You love your new job. Your new coworkers are amazing, your new city is fantastic and your new place is incredible. You also love the opportunities you know you’ll have because you were willing to move away from your hometown to pursue your career goals.
Picking up and moving away really has its benefits, but it also has its downfalls. No matter how much you love your new life in your new location, it’s tough to be so far from family during the holiday season.
Maybe you can’t take the time away from work to travel home, or perhaps, like most millennials, you don’t have enough in savings to afford the travel costs right now. Whatever the reason, going home for the holidays just isn’t an option this year.
It isn’t easy to get into the holiday spirit when you can’t be with your loved ones, but there are plenty of ways to celebrate the holidays when you can’t afford to visit family.
1. Decorate like you would at home
Just because you aren’t with your family doesn’t mean you have to give up on tradition. Decorate your home or apartment the way that you helped decorate your childhood home while growing up. You can keep the spirit of the holiday alive even if you can’t be there in person to spend the time with family.
Bake cookies, turn up the holiday music, and enjoy the fact that you don’t have to stress about holiday travel. Turn your home into your own personal holiday retreat.
2. Start your own traditions
This is your time to start your own holiday traditions! The holidays can be a big blank slate if you want them to be. Eat the foods you want to eat, decorate the way you want to decorate, and decide which events and ceremonies are important to you. Being alone for the first time during the holidays is a great way to assess your priorities and figure out which traditions you want to keep and which you’re likely to toss.
3. Spend your holiday doing charity work
If you can’t go home for the holidays, consider spending the holidays engaged in charity work. Serve dinner at the soup kitchen or deliver toys to children through local charities. Contact your local community center or Boys and Girls Club to see if they need any help with holiday programs for the kids. There are endless ways to give back during the holidays, especially if you would have just spent the day alone.
4. Volunteer at a care facility
Retirement homes, hospice care centers, and elderly living facilities all have aging members of our community who due to age, sickness, or distance, can’t go home for the holidays either. Volunteer a few hours of your day to help bring some holiday cheer and the joy of the season to the aging members of the community.
5. Attend the local holiday celebrations
The holidays are the best time of year to experience the local flavors and traditions of your new city. Find a festivalto attend, watch your city’s parade or holiday events. Go ice skating with friends and then walk the town to look at lights while drinking hot cocoa. Enjoy all of the holiday activities that are available in your new city. Next year during the holidays, your city may even feel like home.
6. Host a holiday party
It’s practically a guarantee that you’re not the only individual who can’t go home for the holidays. Open up your home, and host a meal or party to offer holiday refuge to friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Plan a potluck where everyone brings their favorite traditional holiday dish, and then have a white elephant gift exchange after the meal. It won’t be like home, but it will be a fun evening spent with friends, instead of a lonely evening spent without company.
7. Start saving for next year
Don’t feel guilty for being away from family because your career just won’t allow it this year. It’s okay to have a low key holiday every once in a while. Since you won’t be traveling, you’ll probably save quite a bit of money this year. Set aside the money you would have used on the holidays so that you will be able to visit your family next year if you want to.
Don’t feel like you can’t decorate how you want to and celebrate how you want to just because you won’t be with family. Make the most of your situation this year and branch out into your new community. Offer your help, time, and efforts to others. Get out into your new city and take part in their holiday traditions.
And who knows? Perhaps by enjoying the different ways to celebrate the holidays this year, by next year your new city will feel like home.
If going home for the holidays isn’t an option this year, how will you spend the holidays?