Real talk: The holidays don’t exactly cater to single people.
The usual activities of feasting, gift-giving, and general gathering ’round aren’t so easy to do when you don’t have a traditional family to fall back on.
After all, parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, and caroling out in the snow usually require some other folks to join in on the cheer.
While being single during the holidays comes with its challenges, it doesn’t have to be a lonely or painful affair—and you don’t have to hibernate until Groundhog Day to get through it.
With a little ingenuity, you can absolutely DIY a “family” of your own making by connecting with friends new and old.
If Santa can fly solo (literally) and still bring the world good cheer, so can you!
Here are 12 ways to create holiday community when you’re a family of one.
A “Friendsgiving” is a Thanksgiving dinner celebrated with friends rather than family.
The idea has steadily gained traction in Millennial and Gen Z culture. According to a survey by Collage Group, 43 percent of Millenials, 39 percent of Gen Z-ers, and 31 percent of the overall population participate in a Friendsgiving event.
Your social circle will probably be only too delighted if you decide to host a Turkey Day feast without the family drama.
If you don’t have a standard gathering to attend on other holidays, there’s no reason you can’t extend the concept for a Friends-mas, Friends-ukkah, or Friends-zaa, too!
Is it really the holidays if you don’t have a movie marathon?
On the other hand, sitting solo in front of the TV might not give you the same warm fuzzy feelings you’d get as part of a group.
You can invite friends or a roommate to join you for a holiday movie session, complete with popcorn and eggnog.
To experience the cheer with loved ones far and wide, consider having a “watch party.” You can simply connect via a video call or use an app made specifically for this purpose, like WatchParty, Teleparty, or Rave.
For those who live in a metro area, there’s almost always something to see, do, or attend during the holiday season.
If your social calendar is feeling a bit sparse, check local listings for activities that will get you out of the house—preferably with a friend. Get a buddy and head to a tree lighting ceremony, a local screening of It’s a Wonderful Life, or an arts and crafts fair for some unique shopping,
Don’t live near a bustling urban center? Your community likely has some events—however modest—to put you in the holiday mood.
Even low-key traditions like ice skating or looking at lights displays can spark the spirit and provide an opportunity to socialize.
Did you ever make a gingerbread house in your youth?
Even as an adult, you can still slather your very own mini-mansion with a blizzard of frosting, gum drops, and peppermints with a more grown-up twist!
For a whimsical gathering with friends, host a gingerbread house-making party complete with adult beverages and creative toppings.
Of course, if you’d like something a little more practical, there’s always the option for the more traditional cookie exchange instead. Each person bakes several dozen of one type of cookie, then creates a varied mix from all attendees’ baked treats.
Don’t overlook your workplace as a source of community.
Try making the office a more joyful place this season by organizing a gift-giving event like a Secret Santa. You’ll bring your co-workers together in a light-hearted, secret agent-style gift exchange—and you might earn some brownie points for taking the lead.
To invest in your community and lift your spirits, there’s nothing like serving others.
Research from 2020 shows that volunteering is associated with positive changes in well-being — a welcome effect at the holidays.
The great part about being single: You get the say-so in where you’d like to serve!
Will it be a soup kitchen? A women’s shelter? A nursing home? Choose an organization whose mission you feel good about supporting.
Even if you’re not a religious person per se, there are still options for gathering in community for holiday services.
The Unitarian Universalist Association is a non-denominational organization that welcomes people of all faiths and walks of life to celebrate the holidays—and every day—together.
Many locales also have meditation centers and retreats where you can gather without belonging to a particular religious group.
If religious faith is a part of your holiday observation, now’s the time to gather with fellow believers. It’s OK if you’re not a regular attendee of faith-based services. You can still make it a habit during the holidays.
Plus, you may experience some surprising benefits from doing so.
A 2020 study found that recent research demonstrates that religious involvement can enhance mental health, prevent the development of mental disorders, and aid in their treatment.
Since they usually offer a weekly gathering of like-minded folks, a church, meditation center, synagogue, or mosque can be an ideal place to make new friends.
Plus, if you find a great community during the holidays, you may want to keep a good thing going by taking it into the new year.
Everybody’s gotta wrap, right?
For a cozy night in, invite a handful of folks to join you in a wrap session. You can even be extra nice and provide some essentials like tape, scissors, and snacks.
While wrapping presents solo may feel like a chore, doing it in a group can be a ton of fun.
You can even get crafty and start with plain brown wrapping paper, holiday-themed stamps, and washi tape. The possibilities are endless!
Early on in a friendship or dating relationship, it can feel awkward to invite someone to a gathering as intimate as a party or movie night.
If you’re new to a relationship, keep the stakes low with a casual invitation to do some holiday shopping together.
The very nature of shopping comes with built-in conversation breaks—a great way to hang out without constant pressure to chit-chat.
Plus, there’s always something new to look at, laugh about, and connect over.
Maybe not all your neighbors love to open their doors to carolers, but they’d all probably enjoy a hand-delivered Kwanzaa card, plate of Christmas cookies, or homemade challah.
Offering small gestures of goodwill to those who live nearby is a surefire bridge-builder for local community.
Who knows, you might just get to know someone new—and the next time your dog barks a bit too loud, they might just overlook it.
We use the Internet for everything these days, from mapping road trips to trying on eyeglasses. Jump online to find your tribe during the holiday season, too.
For the more athletically inclined, Opensports.net allows you to search for pick-up sports games in your area. Ice hockey, anyone?
Whether you’re hankering to take a festive painting class or want to spend your holidays playing Dungeons & Dragons, simply pop your search terms into these sites and—boom! Your people are out there.
No matter how supportive your community, the holidays can be tough when you’re single. Feelings of loneliness, FOMO, boredom, and depression aren’t uncommon this time of year—and going it alone can compound them.
If you’re down with the holiday blues (or worse), you don’t have to go it alone. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member to talk about how you’re feeling, or call SAMHSA’s national helpline at 1-800-622-HELP (4357).
Even if you don’t have family nearby this holiday season, there are lots of ways you can shake things up and find community to spend your time with.
A little bit of creativity, research, and intention can help you create your own special holiday traditions with people who matter to you.
Ready for a calm and stress-free holiday? Check out Healthline’s Season of Self-Care, your go-to destination for the latest must-have health and wellness gifts for your loved ones – and you!