I have a confession to make. My best friend was horrified when I admitted it. This year, for the first time every I'm spending the Christmas period by myself, in my empty Los Angeles apartment. Flights back to the UK are expensive and I'd be working all Christmas at the holiday cottages if I were to fly back, and I have a few projects I want the peace and quiet when I don't have anything else in the world to do. When I started to rationalise it, I realised while I was still worried about being lonely so far away from the Christmasses I'd grown up with at my parents house in the crisp Kentish countryside, there were a few upsides to having the season to myself. Is it bad that the first thing that popped into my head was that I could cook myself whatever I wanted? I absolutely loathe roast dinner, and therefore Christmas dinner!
Photo by Tracey Ayton
With this impending solitude during what is usually my favourite time of year, with none of my usual culinary and tree decorating traditions to uphold, I started to think up what I could do to keep myself festively occupied during the downtime - I can't work all the time! As I doubt I'm the only one out there spending the day by myself, I thought I'd put together a handy guide of 50 ways to enjoy a solitary Christmas!
- Treat yourself to a few Philosophy festive shower gels to get you into the Christmas spirit, or to take long luxurious baths in. They have some great scents such as Gingerbread, Candy Cane and Egg Nog this year.
- Make your own Christmas decorations. Not only is this a great afternoon craft project, but you will reap the festive benefits until the end of the season! Personally, I am going to make one of my DIY Tissue Paper Tassel Garlands in red, purple and gold.
- Make a list of all your favourite Christmas films, rent them on DVD or on iTunes, or borrow them from friends and watch one every evening. Love Actually and The Nightmare before Christmas anyone?
- Craft the perfect Mulled Wine recipe.
- Read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I usually don't like his writing, but this tale is so festive - I went to a reading of it one December and it has to be one of my best Christmas memories of my teens.
- Make a sales hit list. Loads of things being reduced on Boxing Day, sometimes by lunchtime on Christmas Day can tempt you into buying stuff you don't need just because it looks like a good bargain. Spend some time online making a list of only the things you really want or need, so you can sale shop with focus and not go in blind.
- If you don't want to be by yourself on the day itself, go volunteer at a shelter or a soup kitchen on Christmas Day and help spread the festive cheer.
- Buy, rent or borrow a complete DVD box set of a TV Show you never saw but regret not getting into and have a marathon with it over the holidays. I think I'm going to watch either the whole of Breaking Bad or Rome this Christmas.
- Take something from your usual Christmas indulgence traditions and indulge yourself. My parents and I usually share a big festive themed box of Hotel Chocolate truffles; this year I'm going to treat myself to a box and not have to fight over who gets the most popular flavours!
- Find somewhere festive to go on Christmas Eve like a Christmas market to soak up some of the festive atmosphere and enjoy a nice hot cup of mulled wine from a street vendor.
- Re-watch all of your favourite Christmas specials from some of your favourite TV shows. Personally, the original Chrismukkah episode of The O.C and last years Downton Abbey Christmas special are going to be on my watch list.
- Treat yourself to some nice loungewear. At least on days like Christmas day when all the shops are shut, you'll be holed up at home, and you'll be surprised how much of a diference some cute and cosy pyjamas will make. I want these plaid pyjama bottoms from the J.Crew Factory Store.
- Bake something festive like mince pies, gingerbread of festive iced sugar cookies. It does not matter that you've made a big batch for just one person, you can take the leftovers to a shelter.
- Set yourself a challenge. I absolutely adore marshmallows, but I've never tried making them before. Joy The Baker has a great and festive peppermint marshmallow recipe in her cookbook, which I'm setting myself the challenge of making!
- Read your favourite blog from start to finish, from their very first post.
- Get ahead. I know it is not ideal to study over Christmas, but think how much free time you'll have when you are not alone at home if you getting everything you need to do for January done way ahead of your deadlines.
- Take the time to write handwritten letters to your long distance friends and elderly family members.
- Do an epic jigsaw puzzle, imagine the sense of accomplishment when you finish a 5,000 piece!
- Bake a batch of my Orange & Festive Spice Biscuits.
- Spend an afternoon Youtubing your favourite comedians. My favourites to search for are Jack Whitehall and Michael McIntyre. I promise you'll find yourself doubled over!
This reminds me of a British Christmas. Photo by John Hackston.
- Read the years bestsellers list. Either for Kindle, iPad, from the library or treat yourself to a pile of paperbacks. Every book that was supped to be great in 2012, and you never had the time to read.
- Make and decorate a gingerbread house. It is Christmas, so it does not matter if you eat it all by yourself!
- Treat yourself to an adult Lego structure and build it. My childhood Lego memories may be of building Hogwarts castle out of Lego, but you can get some pretty intricate sets where you can build things like London's Tower Bridge.
- Start a blog. If you don't already write one, Christmas when you have time on your hands is the perfect time to start one - I think starting this site has to be sone of the most rewarding things I've ever done.
- Break out the nail art pens and glitter nail polish and brush up on your nail art skills by practising drawing delicate snowflakes and tiny snowmen on your digits.
- Make a handmade Christmas wreath for your door. Even if you're alone for the holidays, other people in your street or in your building will still be able to enjoy it!
- Read all of the Harry Potter books.
- Learn to knit. Who knows, you could be making everyone scarfs or jumpers by next year!
- Make paper snowflakes, especially if you live somewhere like Los Angeles like I do, and you won't be seeing any actual snow. I used to sit in class doing this in December when I was still at school all the time!
- Buy some festive scented candles to fill your home with holiday scents. Yes, I am still lusting after this pine tree Diptyque candle.
- If you live somewhere populated, take a walk or a drive around and admire the Christmas lights other people have decorated the front of their houses with - without incurring the electricity bill!
- Also if you live in the big city, take a stroll to admire all of the Christmas windows in your favourite designer stores or big department stores. Jealous of people who can do this in NYC!
- However, if you live in the countryside, get up early, wrap up warm, grab your camera and head outside. Lucky if you have fresh snow, but even not things in the countryside look so crisp and magical covered with frost, and it is so silent - perfect for a refreshing wake up walk!
- Watch A Muppets Christmas Carol.
- Go see a film on Christmas Day. I'm planning on going to see The Hobbit!
- Update your iPod with music from 2012 you forgot to download, and clear out old tunes you always skip when you're playing it on shuffle.
- Google some homemade face mask recipes and have a pampering session.
- Sort out your closet and donate clothes you don't wear anymore to charity.
- Read a biography of someone you really admire, or find amusing. I read great books on David Cameron, and Michael McIntyre's biography last year.
- Make a list of places you've always wanted to travel to, and plan your next Summer holiday.
Photo by Roman Kargapolov
- Sort through your magazine collection.
- If you have any snow outside your home, go practice your snow sculpting skills.
- Sort through your Google or Bloglovin reader, and clean out all the blogs and websites you don't really read or pay attention to anymore, or have stopped updating.
- If you are not already on Pinterest, sign up. If you already are, put together a festive board to help get your into the holiday spirit.
- Put a Christmas photo as the wallpaper on your laptop and your phone so you get hit with a little festive spirit every time you go online or check the time.
- Send your Facebook friends and email contacts messages with cute photos of animals in Christmas hats.
- Make an effort with breakfast. Usually, we're always pressed for time in the mornings, so we never get a chance to have a Full English or American Pancakes on a weekday.
- Make a Christmas playlist on Spotify and dance around listening to it. Not that I have ever done that before or anything as silly as that..!
- Re-read your favourite book in a nice hot bubble bath. Preferably with a Lush festive bubble bar, bath bomb or bath melt. I love ones with cinnamon in!
- Hide little sweets or candies around the place for you to forget about, then get pleasantly surprised when you stumble across them sometime in 2013.
I'd love to hear your suggestions if you have any ideas, either in the comments section or via Twitter!