• Few or No Friends

How To Get Over The Holidays With No Friends or Family

December 20, 2013 | By | 34 Replies Continue Reading
Blue Christmas

Blue Christmas

Feeling blue? No friends or family? Here are 14 ideas to buoy your spirits and get you over the holiday hump when you’re feeling down

The holiday season can be depressing if you are feeling alone or dispirited and everyone else seems joyous and happy. But like you, many others have no friends or family nearby, or feel disconnected or estranged from the people around them—or else I wouldn’t be writing this post!

Family ties, like friendships, are often imperfect. People tend to disappoint each other—especially under stress, and when expectations run as high as they do at this time of year. And what appears enviable on the outside may not be as appealing if you were able to peel off the layers and peek inside.

Keep things in perspective. The decorations will come down, stores will soon start preparing for President’s Day, and it will be back to business as usual before you know it. While no advice can take away pain, if you’re feeling down, I hope that at least one of these 14 crowd-sourced ideas will resonate with you and help you over the holiday hump:

1) Start a new project 

It can be something that can be done in a few hours (organizing that messy hall closet or cleaning an appliance), or maybe one that’ll take several months to complete, like slowly learning a new language online for free. See Duolingo.com) Whether or not you even finish the project, there’s no better feeling than the anticipation of starting something new that excites you.

2) Lighten your load

Get rid of things you don’t need that might be “gifts” to others. Gather clothes and household objects you no longer use or need and arrange for a pickup by an organization like Goodwill or Purple Heart. Giving and decluttering are both feel-good activities.

3) Have a song in your heart?

On Christmas or New Year’s Day, turn on a radio or other device to play seasonal music and then sing along as loud as you can. There’s no wrong way to sing a Christmas carol or Auld Lang Syne (or even Elvis’ Blue Christmas). You’ll be smiling before you know it!

4) Compose a gratitude list 

Aim for a gratitude list that includes at least ten things and share it with someone. You’ll get the double benefit: Realizing you have things to be grateful for and making someone else’s day when they receive your surprise note.

5) Plan a movie excursion

Take yourself out to the year’s Big Movie on Christmas or New Year’s Day. There are always new releases over the holidays and theaters tend to be less crowded. Don’t feel self-conscious about going by yourself. Just bring a magazine or e-reader to keep occupied before the movie starts. Once the movie is over, turn to the person next to you and make a positive remark. It’s nice to connect with someone over a shared experience.

6) Attend a Blue Christmas service 

For more than a decade, churches around the nation have been scheduling Blue Christmas services on the day with the least amount of light; this year, the winter solstice falls on Saturday, December 21. The services are often somber and ecumenical, using candles to acknowledge that many are experiencing pain, loneliness, or grief. You can google the term “Blue Christmas Services” to see if any are being held in your community.

7) Binge 

Is there a TV series that you’ve missed that everyone else is talking about: Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black? Figure out a way to get the series from Netflix or your cable provider and watch consecutive episodes over the course of several days. Doing so will also have the benefit of providing you with conversation fodder for connecting with people after the holidays.

8) Dig into a book 

You’re never alone when reading. Pick out a new book or a cherished favorite at your library or local bookstore. Brew a cup of your favorite beverage and set aside some hours to get lost in a good story. Here’s a compiled list of the Best of the Best Books of 2013. You can find the best books in your favorite genre just by Googling. I just started reading The Goldfinch. Weighing in at 784 pages, the gripping novel can keep someone engaged through the New Year.

9) Write it down 

Writing is a creative pastime, and it’s been said that everyone has a book in them. But if the thought of writing a whole book is too daunting, why not start with a poem? There are dozens of blogs and books about how to get started, including this easy “12 Ways to Write a Poem” from Oprah Magazine. There’s something nice about the freedom of a poem, and thinking in images and metaphors takes you away from you the blahs of a boring or lonely day. If you aren’t into poetry, take the time to write a thoughtful response to one of the reader posts on this blog.

10) Plan time in the kitchen

Have a yen for cooking? Browse through recipe books or recipes online, and stock up on the ingredients you need to prepare a favorite dish, dessert or meal. If you don’t like to cook, it’s a great day to go to a Chinese restaurant.

11) Get active 

Don’t feel like you need to be a prisoner in your own home. Get outside, take a walk and breathe the fresh air. Maybe you will be lucky enough to catch a few rays of sun. Brisk physical activity can buoy your spirits. If you like to ski, the slopes are often empty on Christmas morning.

12) Volunteer to help someone else

Check into opportunities in your community to help people who are worse off than you but don’t wait until the very last minute. Is there a shelter, soup kitchen or food pantry in your community that needs help over the holidays? Check with Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Union Gospel Mission, or with local religious organizations, police or fire departments.

13) Find someone else who will be alone, too. 

Craving company? Surely, there’s a colleague at work or neighbor who is likely to be spending time alone too. Perhaps you could plan to do something together. You can check out Meetup.com (searchable by zip code) to see if any other people are planning activities during the holidays.

14) More than down in the dumps? 

The holidays can be especially difficult if you are suffering from depression or getting over a loss. If you are really having a hard time, reach out for help. If you don’t want to burden people you know, a free 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) is available to people in crisis at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Calls are routed to local crisis centers. In the UK or Ireland, Samaritans offers confidential support at 08457 90 90 90. (More than 227,000 people called the Samaritans hotline last Christmas Day.)

And if you are lucky…

If you aren’t the one feeling blue over the holidays but know someone else who is likely to be feeling that way, be sensitive and don’t overdo the merriment and good cheer.

Figure out which friends, relatives, or neighbors you can help and what you can do. Sometimes even a “Hi, I’m thinking of you” phone call reminds someone they aren’t alone and are being thought about. It may be all they need to get over this holiday hump.

Wishing each of you all good wishes for the coming year!

Best, Irene

Special thanks to the crowd of people who helped me come up with all these great ideas: Laura Kelly, Sheryl Kraft, Susan Campbell, Lori Tripoli, Amy Feld, Jackie Humphries Smith, Angela Oddone, Andrea Marcusa, Linda Ligenza, Connie McLeod, Mindy Klapper Trotta, and Jane Gross

Do the holidays make you feel sad? Do you have any suggestions to add to this list?

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Category: Coping with loneliness, HAVING NO FRIENDS

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  1. Open your home for the holidays – Happy Orange Project | November 30, 2016
  1. wtaylor67 says:

    How do you make it through without family, loved one’s, no job, and the top it off, homeless??? I am having to fight every urge to not walk to the highway and insert myself in front of a semi.

    • Irene says:

      The holidays often lead to despair for many individuals—especially when some many things seem to be falling apart. However, there are some free and confidential counseling services that can help you take a first step towards turning things around.

      if you feel so despondent that you are thinking about giving up, contact a suicide hotline immediately.

      • A free 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) is available to people in crisis (or their loved ones) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Calls are routed to local crisis centers.

      • In the UK or Ireland, Samaritans offers confidential support at 08457 90 90 90.

    • K-mile says:

      wtaylor67, please don’t give up. It only seems so awful and it’s compounded between Thanksgiving & Christmas. Know that there are LOTS of others who are also down on luck with no family left. Friends are so important to those ofmus without family, but even if you have no friends you will have eventually if you just start one little, tiny step at a time. Find a shelter and ask for help so you will have a place to stay – it is TEMPORARY – if you need it go there! It will give you time to think and rest so you can start with little steps EVERY DAY toward getting back on your feet. You will see, you will meet new people and make friends. Little by little, and then down the line, one day you will look back and see things are better! Your bad situation is only temporary! You can pull up out of it but you have to be rested and have a clear head. Follow a path, little tiny steps, you will get there!!! And other people are pulling for you, who don’t even know you! Please try, only you can do it – and you CAN.

    • Danielle says:

      wtaylor67 the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has the highest rate of suicides, please don’t be one of them. I myself am alone and lonely, even though I have family they want nothing to do with me because of my Bipolar illness, so I am left alone all by myself. What keeps me going is knowing their are others out there going through the same thing as me, and I agree with the posting on here, where some one quoted, ” they wish all us lonely people could get together with one another to celebrate the holidays together”… please hang in there New Years is just around the corner, where you can drink off all the bad of 2016 and bring in 2017 with a great hangover….

  2. Nearly Neglected says:

    PS: I wish everyone could get together from this site and give love and kindness to eachother. I know after expressing myself to family members in vain why they are so wrong, so abusive and have no respect or boundaries…that there’s really no point when the men control everything and are programmed or mentally ill enough to not care…abuse is cyclical and it breaks my heart to see every woman in the family choose an abuser, and men who choose women to abuse or are abused by outside women that are their spouses. It’s disgusting to have someone lay into you and you them, and then they don’t stop calling to have you over their house to save their kids from suffering…yet these are the very same people who are secretly neglectful and hate on eachother unless an outsider is present…or they hate on one person and the rest follow suit because they have to for fear of their life, their sanity and to protect others…or sometimes just because they have themselves become like their abuser. I feel sick to my stomach as I write this. I feel tormented for not joining in holiday cheer and joy beacuse that is all of what I am…I’m the baker, the cook, the decorator, the singer of carols…the best freekin’ passionate and enthusiastic human being and they dont’ deserve me. They don’t respect my wishes and they fear their abusive spouses so they do what they want. I guess I have to imagine them as if they passed on and when I see them, that they are ghosts.

  3. Nearly Neglected says:

    Good list. Unfortunately, I cannot get myself to do any of them except for watch a movie, tv and treat myself to a decent lunch, which was marred by the server not returning correct change in hopes of a 24% tip.
    As they say these are first world problems, however I beg to differ. What is the point of having shelter, water, food, air, etc. when you have no one to share your love with? What is the point to having family that banishes you, turns you into the black sheep, abuses and disrespects you and then puts on fakery for others to make them think everything is great. Listen up people – if you feel for one moment that your family life is not healthy or good for your spirit and soul – leave as soon as you can when you are an adult. Don’t wait around or feel sorry or try to protect someone, even your parent or siblings…there is no shame in being self-preserving. I wish I had. I’m nearly 40 and still dealing with dysfunctional family and extended family that is in one word – disgusting. I sit here on yet another holiday and tell myself, I will never celebrate another holiday or birthday with any family ever again. It’s not worth it.

  4. t says:

    i hate my life-

    • AloneAgainOr says:

      Just wanted you to know that lots of others hate their lives too. You aren’t the only one, and yours may not even be as bad as some others (believe it or not). One way to look at it, if your life is truly horrible & miserable and you can find some small way to make it even a teeny tiny bit better, theres no where to go but up! Has to get better, right?! Anyway, try not to feel so bad. The future may be sooo much better if you just take it one step at a time…..I hope so anyway. Hugs to you too.

  5. anonymous lady says:

    I just don’t care no more. This is my 1st Christmas, truly being alone. My parents passed on long ago. I’m single, no kids. Most of my relatives are far away, & my sis, whom I’m very close with, is in jail. I have some friends, but they’re busy with their families. I bought a 24-pack of beer, & I’m gonna binge on it. If I survive, good. If not, oh well.

    • AloneAgainOr says:

      Don’t feel bad, don’t feel so alone. Tons of us are in the same (or worse) situation. It is just a depressing time of year, or sure can be if you don’t find other stuff to do, things you like to do, to not just think you are so alone. Lots , and I do mean LOTS of people are alone too. So you really ARENT alone, theres lots more of us. We should have a family-less group so we can post to each other when we feel down. Anyway, I hope I cheered you up some. Hug……

    • AloneAgainOr says:

      And enjoy your beer but dont overdo so that you have a terrible hangover the next day and waste even 1 more beautiful day in your life which I know can be great if you just try – and DONT GIVE UP! Dont give in!

  6. Carolyn Anetter says:

    Im wonder what everyone plan for christmas in Australia. I m alone and im deaf. Im not close my family. Im 53 year old.

    • kate says:

      I’m 42, not deaf, but have no-one in my life who understands the pain i’m in – nor cares. Everything for me is going wrong just now and I am so scared. My Dad recently died, my husband then told me he is having an affair and the woman is pregnant so he wants a divorce and now my Mum is selling our family home where I grew up and where the only stability I have left is. I have also been diagnosed with co-dependant disorder and need my Mum around me to reassure me all will be OK. She over parented me as a child and I never learned the coping skills to live/manage on my own. I have anxiety, depression and feel suicidal. Mum is moving into a retirement village and as I am on the disability pension for my debilitating mental health issues, I cannot afford a place of my own as I have two dogs that I love to death but cannot take care of properly while I am trying to deal with this inner despair and my Mother seems not to care or want to help. I know so many of you out there will be saying “get over yourself, toughen up princess” but I promise everyone that if I could toughen up or get over this scariest of times, I would. I don’t want to be like this. I don’t want to be weak. I wish I had brothers and sisters or just SOMEONE (including my Mother) who could just put their arms around me and tell me everything will be O.K. We all have different levels of coping ability and mine isn’t good. I wan’t to work with psychologists/psychiatrists etc intensely and learn how to cope with my excessive emotions in a healthy way, get a healthier self esteem and learn how to self soothe so that I can, in time, achieve the carefree independence everyone who has it takes for granted. Christmas for me this year is going to be particularly hard. No Husband, no festivities and reminders galore on what could have been in every single store and on every little child’s face. I have come to believe not everyone is suited for this world. Selfish hey? I was that one tadpole out of however many million to swim the fastest and become the child my parents so dearly wished for. Why though I ask? Why did I make it when life itself hurts me deep inside every single day. Where I would gladly swap my life with any of the people you hear about with terminal illness’ whose passing seems so wrong..They are too young, too loved, doing too much groundbreaking, lifesaving work in their medical fields?. Mothers who have children that shouldn’t be left Motherless and ditto for the Fathers. I don’t even have the balls to off myself as I can’t cope with pain and fear of the unknown. Stupid isn’t it. Again, I know I am selfish to say all of this. But I swear I would swap my life with anyone doing it harder, born into a rougher existence but I cannot. I am a freak. I have some personality flaw that doesn’t see me make friends easily as maybe its my anxiety that causes me to say stupid things and put people off. Maybe its my current negativity? People love you when life is going great but avoid you like the plague when you most need their help. Before I hit this crap period that has plagued me now for the past 18 months, I was not aware of the pain a person can be in. Mind you, I have always been someone who cares for those who have been abandoned, those who have no support, those who need rescuing. Both people and animals, I feel for those who have been cast aside,who have no-one.
      Now I wonder if I was/am like this because of a fear of this happening to me. Well it has. Yet the world around me seems to have changed. Its every man for him/her self now. Even my Mother has chosen this retirement village over staying with me for 1 year so I can learn to cope, rid myself of this overpowering fear, and be able to live on my own contentedly. All I can do is pray. Maybe salvation will come in time. Pray for me if you read this. I thank you so much if you do.

      • Irene says:

        Dear Kate

        So sorry to hear of all your difficulties that are compounded with mental health problems. As much as I and other posters here would like to help, you really need to find out about resources in your own community to help you cope.

        Please don’t give up. Of course, if you feel so despondent that you are thinking about giving up, contact a suicide hotline immediately.

        • A free 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) is available to people in crisis (or their loved ones) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Calls are routed to local crisis centers.
        • In the UK or Ireland, Samaritans offers confidential support at 08457 90 90 90.

        Best wishes, Irene

      • carol says:

        I don’t know where you live but i’d be there in a flash!

      • Haley says:

        I think you are really brave. Hearing you talk so honestly about your life has given me courage to face my own. sometimes. it just sucks

  7. Laura says:

    The holidays are over by now, But I have a major issue similar to another ladies comment I am a 26 Year old female, I don’t have any friends or any family that visits or has anything to do with me and I am pretty much alone, My partner works all day and I do as well in a job that is very demanding, I cook,clean,laundry and everything else and my partner does nothing but play on the Xbox. I have tried everything to talk to him and tell him what he is doing and it seems
    ineffective I have also started to consider taking anti-depressants and getting help from therapy because I have noticed that I too am becoming very down and out and even thinking of escaping to somewhere else… If I do mention how I feel and try to express myself he becomes angry and very dismiss-ant and threatens to leave or tells me I am inane or wrong, He even expects me to cook and clean all the time and when I try to even suggest making food for himself its not good enough. I am becoming very tired of doing everything and I feel like his maid rather than someone he loves. I know I possibly sound like I am ranting,but I feel the need to let of some steam. The only people he speaks to is his friend that comes over and I feel very pushed out of the living room ….I don’t even get to watch any TV …because its the Xbox that’s taken control So instead I sit upstairs in our room on the laptop looking for help or playing on Second-life as I literally have no-one to speak to ! …Is there anything you can suggest, I have seen the previous good ideas and would like to know if there’s anywhere I can get help or advice or even anyone else like me.

    • jacqueline says:

      Dear Laura:

      My heart goes out to you. There is more to life than what you are living, and you are so young to feel this way.

      You need to seek professional help asap. Is there a family physician or priest/rabbi you can go to?

      Here are the links Irene posted in the first part of this thread:

      If you are really having a hard time, reach out for help. If you don’t want to burden people you know, a free 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) is available to people in crisis at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

      It doesn’t sound as if you have much of a marriage. There is no communication, affection, etc. Have you been married long? Is the marriage worth saving and perhaps going to couples therapy?

      Is it possible for you to leave and find another apartment? This is not a healthy environment for you. Do you live far from your family and friends? Could you not stay temporarily with one of them?

    • Amy F says:

      Considering therapy is a sign of strength, because it shows that you care enough about yourself to make an investment in changing your life. Getting therapy was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
      I strongly believe that in order to attract healthy friends, we first have to be good friends to ourselves, so therapy will help teach you how to do that better.
      One question that jumped out at me is for you to ask yourself why your partner is your partner. What do you love about him? How does he show you he loves and respects you. How does he show you his special you are? Actions speak louder than words. Even if he makes more money than you, the term partner connotes shared responsibility mutual love and respect.
      I’m confident finding friends will be easier once you’re in a better emotional place. Finding healthy friends when depressed and when you have a difficult home life is like trying to catch a rainbow in your hands.

    • Laura says:

      Dear Jacqueline and Amy F
      Thank-you for your comment it is really appreciated. I do have some family but they are very far away from myself.I have been doing a little better since my last comment,As I have been socialising at work a little more and interacting which is a blessing. As for my partner he is well still the same as usual… I have spoken to him and told him how I have been feeling and I am considering therapy and he did not get mad which was a blessing in disguise.The problem is that I love him very much so and I have been loyal to him for 5 years which is a feat for most young couples.I have also had some help and support from his mother and she suggested and a family intervention which I hope helps. thank-you for your kind support I truly am greatful

    • becky says:

      Hi I no how you feel hun I feel same way I have a partner and 3 kids but I still feel isolated and lonely all the time fed up of sitting in the house constantly and not seeing people or having any company everyday is a struggle feeling this way I need help and support but don’t no where to turn.

  8. Laura says:

    Great, practical suggestions! You do so much to help so many, Irene!

  9. Harlie says:

    Idk where I can put this but I do have a husband and I’m pregnant. The thing is I have some issues like depression and anxiety. My family says I’m demonic and crap and thats why I’m depressed and all my husband does is play Xbox. He is the only one with a liscence so I can’t go out ever because he never wants to do anything but play games. We only have one TV that he uses for games. My pregnancy symptoms are so bad that I can hardly do anything. I have to walk to do laundry but I’m on bed rest and he only plays Xbox. I haven’t been able to shower in days because I can’t wash clothes on my own right now and he won’t so we have no towels. I have no other friends. The one I did have either call me demonic for my depression. Or they don’t want to talk to me anymore. Idk what I did. Iv been alone or with people who made me feel alone since I was 4. How do I cope and who can I talk to. Can’t go to therapy because my husband will have to get off of Xbox to bring me… :'(

  10. Juleen Killion says:

    I so get it. I know I am not the only one. It has been my whole life. I realized when I was like 12 and in Foster homes, stuff means nothing. I always dreamed of a real family. People who love you unconditionally. I have learned to just accept it. Yes, it sucks, and seems unfair. What is fair? NOTHING. I am now 50. In 2011, September I found my husband dead…2 months to the day, my mom died suddenly. 2 and a half months later I was almost killed in a car crash. Yes, going through all of it alone is crappy. But, it’s all I know. I hate hearing therapist, etc say, oh, your so strong…I know they mean well. What choice do you have. I will be very disabled the rest of my time on earth. I am bitter at times. I have no friends or family. I live in a little apartment with my little dog. I spent my birthday, the 24th, doing random acts for other people. Go through a drive thru, pay for the car behind you. Tell the lady at the window, just tell them I said Happy Holidays.It is good to feel you have done something for someone, they don’t know who you are. That is the only thing that makes me feel any better or makes me smile. I have done it before. I live on disability. It doesn’t cost much. I have been alone for years. I gave up on the friend thing. I think it’s best just to be alone. I don’t like disappointment, and I don’t like to disappoint. You know what is good for you and what works the best for you. I thought yesterday, it’s not that I quit, it’s like, I tried the best I could. I can’t lie, I can’t fake it, it’s not worth it. I didn’t need a brick to fall on my head. After my wreck, I was in the hospital for months. Unfortunately it was on the news. People showed up, it was bitter sweet. In my heart and mind, I was like why are you here? Get the hell out!! I wanted real people who were there for me and cared about me and not because I was on the news. Everyone is different. That is how I felt. Even though I knew she wouldn’t come, my thought was I wish I could have just heard my mothers voice. I was still on auto pilot I guess. I think I still am. Try to get through the season folks. You are not alone, I know it feels like it. Other people are going through it to. Just remember as the season is about being with family and friends, etc, try to remember the reason their is a season. I gave up asking why does all this keep happening a long time ago. In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter why. That isn’t going to erase what has happened. I catch myself once in awhile thinking about it, I remind myself, I guess it’s not for me to know. It still sucks the same. It is what it is.

    • AloneAgainOr says:

      Oh, I’m so sorry for you. I am just reading this in 2015 and I see it was written in 2014, but maybe you will still see this response. I really felt your pain and resignation in that post. I hope you know that there are others out here who feel the same way and in some strange way that makes you not alone after all. My wish tonight is that you, and all other beautiful people who are alone without family will have lots of moments in their future where they feel loved and give love again, or even for the first time if they’ve never had anyone. Big hugs for all those needlessly broken hearts….

  11. denise says:

    Thank you for such a great site its helpful uplifting and encouraging. Its greatly appreciated.

  12. sunday roberts says:

    yes isee what you are saying but im always being left out of my f=family life. i have two growen children and eight Grandkids and 3 great grand kids. here i am sitting all by myself all day. no one even came. My heart is breaking and this goes on all the time. i have done everything for my kids but something has to be wrong with me why they just leave me lone all the time. i just don,t understand, they say they adore me but words are only words and i just don,t get it.

    • hap again says:

      My children are just the same. This year they were told my me that something wrong because never expected the to be like this will see what happen next year

  13. jacqueline says:

    This is a perfect time to thank-you, Irene, for all the help you give to so many with this website.

    I have learned a lot from you and the people who post here. Bless you all!

  14. This is really a great list ( I’d never even heard of Blue Christmas services!) and also very helpful for ex-pats like me who find themselves away from home and family during the holidays.

  15. Carol says:

    Wishing everyone a way to enjoy this time of the year in your own way. I have a couple who have a wonderful dog. He and I are best buds and I take care of him when they go visit their family members. He doesn’t like to travel, so he and I stay home, go for walks, eat munchies and chase squirrels around the trees (here in California). However, there is frost on the trees this morning. So visiting the lonely animals in shelters can be a way to cheer them up and you too. Besides seeing people I love, seeing the dog I love most makes my holiday season great! Thanks for all the great suggestions Irene and gang.

    Joyfully, Carol

  16. Sheryl says:

    Excellent list! I hope no one has to feel alone on the holidays.

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