If you find yourself far from family and friends this Christmas, there are other options to avoid being lonely during the festive season – and to make spending it alone more enjoyable.
‘The season to be jolly’ can also be an incredibly lonely time, and loneliness can lead to depression. People may be alone because a loved one has passed away or they are recently divorced. Family may be overseas. Close friends may have other commitments. But being alone during the festive season doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.
Plan your Christmas
Before 25 December, decide what you’d like to do on Christmas Day. You may want to go for a walk, or attend a church service – giving you the opportunity to wish someone a merry Christmas.
If you don’t want to go outdoors, you can treat yourself at home, watching a box-set, planning a holiday, or reading. Plan what you’ll eat too. It doesn’t have to be a traditional Christmas dinner. Being on your own means you can eat whatever takes your fancy.
Attend a community lunch
If you would prefer to have company on Christmas Day, you can have a look to see if there are any community lunches taking place nearby. These events will be advertised in local newspapers or on notice boards. Churches, care centres and village organisations sometimes arrange lunches for people who are single and alone on Christmas Day. Some are free, some ask for a small donation, and 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.
Organise a get-together
Christmas is the perfect excuse to make new friends, particularly as it’s a time when people may find themselves alone because they have lost a partner, or family and friends don’t live close by. If you know of other people who will be alone on Christmas Day, such as a neighbour or someone you see at a regular club, you could suggest a get-together in a local pub or restaurant.
Contact loved ones
No matter how far away your family and friends are, technology 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. And Spring Chicken has a Facebook site to share comments with like-minded people.
Celebrate on 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, you can still celebrate with everyone on another day. Put on the tree lights, pull a cracker, cook a Christmas dinner, and whatever the day it can still feel like Christmas.
Volunteer and help others
It may be a public holiday but care centres and nursing homes still have residents to look after, and dogs and cats still need feeding at animal rescue centres. You could 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.
Talk to someone
If you are finding it hard to cope with loneliness at Christmas time, helplines are open 365 days a year so even if you just want to hear another voice, you can pick up the phone. You can talk to someone at Age UK, by calling the free national advice line on 0800 169 2081. The Samaritans also have a helpline, 116 123, which is free to call from mobiles and landlines.