38 Actually Fun Things To Do if You’re Home Alone for the Holidays

Photo: Getty Images/Marko Geber
Watching Home Alone this year hits different. With a so-called "tripledemic" causing concern this holiday season, millions of Americans are Kevin McCallister-ing away from their loved ones, making the holidays look a little different. Or maybe you've simply decided not to travel this year for completely different reasons. Whatever the case may be, feelings of guilt and profound loneliness can make being home alone during this time of year a decidedly weighted experience. But that's only if you don't have ideas for what to do during holidays alone.

Beyond sparing yourself the mental toll of family drama, being alone over the holidays presents a rare opportunity to celebrate in the way that you and only you want. So, yes, being home alone during the time of year usually marked by group revelry is tough for a number of reasons, it doesn't have to be flat-out dull. Below, get dozens of ideas for what to do during holidays alone that'll make you feel loved, entertained, and festive.

38 actually fun ideas for what to do during holidays alone

1. Read every single book you said you wanted to read last year but didn't

Every Christmas, I ask for five or six books, and read half of them in a week. The rest of the year, the remaining selects in my TBR pile remain totally neglected. If this is relatable, you might as well get back to reading more while you have a moment of quiet.

2. Roller-skate around your house to the Supremes' Merry Christmas album

This is an ideal idea for what to do during holidays alone if you A. have a large enough space, B. have smooth hardwood floors, and C. have roller skates that have been collecting dust under your bed since summer ended. Making your home a DIY roller rink, and blasting "My Favorite Things" feels like a pretty dreamy fantasy to me.

3. Bake some Christmas cookies and delight in not having to share

If you, like many Americans, find the entire process of baking soothing, feel free to try one of our healthy holiday cookie recipes. Or, you know, pre-cut chocolate chip cookie dough is always an option.

4. Or be more altruistic by making treats and sharing with someone in your neighborhood

To that end, it's a great time of year to do a (zero-contact) dessert swap, so see if someone local might be interested.

5. Purge your wardrobe for clothes to donate

Many of us are quitting the hard-pants life for good in favor of matching sweatsuit sets. That's no reason to let great jeans go to waste, though! So, take this opportunity to clean out your closet and share the sartorial wealth.

6. Dress up in your fanciest winter looks

Putting on an outfit can sometimes help change our self-perception, so if you want to feel like a Sugar Plum Fairy, ditch your sweatpants (just for a bit!) for some tulle.

7. Play Secret Santa for someone who could really use the TLC

Maybe this means sending a gift basket to the bride who had her wedding reconfigured and cancelled three times. Or maybe it means something else—the sky's the limit.

8. Put your physical photos into albums

If you can't be with loved ones in person, embrace them another why by finally finding your old snapshots a permanent home.

9. Curate your dream bubble bath

Pinterest is flooded with so many gorgeous ways to soak. Consider a sparkly bath bomb, some dried rose and lavender, or even go for a milk bath, à la Christmas Queen Mariah Carey.

10. Make your own festive cocktail with all the trimmings

I enjoy playing with pomegranate juice and prosecco this time of year, or making the most of my St-Germain for elderflower-flavored beverages. But, there are no rules here.

11. Host your own mid-century-style holiday party on Zoom

I mean, I guess on Mad Men nobody was sitting on their MacBook, waiting for their turn to talk, but you know what I mean. Gather other people who also are at a loss for what to do during holidays alone for a retro-themed gathering. The '60s, the 2000s, or literally any other era that doesn't encompass this godforsaken past year will do.

12. Catch up on the sleep you lost all year

If you have the option of hibernating 'till this whole thing blows over, even better.

13. Read your horoscope for 2021 and make some action points

Next year is astrologically complicated but ultimately looks more optimistic, and you can thank the Age of Aquarius for that. Check out what good things are on their way for you in your 2021 horoscope, and then write down the ways you manifest the reading into reality.

14. Write end-of-the-year gratitude letters to the people who helped you through 2020

You know the ones. Gratitude practices make us feel better, but expressing that gratitude to others is even better.

15. Make a highly a sardonic Christmas card

Nothing will top this ode to 2020, but you're free to try.

16. Plan an extremely lavish trip for next year

Even if that just means adding a bunch of pictures of Austria to your Pinterest board or skimming through AirBnb listings in Vermont, remember that we'll eventually be cleared to safely leave the house. Get yourself excited for when that time comes.

17. Book an experiential gift—for yourself

Sound bath? Tarot-card reading? There are plenty of fun and healing experiences you can now do virtually.

18. Call up someone older or younger than you who might be lonely

Intergenerational friendships can be a positive experience for both parties, so why not use this occasion to reach out to someone?

19. Do a home makeover that’ll keep you happy during these dark times

And to be clear, it can be a makeover that has nothing to do with the holidays and everything to do with intentionally sparking joy throughout this grim season.

20. See if you can complete a whole damn online course

What do you want to learn? How to be mentally fit? The ins and outs of the human body? The basics of cooking any meal that isn't Kraft mac and cheese? World's your oyster.

21. Adopt a dog

If you can foster, adopt, or even just spend some time with an animal this season, you stand to reap some serious benefits.

22. Wrap yourself up in a weighted blanket, make a mulled wine, and compare every single version of Little Women 

EVERY. SINGLE. VERSION. Could also be A Christmas Carol, or The Grinch—anything with multiple adaptations that makes you feel supremely cozy will do.

23. Watch that show that's been recommended to you for six years

I'm specifically referring to Schitt's Creek, which really is as great and joyful as everyone says.

24. Have a day of no tech

Having an untouchable day will reset you and reduce stress levels.

25. Put decorations into your hairstyle

Add in anything: Tinsel, ornaments, an Elf on the Shelf—whatever makes you feel like a human holiday decoration.

26. Have an unhinged kitchen dance party to The Waitresses’ "Christmas Wrapping"

It's the best Christmas song of all time (don't @ me) because it has a cohesive storyline and a very happy ending. Rage hard to this ode of being alone for the holidays—I know I always do when it comes on.

27. Or listen to most obscure Christmas albums out there

I think about the Billy Idol Christmas album every single day of my life.

28. Find a winter wonderland atmosphere to project in the background of your day

There's a very specific nook of visual ASMR videos that are descendants of the yule log and a very big part of my seasonal affective disorder self-care kit. I love this Christmas cafe, this quaint rainbow-lit house, and this stunning living room, complete with boughs of holly.

29. Watch Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square with a loved one on Netflix Party

It is bonkers, brilliant, and maybe one of the wildest rides I’ve been on. So, use one of the ways to watch movies online together with others, even when separated by physical distance, and enjoy.

30. Color code your bookshelf

My friend did this while coping with a cross-country mid-pandemic move, and what can I say? It absolutely brightens up any space.

31. Gather with some locals and explore friluftsliv

Grab your masks, strap on some snowshoes, find some friends, and lean into the Nordic tradition of embracing wintertime outdoor activities.

32. Re-center yourself, because you probably need it

A loving-kindness meditation might be a good one to fill yourself up with compassion and self-love.

33. Have yourself a merry little manicure

I'm typing this with mermaid green nails, and looking down at them does make me happier. So feel free to DIY your nail-care routine and go hard on the glitter.

34. Organize your spice rack

Well+Good news writer Kara Jillian Brown says she loves putting her spices in height order so she knows where everything is, so why not gift yourself the perfect pantry this season?

35. Re-create a family recipe that's usually a staple this time of the year

For me, that's always my YiaYia's avgolemono soup, but I assume for you, it is not my YiaYia's avgolemono soup. Whatever it is, it'll help you connect to that lonely part of holidays spent alone that yearns for tradition.

36. Amp up your Baby Yoda content

He is literally perfect, and I'm not going to even dignify this with a larger elaboration.

37. Investigate volunteer opportunities for 2021, or volunteer throughout the season

As senior food writer Emily Laurence pointed out to me, doing so will make your spirits bright and raise others' spirits, as well. Volunteering gives you purpose, extends your longevity, and makes the world a better place all in one altruistic swoop.

38. Do whatever you want, as long as you practice self-kindness while doing so

Whether you're alone or not, the holidays are just another few days—if you're not ultimately your happiest during them this year, don't dwell. The sun will keep rising, and more days will follow.


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