(Relationships)

Single For The Holidays? Here’s How To Celebrate When You’re Flying Solo

No plus-one necessary.

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You’re at Christmas dinner with your family, surrounded by your parents and siblings and aunts and uncles. Everyone seems to be coupled up. You looked forward to this dinner, yet also dreaded it … because you knew your Aunt Pearl would be there asking demeaning questions like, “So, are you still single?” This kind of commentary typically makes the room go quiet and places all attention on you. You want to disappear. You did so well ignoring the kissy couples around you, not to mention the strategically placed mistletoe hanging across the room. Maybe you actually don’t mind being single during the holidays, but these moments and pointed questions have a way of making one feel uncomfortable ... like there’s something missing in your life, even though there isn’t.

Does the above sound familiar? This scenario and sentiment is quite common during the holidays, especially at large gatherings and family get-togethers. When I was put on the spot about my relationship status one too many times at such dinners, I decided I finally had my fill and responded with, “Actually, I am dating someone.” Everyone’s eyes went wide — who was this mystery person? “Who?” an aunt inquired. “Myself,” I replied simply.

And I really was dating myself. I was happy being single, taking time to see what I wanted out of life, and a partner, but not happy about the expectation that I should be in a relationship (or at least seeing someone). Whether you’re happy, sad, or indifferent about being single during the holidays, there are many ways to celebrate them and still have it be “the most wonderful time of the year.” Ahead, some easy ways to enjoy singleness through cuffing season.

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Book That Trip You’ve Been Meaning To Take

One of the best things about being single is the freedom — freedom to do what you want, when you want (within reason, of course). And this goes for vacation-planning, too. There are often last-minute flight deals over the holidays, especially if you fly on the holiday itself, like Christmas or New Year’s Eve.

In fact, back in 2006 when the movie The Holiday came out, I was in a sub-par relationship in L.A. and wanted to jet off to England … which is exactly what I did. I called it quits with my significant other and booked a last-minute ticket to London for Christmas Day.

Instead of finding a Graham in my housing rental, I found a Colin in the train station, who was heartbroken over his ex and showing me pictures of the cats they’d now have joint custody of. Although I didn’t exactly find a rom-com-worthy boyfriend that day, I did make a new friend as I played the role of therapist as best I could.

Getting away from L.A. also allowed me to escape my day-to-day life for a bit. I saw as many London sights as I could — you can never have too many scones and cups of tea, right? — and then I made my way to Manchester to see some family friends. It ended up being the perfect winter vacation, and one I’ll never forget.

Party With Other Single Friends

Even if you don’t want to date at the moment, there’s strength in numbers, right? If a friend is throwing a holiday dinner party — but it’ll be all couples and you aren’t in the mood for more Aunt-Pearl-type questions (or an “accidental” set-up) — don’t go. Instead, get together with some other single friends — or a mix of couples and single friends — where no one will hassle you about your relationship status.

One Valentine’s Day, I attended a speed dating event on some ski slopes in Wisconsin at Wilmot Mountain. I ended up befriending two attendees — and we’re still in touch today.

Similarly, Meetup.com — the community-building website and app wherein you can do everything from find hiking groups to food-based gatherings — has a ton of events for single people (and for people in general). Whether you want to date or not, Meetup will make sure you always have something to do with people who share your interests.

In fact, in a quick search the other day, I saw everything from potluck Christmas dinners to New Year’s Eve parties. A few years ago, a guy friend suddenly had no New Year’s Eve plans and decided to try his first-ever Meetup event. He was hesitant to go to an event alone, especially on such a high-pressure holiday like New Year’s Eve, but ended up having a great time since many of the attendees had shown up alone, too.

Throw A Party

Every December, whether she’s in a relationship or not, a friend of mine throws a holiday party where all kinds of people merge: singles, couples, and those in yet-undefined dating stages. The idea is to just have fun and enjoy each other’s company without any expectations. I usually help my friend create fun, festive drinks, like Mistletoe Mules (adorned with holly or baby pinecones and candy cane straws), and we have everyone bring a White Elephant gift.

If no one you know is having a winter soirée, throw one yourself! It’s not as labor-intensive as it sounds, especially if you make it potluck or just center it around appetizers and dessert — with some festive holiday drinks and mocktails thrown in for good measure.

You can also make it a theme party — like ugly holiday sweaters or upscale cocktail party attire. Or you can even have some friends come over to help decorate your Christmas tree and make holiday cookies. And if the idea is to meet new people, or potential significant others, you can have everyone bring a single friend.

Savor All The Me-Time You Have

Instead of taking a vacation over the holidays, perhaps you’d like to take a staycation or go on a wellness retreat — and relish all the me-time you finally have during your holiday break (or perhaps a few slower-paced weeks if you still have to work). As a singleton, you can plan your days however you’d like, and the holidays are a perfect time to do some self-reflection.

You can journal, do some goal-setting, finally try meditating or yoga, check in with your therapist, watch the latest Netflix or Hulu series, declutter your home, repaint your kitchen, apply for new jobs if you’re unhappy in your current one, and 101 other things you haven’t gotten around to doing yet.

And if meeting a significant other is an eventual goal, they say you can't really love someone else unless you love yourself first. So the more you practice doing so, the more prepared you’ll be when the time comes.