How to cope if you’re separated from family this Christmas

Usually around this time of year, we would be rushing around the shops picking up those last minute presents which were down the bottom of our list. We would be meeting up for drinks with friends, and debating what we were all going to be wearing to our office parties. There would be carol services and school nativities to attend, and plenty of mince pies and gingerbread cookies to scoff.

This year though, things are going to be a bit different for us all, in more ways than one. So many of us have had to sacrifice so much already this year, whether it be cancelling your wedding or not being able to attend a loved one’s funeral. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing pandemic, a lot of us are going to be unable to spend Christmas Day with family, opting for more of a pared back celebration with just our own household, or for some, you may even be spending Christmas completely by yourself for the first time.

The thought of being alone at Christmas or separated from the majority of your close family can feel pretty isolating, but that doesn’t mean that Christmas Day has to be sad and depressing. After all, alone doesn’t have to mean lonely.

That’s why we’ve come up with a list of ideas to help you make the most out of the festive season, no matter who you’re spending it with.

Get back to nature

There’s no denying that a healthy dose of fresh air can do you the world of good. Obviously this advice depends on where you’re from and what the Covid-19 restrictions are like in your area, but if possible we highly recommend donning your favourite workout clothes (including layers, it is winter after all) and getting outside for a nice scenic hike. You could even plug in your earphones and listen to your favourite podcast or audio book along the way. Not only will the fresh air make you feel rejuvenated and refreshed, the endorphins from exercising will give your mood such a feel-good boost.

Have a family cook-along

Being separated from your loved ones this Christmas might mean missing out on some of your favourite nostalgic foods, like your aunt’s famous sausage and sage stuffing or your Granny’s iconic Christmas pudding recipe. That’s why we encourage you to host a family cook-along, whereby everyone gets all of the ingredients in, and cooks the meal together over Zoom, with the recipe maker teaching everyone what to do. While there most certainly will be technical difficulties, and somebody will undoubtedly forget to mute themselves when the frustration strikes, that’s the fun of it. At least you’ll all be together in some sense.


If you’re going to be spending Christmas Day all by yourself this year, and are stuck for ideas with what to do with yourself, then why not try volunteering for a charity? Giving back to those who need a little bit of help during the holidays is not only a really worthwhile, good thing to do for your community, but it can also feel really rewarding, and might even cheer you up. 

Take a moment to remember those you’ve lost

Perhaps this Christmas is especially difficult because you’ve lost a family member this year. The first Christmas after a loved one passes away is always pretty hard, but we imagine this year it might be even more challenging. Instead of trying to make it through the day without crying or acknowledging your pain, try to do something to honour them, like watching their favourite film, or playing their favourite song. You could go around the table with those in your household, or with other family members over Zoom, and tell stories of happy memories about those we’ve lost. Turn it into a day of remembrance instead of a day of grief.

Have a duvet day

You know all of those shows you’ve been meaning to watch but never had the time? Well, now’s your chance! Put on your cosy Christmas PJs, pour yourself a cup of hot chocolate, plant yourself on the couch and binge-watch TV to your heart’s content. Do whatever is going to make you happy — if re-watching Gilmore Girls for the hundredth time makes you happy, then go with it. If marathoning all eight Harry Potter films brings you joy, then you have our full support. You do you.