Christmas is coming, and many people are starting to plan getting together with family and friends. But for many of us on our own, it can also be a melancholy time to reflect on how nice it would be to meet someone to spend some precious moments with over the festive period.
Fortunately, for those looking for friendship or more, this is the ideal opportunity for meeting new people, with plenty of chances to strike up convivial conversations in the spirit of the season, in a way that perhaps we wouldn’t do at other times of the year, or to get involved with one of the many activities and events taking place over the next couple of months.
Now, for instance, is the perfect time to join a choir. If you don’t want a huge commitment, many charities get together to create a carolling group just for the season and will welcome new members to make up numbers.
Or how about taking up volunteering? At Christmas charities and organisations need extra help; if you’ve never tried it before, volunteering can be a great way to meet a new circle of friends as well as help boost self-esteem. The National Trust relies heavily on volunteers to help run their properties and shops, but there is a huge amount of different opportunities available across the country, from soup kitchens to befriending.
Search for do-it.org to find out what’s available in your area and look for something that is of genuine interest so that you can meet like-minded people – conservation work, for instance, or working with animals.
How to make new friends
Rather than shop online, go out and about and do your shopping in the old-fashioned way – at the shops! Shopping online can be incredibly convenient, but it’s also very isolating. Target your shops carefully. Look out for specialist shops where you are more likely to engage with the people serving in the shop, particularly if it’s the type of art gallery or craft shop with a café that will give you a reason to keep popping back in once your festive shopping is done.
Say yes to every invitation you get; accepting invitations might seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes when we are on our own, it’s easy to convince ourselves that it’s all a bit of an effort to go out on a cold winter’s evening to a concert or out to dinner, and we’re much better staying tucked up indoors.
Alternatively, host a drinks party yourself, asking each guest to bring someone you’ve never met before. Even if you don’t meet someone you really click with, the knock-on effect of boosting your circle of acquaintances may mean you meet someone special in future, via one of your new contacts.
And remember, you’re not alone in feeling alone, but making an extra effort could pay dividends. Even if you don’t meet anyone new, being socially active is as important for our wellbeing and health as being physically active and will boost your confidence and help you maintain a clearer sense of identity and self-worth – all attributes that will help for when you do meet someone new.
And rather than go for traditional party wear, show the world that you’re in the festive spirit, and treat yourself to a Christmas jumper. Wear it wherever you go – you are bound to strike up a conversation or two.
When friends let you down
Dos and don’ts for meeting new people at Christmas
• Don’t get too caught up in the sparkle of Christmas. If you do meet someone you’re interested in romantically, remember the first date during the festive season isn’t usually quite like the first date during the dead of winter in February. Let your heart be swayed by a glassed of mulled-wine under the Christmas tree and you might be sorely disappointed when the fairy lights have all been packed away. The same goes for a new friendship – you might have lots to talk about if, for example, you both love Christmas, and then find once the tinsel is packed away, you no longer have anything in common. Best to take things slowly, while enjoying the moment.
• Don’t buy lavish gifts for your date or new friend if you’ve only recently met in the lead up to Christmas. You don’t want to look too keen!
• Much as you’d like to, don’t invite your new friend to come round to meet the family at Christmas after just one or two meetings. This is your family’s Christmas as well as yours, and any awkwardness might spoil their fun. Best to prepare them in advance for a meet-up in the New Year.
• Equally, don’t feel hurt if you aren’t invited over at Christmas, as it’s often a time for family and won’t in any way reflect how they feel about you.
• Keep busy and keep fit to help you feel positive. Making exercise a priority will ensure you stay fit and healthy as the winter progresses, for the time when you do meet someone new and adding a few regular weekly events in your diary will help you avoid social withdrawal.
• Start thinking about New Year’s resolutions to build up your social network. Many of the ideas above can take place at any time of year – well, perhaps not the Christmas jumper!
• Start to compile your dating profile to go online after Christmas. This is traditionally the busiest time of year for people signing up for online dating and you’ll have plenty of prospective new dates to choose from after the New Year.
• Consider treating yourself to your own Christmas present of getting a professional photograph taken for your online profile. If you can only find one of you that is slightly blurry or on holiday with a hat and sunglasses on, or even one that is ten-years old, make yourself the best you can be by investing in a shoot with a professional photographer who specialises in dating photos.
Eight tips for building friendships