Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but sometimes it’s impossible to make it home. Here are 10 ideas of what to do over the holiday break to make the best of it.
Create family away from family.
If you’re alone for the break, I guarantee there are a handful of other people who are alone as well. Find friends who are stuck here too and make the best of it. Set up a Christmas tree in your dorm or apartment and decorate like you would if you were at home. Invite friends over and draw names for a gift exchange. Make the most of it, friendships will grow as you create a family away from family.
Host a crazy white elephant sweater party.
What better way to celebrate than to throw a big crazy sweater party? Some of my favorite memories over the last few years is when we get all together and bring ridiculous gifts, and dress even more ridiculously and party in style. A white elephant gift exchange is just a gift swap, but it’s used more for entertainment than actual gain. Some white elephant gifts I’ve seen in the last few years include: three blind mice, an inflatable unicorn head, a bobble head Jesus, a stuffed chicken and toilet paper with Obama’s face on it. The more ridiculous, the better.
We typically do prizes for those who dress the craziest as well. People have gone as far as strapping actual Christmas lights to their sweaters, others coordinate with their best friends to show up in unison. I’m pretty sure a skinny Santa Claus showed up last year.
Run a 5K.
This isn’t my forte, but there are super festive 5K’s on most holidays that you should check out, especially if you’re into fitness. This year, scoop up your friends and head to Galveston for the Santa Hustle and run for a good cause. After the 5K, hit up the beach or one of the 24 hour diners. You can even make a full weekend of it and enjoy the island in all it’s splendor.
Invite yourself to a friend’s house.
This may seem a little crazy, but do it and you won’t regret it. My family growing up would always have extra spots at the table for people who could not make it home for the holidays. My close friend, Alex, is from Michigan originally but moved to Texas for a job and settled in. It was impossible for her to make it home for every single holiday, so some years Alex would stay in Houston. That was definitely not a problem for us, as I recall Alex having the most insane holiday schedule going to all her friends’ homes for the holidays. She even came to my grandma’s house on Christmas Day. (I’m still a little salty that Alex is now my grandma’s favorite granddaughter.)
Was Alex comfortable confessing to her friends she wouldn’t be going anywhere for Christmas? Probably not. Did we care? Not at all. Drinking hot chocolate and laughing about the fact that we are 20-somethings waiting up for Santa in our onesies made for the best Christmas ever.
Get a seasonal job/pick up overtime at your current job.
Most employers pay time and a half if not double for working on holidays. Picking up a shift is a great way to stay busy and spread Christmas cheer at the same time.
Volunteer with local charities.
There are a lot of charities and organizations that are on overload during the holidays. From passing out coats and presents to those in need, to making sure every homeless person in the city has a full belly, there are always opportunity to serve those less fortunate—you’ve just got to step out of your comfort zone. Some places that will definitely need help are: Star of Hope, Meals on Wheels, and Volunteer Houston.
FaceTime your family or close friends that live far away.
It’s crazy how far technology has come, it’s so easy to pop up in a someone else’s living room with just a push of a button. When me sister lived in India, we Skyped her right as we were opening presents. We passed the phone around and everyone was able chat with her; it’s one of our favorite memories.
Recreate traditions from your childhood.
If you can’t make it home for the holidays, recreate your favorite memories. Decorate cookies, stay in your PJ’s all day and watch the Macy’s Day Parade, eat pumpkin pie for every breakfast until the pie runs out or order Chinese on Christmas Eve. One of my fondest memories around the holidays as a kid was making a fort out of blankets and having a movie night. Even as a grown woman, I will make sure this happens this year.
Even if you can’t make it all the way home for Christmas, get out there. Take a Greyhound to Dallas or Austin. Take a roadtrip to San Antonio and stay in a hostel. There are super cheap ways to still feel like it’s a holiday than to stay put.
Relax and take advantage of the break.
Everyone has that one book they want to read, movie they want to see, or activity that they want to do but never feel like there is enough time. My currently unachievable goal is to watch Downton Abbey in it’s entirety. That, or to finally read the Harry Potter series, but I never feel like there’s enough time. Do that thing. Read that book, go to that restaurant, see that movie. Do the things you never feel like you can do. There’s no time like the present.
Cheers, and I hope you have the best Christmas ever no matter where you find yourself.