helpline, 116 123, which is free to call from mobiles and landlines.