Making a solo Christmas season nice
November 27, 2019 9:36 AM   Subscribe

The last two Christmases I have done different things. The first one I went to my sisters. On the plus side, I enjoyed the lovely Xmas meal and the chat. On the minus, I had to go through on 24th and return on 26th, and it felt like I ran out of things to say. Also I'm 50 and just really like sleeping in my own bed, the sofa was uncomfy. Last year actually worked out better - I ordered Chinese takeaway for Christmas Day, and was able to visit my sister and return the same day on January 3rd or 4th and still have plenty of time to chat. I feel very lucky the online friends I chat with everyday by voice, a few will be on their own at Xmas Day and we will be chatting and have a quiz etc same as last year. I have set aside in my mind some money to make xmas nice but am not sure what to spend it on yet.

So far I've used a gift voucher to buy a big Yankee Candle which has a nice smell of marshmallows toasting, and also some Christmas themed window stickers which I put up in the main window of my apartment living room. Nearer the time I will be listening to WQXR holiday classical station on the TuneIn app (can be listening to just online too), and I have already started listening to YouTube playlists of soft jazz with titles like "winter cafe jazz". Can anyone share things which they do over the Christmas season, not necessarily Christmas Day, which they really enjoy?

I am slightly limited in having Type 2 Diabetes so I have to go easy on chocolates and sweet things, though I can have some savoury treats.
posted by AuroraSky to Shopping (21 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I would find the softest coziest pjs or lounge wear and socks to hang out in on Christmas. Plus they are perfect for the rest of the winter season so it is worth the money splurge.
posted by maxg94 at 9:40 AM on November 27, 2019 [6 favorites]

I love watching Christmas movies - every year we watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, It’s A Wonderful Life, Scrooged, etc. It really gets me feeling the season. Since I have had my own place, I have bought miniature Christmas trees and decorated them - tabletop size, essentially. Maybe 10 ornaments. It it very cheerful.
posted by hepta at 9:42 AM on November 27, 2019

I don't know where you live in the UK, but I always visit the Met to look at the tree, and then take the bus homewards down Fifth Avenue to admire the storefront decorations. I also often go to an evensong or carols service--I'm an atheist, but the Anglican service is conducive to contemplation and the music is beautiful. I'm sure there are local equivalents to the latter; don't know about the former.

I usually end up at least one Christmas market, though they're often on the janky/generic side.

I will ritually rewatch the Granada adaptation of "The Blue Carbuncle" (Sherlock Holmes), which is as ye olde Victorian Christmas as you can ask for, and, um....the Christmas episode of the old animated Justice League.
posted by praemunire at 9:44 AM on November 27, 2019

i like to watch garfield's christmas and the california raisins christmas special, just for nostalgia. i also like to put a decoration (one) on my apartment door that i enjoy and makes me happy to see when i come home and that other people on my floor might enjoy too. last year it was a paperboard decoration of some kind, this year it is a kliban cat ornament.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:21 AM on November 27, 2019

Snuggle up with Ghost Stories for Christmas.

And usually the Dr Who Christmas special, but the Beeb has decided we don't need that this year. Someone needs to make a VLC mod which will automatically add Santa hats to Daleks for me.
posted by Vortisaur at 10:27 AM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

Cheese and port whilst pursuing whatever cozy activity of your choice

Go for a walk on Christmas Day morning - especially if it happens to be a crisp, bright day. It’s lovely to meet all the cheerful (ok, most of them) people and especially families with kids who are road testing their gifts.

In the run up I listen to all my fav music.

If there are any local shops with decorations etc go and see all the pretty things.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:33 AM on November 27, 2019

We're staying home and making baked brie tomorrow and eating that for dinner because we're adults and no one can stop us from eating all the gooey cheese we want for Thanksgiving.
posted by deludingmyself at 10:34 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Every year around the holidays I like to reread Little Women.

We also make a point to go Christmas light peeping. Depending on your location this could be driving or walking.

Making mulled wine is also a holiday favorite. If you don’t like wine you can always just boil some water, citrus, cloves and cinnamon. You can think of it as a scented humidifier.
posted by MadMadam at 10:39 AM on November 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

Treat yourself to fleece (not flannel) sheets! I’ve gifted them to several people and continue to get comments on how cozy they are even after 2-3 years.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 10:39 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

All good recommendations, thanks all. The first one I have taken action on a few minutes ago was to order Little Women as I have fond memories of the Winona Ryder version and am looking forward to the one with Saoirse Ronan soon, reading the book first seems a great idea at this time of year!
posted by AuroraSky at 10:59 AM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm not religious or a churchgoer, but I go to the Nativity Play at a local church. It's always an 'off the wall' production. For example, a couple of years ago, it was called Boy Story and had various characters who may, or may not, have resembled those from a similarly-named copyrighted Disney/Pixar film. It was a lot of fun, the children in the audience loved it and it felt very wholesome.

I also go every year to a concert of Christmas music with a couple of friends, although I'd be happy to go on my own if they can't make it. It's usually my biggest Christmas expense, although this year the tickets for the London Symphony Orchestra concert at the Barbican were only about £15.

I like a Christmas market, including small local ones at community halls or local arts centres.
posted by essexjan at 11:16 AM on November 27, 2019

My fannish community loves to spend as much time as possible reading Yuletide small fandom stories, which traditionally goes live at midnight EST on Christmas Eve. Even if you're not familiar with fandom, there are always tons of amazing stories posted, and you're guaranteed to find something charming, moving, or titillating.
posted by suelac at 11:16 AM on November 27, 2019

I find all sorts of crafts very satisfying but I hate making things I don't use, so Christmas is a gift because I can make decorations! I like making or at least improving a wreath for my door, and you can make all sorts of clever paper hanging decorations. When I was less busy I used to love making my own Christmas cards - nothing artistic, but very simple designs can be very effective and people like them.

I'm a full on atheist, but I also love music and find I can appreciate the story telling, atmosphere and drama in a good carol service without having to buy in to the religion. If you feel like you are intruding then you can choose a civic carol service where there will be all sorts of non-church people attending.

Christmas food tends to lean towards super sweet and indulgent so I can see why that isn't great to have around. However, you can make other festive foods. Things like glazed ham, or festive flavoured breads, or roasted winter veg . . . whatever fits the bill.
posted by kadia_a at 11:25 AM on November 27, 2019

A bunch of years ago, I attended The Messiah sung at St. Martin's in the Fields, London. I try to go again here in Maine, USA. Someone has started a Barroom Messiah singalong at a local pub; it was really fun last year and will go again.

Have nice food, esp. any traditional meals, and use pretty serving stuff, however you interpret that.

Fairy lights make me happy and feel like a holiday.
posted by theora55 at 11:57 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Lego. Big Lego set. I find it quite meditative, and there are no distractions. Nice music going on in the background.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:55 PM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm a fan of fruitcake (from the Gethsemani monks in Kentucky!) and eggnog with bourbon, so I've already started that little treat in the evenings. Port and panettone cake is good, too, though these are all definitely on the sweet side! For savoury, maybe pistachios and macadamias as a treat, special olives (castlevetrano, cerignola, e.g.), special cheeses, maybe a little charcuterie board. I also like roasted root veg all winter. My go-to Christmas dinner is take-out Indian food that I pick up the day before. In addition to the candles you have, you might also like candles that smell like fir trees (I buy Bedrock Tree Farm soy fir candles, here in the U.S.) I've already strung fairy lights around the windows and they're on as I type, sparkling in the early dark. Old holiday movie classics are fun: White Christmas, The House Without a Christmas Tree, Miracle on 34th Street, the original Christmas in Connecticut, etc., plus funny TV Christmas shows -- AbFab, Dame Edna, Frasier, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, etc. I make cookies, holiday breads, and various kinds of spiced nuts to deliver to the neighbours and some friends. I make my own Christmas cards and send them out, so I get lots in return. You could get a small real tree to decorate. An advent calendar is fun (I love the online Jacquie Lawson advent calendar, with lots of activities to do, too); this year it's a Cotswold theme.
posted by mmw at 1:56 PM on November 27, 2019 [5 favorites]

I'll be alone at Christmas and tomorrow (U.S. Thanksgiving) as well and have been for years.

I like to reread Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy, Little Town on the Prairie, and These Happy Golden Years. The Long Winter is a more somber book, but there are two Christmas stories in it: the make-the-best-of-it celebration on December 25, and the after-the-train-arrived celebration with Mr. and Mrs. Boast.

Caution: Farmer Boy will make you hungry!
posted by jgirl at 3:40 PM on November 27, 2019

Maybe do a Metatalk post to check in with other people who are doing a solo holiday? I started to say commiserate but solo holidays are perfectly nice. I'm doing Jxmas on my own this year so I think I may forego Chinese/movie and just play up the solo part, stay in my sweats, listen to Wagner*, say stupid shit to the cats MORE THAN USUAL, etc.

*what, we all have our idea of fun.
posted by less of course at 4:15 PM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you’re in the UK, listen to A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (or both!). As above, I’m not a Christian, but it always puts me in the festive mood, and there’s something about the acoustics of it being in a Cathedral that makes you feel like you’re among a vast, quiet crowd.

And if you’re British and of a certain age... the year I thought I might be spending Christmas on my own, the first thing I bought was a Morecambe and Wise DVD. However dated they become, they always take me back to Christmas past in a cosy, familiar kind of way.

Oh! And start buying little things that you see that you like - small gifts, cosmetics, socks, DVDs, books, snacks. And put them straight into a box on a high shelf/in your wardrobe where you can’t see them. Take the box down on Christmas Day and revel in the joy of having a box of EXACTLY the Christmas presents you want. For some reason this works so much better when you make sure you haven’t clapped eyes on them for a while.
posted by penguin pie at 5:24 PM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

We’ve been putting one of the dozens of YouTube ten-hour fireplace videos on the TV all evening and it ramps up the coziness factor considerably, even though it doesn’t generate actual heat! Even better in combination with a candle.
posted by babelfish at 10:20 PM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

A lot of years, I've lived in cities far from my family and had most of my friends away. It became a fun game to find out what businesses were open, and sometimes I'd run into people that I knew and get to know them better. Or there's always movies.

I'm glad you have friends you can video chat with! Can you all put on festive clothes/jewelry or otherwise do something to make it funnier?

You're never too old to leave a treat for Santa, even if it can't be cookies.

I still love advent calendars.
posted by mermaidcafe at 8:36 PM on November 28, 2019

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