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16 Lovely Traditions For People Who Don't Spend The Holidays With Family

It's OK not to go home for the holidays — in fact, spending the holidays alone or with friends can be great.

We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community who don't spend the holidays with family to tell us the traditions they've created on their own. Here are some of their responses:

1. Buy yourself some presents in advance to unwrap during the holidays:

"Between January and September, I'll buy little gifts and wrap them for myself. Especially if it's something I need and it goes on sale, like soap, air fresheners, socks and underwear. I'll put them in a closet or the trunk of my car to forget about it. Then, in October and December (my birthday is in October), I'll have a reminder texted to me to look like someone surprised me! I even decide which gifts would be better as birthday or Christmas presents, so I'll put one set in the closet, and the other in the trunk. I'll find new places to put them every year, so I can keep myself surprised. I don't have kids yet, so I KNOW they won't be opened by anyone but me!"—geniferd
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

"Between January and September, I'll buy little gifts and wrap them for myself. Especially if it's something I need and it goes on sale, like soap, air fresheners, socks and underwear. I'll put them in a closet or the trunk of my car to forget about it. Then, in October and December (my birthday is in October), I'll have a reminder texted to me to look like someone surprised me! I even decide which gifts would be better as birthday or Christmas presents, so I'll put one set in the closet, and the other in the trunk. I'll find new places to put them every year, so I can keep myself surprised. I don't have kids yet, so I KNOW they won't be opened by anyone but me!"

geniferd

2. Sign up for an extra shift at work:

"I work. Getting paid 2.5x my regular pay on holidays makes me happy. It sounds Scrooge-ish, yet, my mom is proud of job I have. Being 2000 miles away and working in transportation allows me to concentrate on my livelihood. Paying my debts is my Yuletide gift to myself."—hatrbe
Dragonimages / Getty Images

"I work. Getting paid 2.5x my regular pay on holidays makes me happy. It sounds Scrooge-ish, yet, my mom is proud of job I have. Being 2000 miles away and working in transportation allows me to concentrate on my livelihood. Paying my debts is my Yuletide gift to myself."

hatrbe

3. Do a really deep clean of your home with an assist from some wine:

"I love to get a box of wine and do a deep clean of my apartment while listening to my favorite tunes."—katieh49c497c35
Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

"I love to get a box of wine and do a deep clean of my apartment while listening to my favorite tunes."

katieh49c497c35

4. Save all of your holiday cards to read at the same time:

"Every year I save all my Christmas cards and on Christmas morning, with my coffee in hand, tree lit up and cat in my lap, I open the cards, see the pictures, read the stories and I am surrounded by friends and family."—ecmorris1974
instagram.com

"Every year I save all my Christmas cards and on Christmas morning, with my coffee in hand, tree lit up and cat in my lap, I open the cards, see the pictures, read the stories and I am surrounded by friends and family."

ecmorris1974

5. Binge an entire movie trilogy you've never seen:

"I've celebrated the holidays alone for five years now. Every Christmas when nothing is open, I stay in, order Chinese takeout, and watch a movie trilogy I've never seen before! Last year was the original Star Wars, this year it's The Godfather!"—noahflanders17
Andreaobzerova / Getty Images

"I've celebrated the holidays alone for five years now. Every Christmas when nothing is open, I stay in, order Chinese takeout, and watch a movie trilogy I've never seen before! Last year was the original Star Wars, this year it's The Godfather!"

noahflanders17

6. Volunteer at an animal shelter:

"I’ve started volunteering on holidays at the animal shelter near my home. I get to give love to all the dogs and I get so much from the dogs in return."—ilimalatikap
Okssi68 / Getty Images

"I’ve started volunteering on holidays at the animal shelter near my home. I get to give love to all the dogs and I get so much from the dogs in return."

ilimalatikap

7. Or hand out food and products to people without homes:

"I usually go to spend the night with this charity that meets with homeless people in Paris. We offer warm food, coffee, blankets, and sanitary products, but more importantly, a moment to talk with them about their lives, how they feel at the moment, anything they need to share. And we keep driving and stopping at every homeless person we see until we run out of food, etc."—boufrouraaurelie
Brazzo / Getty Images

"I usually go to spend the night with this charity that meets with homeless people in Paris. We offer warm food, coffee, blankets, and sanitary products, but more importantly, a moment to talk with them about their lives, how they feel at the moment, anything they need to share. And we keep driving and stopping at every homeless person we see until we run out of food, etc."

boufrouraaurelie

8. Unplug from technology:

"I turn my phone off, put on Die Hard, pour a glass of wine, and that's the end. I'm a nurse, and I work nearly every Christmas, and night shift to boot. Everyone is pretty respectful of my need to sleep, so I get all my calls the day before, or on Boxing Day."—Lindsay Kottmann, Facebook
Farknot_architect / Getty Images

"I turn my phone off, put on Die Hard, pour a glass of wine, and that's the end. I'm a nurse, and I work nearly every Christmas, and night shift to boot. Everyone is pretty respectful of my need to sleep, so I get all my calls the day before, or on Boxing Day."

—Lindsay Kottmann, Facebook

9. Check out the nearby holiday sights, especially if you live in or near New York City:

"My roommate and I would walk through Central Park, to the Rockefeller Center tree, and back to our apartment on Christmas Day. The rest of the day would be me cooking dinner, drinking wine and introducing her to new Christmas movies or other movies she had never seen. It was perfect because there was no pressure."—nicolem42f2341c9
Cmart7327 / Getty Images

"My roommate and I would walk through Central Park, to the Rockefeller Center tree, and back to our apartment on Christmas Day. The rest of the day would be me cooking dinner, drinking wine and introducing her to new Christmas movies or other movies she had never seen. It was perfect because there was no pressure."

nicolem42f2341c9

10. Host a food-filled open house for anyone else who has nowhere to go:

"With my husband in law enforcement, he’s usually working every holiday. We’ve started the tradition of having an open house, for anyone who needs a place to go. Some people don’t have family, aren’t close enough to visit, or choose not to. We offer an alternative to staying home alone. I also cook for any of the other officers who work the holiday, so they aren’t stuck eating fast food or a cold sandwich for dinner."—samanthat48ffc0353
Erin Donalson / Getty Images

"With my husband in law enforcement, he’s usually working every holiday. We’ve started the tradition of having an open house, for anyone who needs a place to go. Some people don’t have family, aren’t close enough to visit, or choose not to. We offer an alternative to staying home alone. I also cook for any of the other officers who work the holiday, so they aren’t stuck eating fast food or a cold sandwich for dinner."

samanthat48ffc0353

11. And invite your open house guests to do some crafting:

"I have an open door policy at my house from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. for the whole week leading up to Christmas. I provide snacks and drinks, and craft supplies, and anyone can come over and make Christmas tree ornaments. The only rule is that you have to make one for my tree and sign your name and the date. You can make as many or as few for yourself as you want."—ashleya424b36ad1
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

"I have an open door policy at my house from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. for the whole week leading up to Christmas. I provide snacks and drinks, and craft supplies, and anyone can come over and make Christmas tree ornaments. The only rule is that you have to make one for my tree and sign your name and the date. You can make as many or as few for yourself as you want."

ashleya424b36ad1

12. Go on a road trip:

"With both of our families being divorced AND remarried, my husband and I are both tired of having six Christmases. So once we got ~*serious*~ we made our own tradition of going on a road trip on Christmas. That way no one feels like we chose another family over them, and we get away and truly enjoy the day. Plus, after the holiday when we go to each house (usually over the next month or so) we get to actually spend quality time with each part of our family."—morganw4b41ee4c2
Photo by Pietro De Grandi on Unsplash

"With both of our families being divorced AND remarried, my husband and I are both tired of having six Christmases. So once we got ~*serious*~ we made our own tradition of going on a road trip on Christmas. That way no one feels like we chose another family over them, and we get away and truly enjoy the day. Plus, after the holiday when we go to each house (usually over the next month or so) we get to actually spend quality time with each part of our family."

morganw4b41ee4c2

13. Or if you can, get far out of town on a fun vacation:

"My family is far away (I live abroad in Paris) and winter in Iowa is the worst! After a few years here and one failed attempt at going home for the holidays, I just got used to the fact that Christmas wasn’t going to be celebrated with family anymore. I was completely fine with this, but guess who wasn’t? Literally everyone I had contact with in my day to day life from November on each year. They all pitied me because I wasn’t spending the holidays with my family. Two years ago, I booked a ticket to Singapore with stops in Bali and Vietnam. Now, it’s a tradition. Last year was New Zealand, and I’m off next week to Taiwan, Tokyo and the Philippines. Goodbye pity party, hello dream vacation."—alamericaine
Kefkenadasi / Getty Images

"My family is far away (I live abroad in Paris) and winter in Iowa is the worst! After a few years here and one failed attempt at going home for the holidays, I just got used to the fact that Christmas wasn’t going to be celebrated with family anymore. I was completely fine with this, but guess who wasn’t? Literally everyone I had contact with in my day to day life from November on each year. They all pitied me because I wasn’t spending the holidays with my family. Two years ago, I booked a ticket to Singapore with stops in Bali and Vietnam. Now, it’s a tradition. Last year was New Zealand, and I’m off next week to Taiwan, Tokyo and the Philippines. Goodbye pity party, hello dream vacation."

alamericaine

14. Surround yourself with friends, aka your chosen family:

"My family and I aren't particularly close in bond, because I was largely ostracized after coming out, so my mom and I celebrate big holidays with friends. It's much nicer and far less stressful to spend time with chosen family. As an adoptee, I have struggled to smash the expectation of a picturesque, accepting family and not going to visit during holidays like I did as a child, but I've come to realize the importance of friends and how, if I surround myself with good people who love and accept me, they become the family I want as well as the family I need."—mrmediocrates
G-stockstudio / Getty Images

"My family and I aren't particularly close in bond, because I was largely ostracized after coming out, so my mom and I celebrate big holidays with friends. It's much nicer and far less stressful to spend time with chosen family. As an adoptee, I have struggled to smash the expectation of a picturesque, accepting family and not going to visit during holidays like I did as a child, but I've come to realize the importance of friends and how, if I surround myself with good people who love and accept me, they become the family I want as well as the family I need."

mrmediocrates

15. Prepare food for your fur family:

"I go to Whole Foods and I get tons of meat and stuff from the salad bar and hot bar, and I make all my animals a gourmet plate of food and dessert for dinner, including my seven ferals and two opossums that live under my house. They love it! I don't really cook for myself on holidays, but it's one thing that I've actually grown to look forward to. I live 900 miles from family, so these guys are my only family and if I didn't have them, I don't know what I'd do."—sololoba
Chendongshan / Getty Images

"I go to Whole Foods and I get tons of meat and stuff from the salad bar and hot bar, and I make all my animals a gourmet plate of food and dessert for dinner, including my seven ferals and two opossums that live under my house. They love it! I don't really cook for myself on holidays, but it's one thing that I've actually grown to look forward to. I live 900 miles from family, so these guys are my only family and if I didn't have them, I don't know what I'd do."

sololoba

16. And because you can do whatever you want, have cereal for dessert (or every meal, tbh):

"I eat cereal for dessert."—savagechannelle
Photo by John Matychuk on Unsplash

"I eat cereal for dessert."

savagechannelle

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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