Single During The Holidays? 17 People Share Their Favorite Traditions

We tend to associate the holidays with friends-and-family time. And while all that togetherness is a lovely way to cap off the year, there’s also something to be said for squeezing in a little me-time during the hecticness of the holidays.

Single folks ― or people who are now coupled-up but look back fondly on their single days ― will attest to that.

We recently asked singles and people who’ve spent time alone in the past to share the holiday traditions they love the most. Some traditions were truly solo events, and others bring in friends who might also be alone for the holidays. Read some of the best responses below.

I’d take a singles-only holiday trip.

“When I was single, my favorite tradition was going on a short getaway with a close friend or three, often fellow singletons. We’d rent an Airbnb or visit a favorite (often spa-centric) retreat center. During our holiday trip, we’d exchange gifts, eat yummy food, rest lots, spend time in nature and make vision boards for the year ahead.” ― Jessica Engle, a dating coach in the Bay Area

I solo ice skate.

“I go ice skating by myself. It’s one of my favorite things to do, and I’ve never dated a man who had the balance for it. I still go skating by myself or with friends all through the winter. It’s one of those things that looks super romantic, until you’re watching a grown man cling to the side of a rink, and then you’re just like ‘Yeah, I can do this alone.’” ― Ginny Hogan, a comedian and writer in New York City

I eat pancakes and watch Geena Davis movies.

“I’m single, queer, and the generational-trauma-breaker of the family. Add in the fact that I work in a hospital and you end up with an isolated loner around the holidays. I volunteer to work so others who are close with their families can be with them, and in turn I am at least not spending the day alone. Well, every Christmas for going on 14 years now, after work I will make pancakes for me and my two cats and we watch ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight.’ Pancakes and Geena Davis make everything better. And it’s technically a Christmas movie, right? Like, there’s snow and caroling?” ― Leslie from Mississippi

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“Every Christmas for going on 14 years now, after work I will make pancakes for me and my two cats and we watch ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight,'” said Leslie from Mississippi.

I’d get that holiday pay (and scrounge leftovers from friends later).

“I’m a freelance radio producer and between 2015 and 2021, I worked every Christmas Day and most other holiday days ― Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day ― and I’d go out of my way to try and get work on those days. Normally I’d be sat in a radio station by myself playing out pre-recorded shows for 10-12 hours, but I could earn three to four times what I normally would and so it seemed mad not to. If I didn’t have to be back in too early, I’d go round to my friend Corinne’s afterwards which was amazing because she would give me all the leftovers, her family was great and I’d feel slightly less alone. I didn’t do it last year because it was the first year my mum wasn’t around (she died last March) so it seemed like the best idea to go home! That said, my Dad is a social worker and would regularly work Christmas Day for the same reasons. Maybe it runs in the family.” ― Dan Hudson, a U.K. podcaster from “A Gay And A NonGay” podcast

I make a point to call all my elderly friends who are also alone.

“I spent a lot of time alone on Christmas from the time I first got separated and the next few years after that. The first one, I had a lot of anxiety and was really scared to be alone. I felt sorry for myself and I felt very alone and isolated. I ended up making homemade vegetable soup and calling a few elderly people who I knew were single and alone. I then had a glass of red wine and watched ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ It was such a perfect movie because it’s inspiring and happy. Now, every Christmas Eve, I make vegetable soup, call my elderly friends and family, and watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ It’s simple and a little boring, but I view that as a good thing!” ― Jackie Pilossoph, the founder of the “Divorced Girl Smiling” podcast and site

I call my spiritual reader.

“Single and living in Germany over the 2019 holidays, sobbing on my couch about the wild and painful year I’d been through, I made a decision to try something a little woo-woo. My cousin had recommended a spiritual reader named Terry, and I decided it was time. So, I scheduled the reading, hygge’d the heck out of my apartment with candles, white string lights and fluffy blankets and nervously awaited her call. Long story short, I had nothing to be nervous about ― talking with Terry left me feeling uplifted, supported and peaceful. She asked Spirit for guidance, shuffled decks of cards and pulled out the perfect ones for me. Also, she was hilarious and wholehearted. The reading felt like catching up with a friend who had a connection to the great beyond and wanted the absolute best for me, and at the same time, it was a unique way to start thinking about the year ahead. And isn’t that what the holidays are all about? Connection, coziness, looking backwards and forwards? I repeat this tradition each year also as a non-single person. I make the appointment, set up my cozy space and await Terry’s call.” ― Amy Lynn Hardy, an author from Buffalo, New York

"My cousin had recommended a spiritual reader named Terry, and I decided it was time," Amy Lynn Hardy, an author from Buffalo, New York, said of her now-yearly tradition.

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“My cousin had recommended a spiritual reader named Terry, and I decided it was time,” Amy Lynn Hardy, an author from Buffalo, New York, said of her now-yearly tradition.

I wrap up gifts for myself starting at the beginning of December, then open them all on Christmas Day.

“For the whole month of December, whenever I buy things for myself — whether it be a new T-shirt or everyday groceries, like dish detergent — I wrap them and not open anything until Christmas Day.

“And when Christmas Day comes, I would bask in all the presents I received (from myself) like in the movies! And it would be fun because I forget what I bought myself. ‘Oh yeah, I bought myself a new book…and cool slippers…and light bulbs?!’ I would manage to surprise myself every time ― except for tuna cans. You can easily tell, no matter how well you wrapped them, that they were tuna cans.” ― Angel Yau, a comedian in New York City

I’d fantasize about my New Year’s kiss.

“When I was first divorced following 16 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart, I developed, in retrospect, what was a rather unhealthy holiday tradition: writing about my longing for a New Year’s Eve kiss. Throughout our 24-year relationship, New Year’s Eve had come to have special meaning for me: our first date and 23 celebratory New Year’s Eves that followed, including the last one we spent as a family with our three young children before he walked out on me just days later. He did so after announcing his plans to reside permanently in Hong Kong, where he had been living for work months at a time and where the girlfriend I had just learned about lived, too. I was devastated and scared, embarking on a life of being a full-time custodial parent co-parenting over a distance of 8,000 miles. I wanted a replacement for my husband, someone to kiss me on New Year’s Eve, but more so someone to love me because he said he didn’t anymore.

“After a few near misses, I finally got that New Year’s Eve kiss five years later, and boy, was it anticlimactic! But not because the kiss was bad. It was because I no longer needed it to be happy.” ― Stacey Freeman, author of “I Bought My Husband’s Mistress Lingerie’’

I came up with my “Five Fires of Christmas.”

“I love feeling cozy, sitting next to a fire and sipping a hot drink so I created the ‘Five Fires of Christmas’: I pick five different places that have a fireplace or a fire pit, either a restaurant or a bar. I invite different friends to meet me on these five different days. I have five days of fire and friends. Because that’s what Christmas, to me, is: feeling cozy near a fire. ” ― Crista Beck, a dating coach and matchmaker in Austin, Texas

"Christmas, to me, is feeling cozy near a fire," said Crista Beck, a dating coach and matchmaker in Austin, Texas.

Maria Korneeva via Getty Images

“Christmas, to me, is feeling cozy near a fire,” said Crista Beck, a dating coach and matchmaker in Austin, Texas.

I go on a solo date to Christmas markets.

Anyone who knows me knows I adore Christmas markets. The tradition began when I was living in NYC (Bryant Park being my favorite) and has continued to Vienna, Austria, where I now live (and where Spittelberg is my favorite). While I love going with friends (and sometimes on dates!) I always go alone at the start of the season. I feel a specific type of joy when I walk around a Christmas market solo, taking in the decorative trinkets, the robust smiles on everyone’s faces, the scent of Gluhwein and local candle sellers, and the sparkly lights that make my heart twinkle. When I go to markets alone, I feel like an anonymous extra in a holiday movie, like getting a secret pass to observe. And I take it all in with pleasure.” ― Sonya Matejko, a writer, founder and poet

I make a list of things that are no longer serving me and burn it.

“While a gratitude list is probably appropriate, I always hated Christmas when I was married because all the responsibility for everything always fell to me. Now divorced, I love having some say in my holidays and have a yearly ritual. Early Christmas morning, I sit in the dark in front of the tree, usually sipping tea, and make a list of things I’m moving on from, actions or people or worries that are no longer serving me, and burn them.

“It’s a time for reflection ― something just for me, for recognition of how far I’ve come and the joy I’ve found in places I never expected.” ― Stella Maddox, an author in southern Ohio

I host a gay cookie swap.

“Being single doesn’t mean you’re alone during the holidays. I started an annual tradition with my single, gay friends where I host a gay cookie bake. Everyone brings their favorite cookie dough and a bottle of wine. We spend a couple of hours catching up and having a glass of wine (or two) while we take turns baking our cookies. Afterward, we divvy up all the treats so everyone has a variety of cookies to bring to whatever holiday parties we have that season. And the night usually ends with takeout and a queer Christmas movie, like ‘Holiday in Handcuffs,’ ‘Happiest Season,’ or ‘Single All the Way.’” ― Rob Loveless, the host of “A Jaded Gay” podcast

Rob Loveless, the host of "A Jaded Gay" podcast, has a yearly cookie swap. "Everyone brings their favorite cookie dough and a bottle of wine," he told us.

Westend61 via Getty Images

Rob Loveless, the host of “A Jaded Gay” podcast, has a yearly cookie swap. “Everyone brings their favorite cookie dough and a bottle of wine,” he told us.

I host a sparkle-themed holiday party.

“Sequins, glitter and sparkly things simply put a smile on my face. I loved to take advantage of the holiday season and host a sequin-themed party with my favorite girlfriends. Dress code is the more sparkly, the better! A quick search on Pinterest for ‘sparkle theme holiday party’ should give you tons of inspiration. I personally love a hot chocolate bar this time of year, with all the fixings and toppings, and you can even add a sprinkle of edible glitter on top of the whipped cream!” ― Samantha Burns, a dating coach in Boston

I watch scary movies and make vision boards.

“One year while my kids were with their dad, I used the time alone to totally self-indulge. A nice bath, long nap, a walk outside. I talked to my best friend while she hid out in her parents’ bathroom to get a break from family. That night, I had a glass of wine and some Chinese takeout. It was time to reconnect with myself, and felt indulgent and nurturing. Two years ago, I spent Christmas Eve watching zombie movies and making a vision board of the things I wanted in my life. It was ridiculous and fun, that while everyone else was at awkward Christmas parties with overtired kids and annoying relatives, I was cozy on my couch with a glue stick, planning my future, while also planning for a zombie apocalypse.

“Now around the holidays, I try to remember to have some downtime just on my own to do things that I want to do. We all need that quiet time. I like going out to breakfast on my own, or to see a movie. I watch scary movies and do projects. I don’t have to talk to anyone or stress, I can just relax.” ― Tanya Eby, a novelist, poet and screenwriter in Grand Rapids, Michigan

I host an “orphan Christmas.”

“When I immigrated to Canada, I was single and didn’t have the benefit of any family around, so I definitely spent a few solo Christmas nights in my small apartment. My favorite tradition that sprung up during this was ‘orphan Christmas.’ A friend of mine from the east coast ― similarly without local family ― came up with the idea. There was an open invitation to anyone we knew who was alone for Christmas, even if we didn’t know them very well, and they could bring anyone they wanted. Everyone made a dish, brought a drink and we spent the night listening to old Christmas songs, watching cheesy movies and playing board games.” — Dain Miller, the co-host of “F*ck Buddies: A Sex and Dating Advice Podcast”

"My favorite tradition that sprung up during this was ‘Orphan Christmas,'" said Dain Miller, the co-host of “F*ck Buddies: A Sex and Dating Advice Podcast." "A friend of mine from the east coast — similarly without local family — came up with the idea.

Janina Steinmetz via Getty Images

“My favorite tradition that sprung up during this was ‘Orphan Christmas,'” said Dain Miller, the co-host of “F*ck Buddies: A Sex and Dating Advice Podcast.” “A friend of mine from the east coast — similarly without local family — came up with the idea.

I’d buy the perfect planner and reflect on the past year.

“Back in my single days, my favorite holiday tradition was getting a jump start on a new planner (exciting, I know). I would go to Barnes and Noble and peruse for hours in search of THE perfect one. I won’t get into the nitty gritty, but lined pages, ample room to write, a pen holder, elastic band, and both weekly and monthly views were all non-negotiables.

“Filling out the new planner while reflecting on the past year allowed me to feel fulfilled as a single person and look back at all I accomplished by myself. To add festivity, I’d listen to Chance the Rapper and Jeremih’s Christmas album ‘Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama.’” Natalya Jones, a writer who lives in Florida

I get crafty with a hot glue gun.

“As a single woman at Christmas, I like to decorate a candy-covered gingerbread apartment, because I’ll never have a gingerbread house.

“I like to have girlfriends over for a craft night: I buy supplies for a Christmasy craft project and we sit around and gab and pass around hot glue and make wreaths, snowmen, or whatever, and everyone leaves with a handmade gift they can give people they don’t like very much!” Virginia Jones, a comedian and co-host of “My Sister’s A Therapist” podcast

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