Most of the supposed tragedies of being an only child have never really affected me — loneliness, underdeveloped social skills, the inability to share food, etc. I've actually spent the majority of my life enjoying not having any siblings. But I have to admit that the holiday season tells a different story: all the celebrations and festivities can sometimes get a bit dull without the ruckus of a big family.
There are no brothers to have a cliche snowball fight with, no sentimental sisters to sob over Love Actually with. It's not like my parents are totally lame or anything. It's just that, other than their two fluffy cats, there's not much excitement when I come home to visit. So I've learned over the years how to revel in the holidays as an only child— without the influx of fun, entertaining relatives.
First of all, it's all about perspective. If you're an only child, you aren't doing yourself any favors by reading Little Women for the umpteenth time and wishing you had multiple sisters who also functioned as your best friends. But there are a few things you can do to make the holiday season more enjoyable. Because not having brothers and sisters is not synonymous with having a boring holiday season.
Here are eight ways to get through the holidays as an only child. I'm sure you have your own tried-and-true methods too, but who knows, maybe this will give you some new ideas.
1. Allow Your Friends To Be Family Too
Your parents aren't the only ones you have to spend time with when you're home for the holidays. In fact, if they're the only human beings you interact with, you will run the risk of going a little crazy. (You've been an only child for a long time, though, so you've probably already figured this out.)
Those long-time besties of yours are just as much your family as blood relatives, and your get-togethers don't have to be limited to shopping trips or movie outings. Invite them over for a special dinner with your parents, a holiday baking bonanza, or the Christmas Eve gift opening session. They're the closest you're ever going to get to siblings — so you might as well treat them like it.
2. Take Advantage Of The Alone Time
You're an only child, so you're not the kind of gal who gets freaked out by alone time. You thrive off of it! The holidays are no different, my friend, so get busy with the moments you've got to yourself. Get some DIY gift projects done or exhaust your parents' satellite TV channels. It doesn't have to be a productive task — just make sure it's something you don't get to normally do during the rest of the year.
Because we became experts at entertaining ourselves when nobody else is around at such a young age, it's easy to forget just how important it is to intentionally set aside alone time on a regular basis. The holidays are the perfect time to remedy that.
3. Don't Put Too Much Pressure On Yourself
I know the feeling: you're the only offspring they've got, so you're their only shot at experiencing joy this holiday season. I used to make this mistake every year, stressing myself out as I tried to decide which present would best say Thanks for putting up with me during my formative years, Mom.
As easy as it is to fall into this hole, prevent this descent from happening simply by taking the pressure off of yourself. Give them a gift that will make them laugh, and know that it is not your responsibility alone to make them happy. (No matter what they might say.)
4. Embrace Being The Center Of Attention
At some point in your childhood, you loved having no siblings — just admit it! Well, instead of wallowing in the fact that there is nobody around to play a fun game of charades with on Christmas Eve, remind yourself of how awesome it can be the one and only. You get to choose when and how the presents are opened and you get the first piece of pumpkin pie.
Unapologetically own your place as the only child. When you go back to your day-to-day life after 2016 kicks off, you'll probably miss the opportunity to demand things right and left, and you'll regret it if you don't take advantage of the opportunities while you still can.
5. Create Your Own Funny Traditions
When you're spending the holidays with a small family, a good way to pass the time is to get your creative juices flowing.
Kick off the day with a dessert buffet and wrap up the evening with pancakes and waffles. Leave out a few cocktails for Santa Claus instead of the tired milk and cookies. Call each other exclusively by middle names on Christmas day. The funnier you are, the quicker you'll forget about the fact that there are no siblings around.
6. Dress However You Want, Whenever You Want
What's the use of putting on real clothes when nobody but your mom is going to lay eyes on you? You don't have to explain it to me. I get it. However, there might be times when you feel like experimenting with a cat eye and tossing on a velvety jumpsuit, even though there's no holiday party or family reunion to use as an excuse.
Don't deny yourself this holiday joy. There's nobody besides your parents around to give you weird looks or question why you've chosen to slap on red lipstick when you're wearing sweatpants. This chance only comes around once a year, so you would be foolish to let it go to waste.
7. Make Lots & Lots Of Homemade Desserts
Even if you're not a fan of being in the kitchen, there is so much fun to be had with experimental holiday baking, especially if you're flying solo. You kill two birds with one stone when you really think about it: you pass the time by quickly while also treating yourself to decadent, festive desserts.
You can go the traditional route and try your hand at baking an old-fashioned pecan pie from scratch, including the crust. There's always the option of being a bit more imaginative, though. How about some red velvet cheesecake cookies, or peppermint chocolate chip cookie bars?
The best part is that these desserts double as a solid gift for friends and neighbors when you wrap them up in a cute bow.
8. Don't Be Afraid To Tell Your Parents To Cool It
For moms and dads all over the world, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year to ask their kids the tough questions. It's even worse for us because there are no brothers or sisters to share the load. You end up being the only one in the house who gets drilled on what's been going on at work, who you've been dating, and what your revised five-year plan is.
Your parents want to know this kind of information so badly that they sometimes go a little overboard trying to pry it out of you. Don't feel like you have to answer all the questions, though. Stay calm and cool about it, but kindly tell them that you're not happy with the grand inquisition. You're thrilled to spend some time with them this holiday season, but you don't want to feel pressured to spill the beans on everything that's happening in your life. You're an only child. You're good at secrets.
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