10 Holiday Activities You Can Do By Yourself If You’re Not Spending Time With Family

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Large gatherings, family dinners, and awkward convos with relatives are often considered a normal part of the holiday festivities. But all those things can be also be stressful as hell, and can make your winter break, well, not feel like a break at all. Whether you want to prioritize self-care time, or if your family lives far away, there’s nothing wrong with having a quiet holiday without visiting family. In fact, it can be kind of fun to create your own way of celebrating the wintry season (or not celebrating at all), and to leave behind the traditions that have left you stressed in the past.

If you want to skip a lot of the standard holiday activities, I don’t blame you; they’re not exactly a recipe for relaxation. According to a recent survey conducted by the leadership training company VitalSmarts, the top source of holiday stress was found to be juggling and scheduling plans. Family events and shopping also polled among the top five stress factors in the survey. Keeping things low-key this season can help ensure your mental health doesn’t take a backseat, and that you step into 2019 renewed and ready — rather than frustrated and frazzled. Here are 10 activities that you can do for a quiet holiday if you’re not with family.

1. Volunteer

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If you still want to honor the spirit of giving during the holiday season, consider volunteering your time and efforts to a good cause. There may be a holiday dinner planned at a local shelter that could use an extra hand to serve food and assist with clean up. Or, you could write holiday cards to incarcerated sex workers. Pick a cause that's close to your heart, and see how you can get involved while you have the extra time off.

2. Have A Movie Marathon

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If you have Christmas Day off work, it’s the perfect time to transform your living room into a fort and have a movie marathon all. day. long. Watch all of your favorite holiday movies back-to-back, or chill out with your favorite film franchise. Harry Potter, anyone?

3. Cook Yourself A Nice Meal

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Cooking is a lot more therapeutic when you don’t have five people fighting for space in one kitchen. And, when you don’t have a bunch of hangry people (not so) patiently waiting in the dining room. Simmer down with a seasonal recipe you can take the time to slow cook to perfection. Plus, hello, leftovers are awesome!

4. Or, Take Yourself Out To Eat

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Who says home-cooked meals are a must over the holidays? If you’d rather not step foot into your kitchen, take yourself on a date to a cool restaurant. Though a lot of restaurants are closed during the holidays, some offer three to five-course dinners for a set price. Do your research and treat yourself.

5. Plan A Staycation

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Rather than dealing with the chaos and financial burden that comes with traveling during the holiday season, try to take a “staycation” — aka, a mini vacation you can take in the comfort of your own apartment. Plan an at-home spa day, hit the town like a tourist, finish up your 2018 reading list. Really, the possibilities are endless. The best part? You don’t have to work around anyone else’s schedule but your own.

6. Partake In Winter Activities

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If you’re not spending the holidays with the fam, you can still participate in some of the classic winter festivities. Find out the hours of the nearest ice skating rink, or hit the slopes at the nearest ski resort. If you’re not that coordinated, most resorts also have sledding hills for adults that can be super fun, and bring back that snow day nostalgia.

7. Pick Up A Hobby

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Ton of downtime in the coming weeks? Now could be a great time to pick up that one hobby you’ve been wanting to try. Whether that’s something crafty like knitting, or trying out a new exercise class, the last couple weeks of December could be all about self-improvement.

8. See Christmas Lights

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Even if you don’t personally celebrate Christmas, taking a stroll under the Christmas light displays can be a whimsical experience. Many cities, parks, and zoos will transform into winter wonderlands during the holidays. Make your experience even better by grabbing a cup of gourmet hot cocoa before you go.

9. Go To A Play Or Concert

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Many theatres will premiere classic, holiday-themed plays throughout December, like A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker. If you’re planning on a slow holiday season, snag a seat at one of your favorite shows.

10. Host A Potluck

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Holiday parties can be super overwhelming, to say the least. However, hosting a small potluck with your close friends is a quiet, yet thoughtful way to get in the spirit of the season when you’re not with family. In addition to dinner, you could even help facilitate a small gift exchange.

Spending the holidays without family doesn't have to be a lonely experience. In fact, it can be a great time to practice self-care, and treat yourself to all the things you wanted to do before 2018 comes to a close.