Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Home Alone at Christmas: Survival Guide

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year—unless you're spending it alone (not by choice) or don't celebrate it. Then you're stuck with a world mostly shut down and seemingly nothing to do. It can also be lonely and depressing.  You can get through Christmas by making the choice to develop some rituals and routines of your own to not only survive but enjoy the  "festive season". Check out my Home Alone at Christmas Survival Guide.  
  1. Plan Ahead

·         Decide if you are going to go the whole hog and host your own Christmas Day Dinner (for one) with all the trimmings or down play the day and pretend it’s just like any other.  I prefer the first option myself but will give  you some tips on how to survive both choices.  I highly recommend you put together a basic timeline for the day - this not only ensures you don't end up missing a movie or lose any reservations you may have made but it also adds to the excitement.

·         Plan out the menu and purchase the ingredients. Why not try something new and exotic. If you're not confident putting a menu together, check out the Christmas menu plans collection. Here you'll find 30+ menus, most with time plans and tips, ready to roll.

·         If you don’t want to cook then think about making a booking at a local restaurant. Finding a Chinese restaurant that's open on Christmas doesn't take much work. A few phone calls should find you a meal pretty quickly. If you're in a larger city with a large cluster of Chinese restaurants (e.g. Chinatown), look in that area as well. Don't forget to make a reservation even if it's just dinner for you as popular restaurants sometimes receive so much business on Christmas day that they can't accommodate everyone.
·         The day before, find all the serving dishes, plates, cutlery, glasses and table linen and make sure they're clean and ready. 
·         Purchase any drinks including alcohol prior to the day
·         Ensure you make any other purchases including decorations, gifts, etc prior to the day.
·         Make any reservations at restaurants or theaters early on so you aren't disappointed. 

2. Deck the Halls
Christmas is a great time to spruce up the place and give your home a joyous feel – remember Christmas is about birth, renewal – peace on earth and joy to the world.  There are numerous sites on the internet that can help you out with ideas for decorating, not only the inside, but the outside of the house.  Some ideas are based on DYI and craft while others require a trip to the store.  

As you are hosting your own Christmas Party for One, I highly recommend you decorate the table.  

 3.  Start the Day with a Home Spar (Spoil Yourself)
Every woman likes and deserves to be pampered. So why not give yourself a treat by bring out your do-it-yourself spirit and treating yourself to a home spar.  Again there are lots of sites on the internet that can supply cost effective tips on creating a home spar. Check out these home beauty treatments at HuffingtonPost. 

4.  Dress the Part
There is a lot of fun in dressing for Christmas Day. Generally speaking the gift I’m most likely to buy myself at Christmas is something to wear on Christmas Day. What about you? I recommend that regardless of whether you intend to party at home or go out to a restaurant or movie you want to make the most of the opportunity to dress up for the day. Get out of those PJ”s and put on something  that makes you feel good about yourself.  

 5.  Prepare the Feast (Food and Drinks)
·         Put drinks in the fridge
·         Prepare the food - Follow the recipe
·         Set the table

6. Music Mystro
Christmas carolling is an easy way to get in the holiday spirit, whether you sing carols in your home or house to house. We have the Christmas lyrics to all your favourite holiday music, such as "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," "Deck the Halls," "Jingle Bells," "O Christmas Tree," and more. Learn the words to these Christmas carols and sing them while you decorate the table or play a Christmas Album while you have your meal. When it's time to sing, you'll never forget the words to all the classic Christmas songs with the printable (and free!) Christmas Carols list download, a cute mini book with lyrics to more than 25 holiday songs listed in alphabetical order at Better Homes and Gardens. 

7.  Take some Photos
All your efforts to make this a day to remember should not be lost simply because you are on your own.  Remember to crank up the camera battery or charge the phone or Ipad and get snapping.  Just about everyone is an expert at Selfies but if you’re not one of those (like me) then check out the hints at Shutterfly

Exposure Guide provides some tips for Christmas photography that can enhance your Christmas album by showing you how to photograph Christmas lights, trees etc.

 8.  Entertainment/Activities

·         For your entertainment, movies are the traditional choice. Several come out on Christmas day because theatres attract both people who celebrate the holiday and those that don't. Google Movies can quickly tell you what's playing in your area (as you probably already know), and FirstShowing can tell you what's going to be out on Christmas Day. If choosing this option check online and book ahead. Christmas at the movie theatre is very busy and you don't want to get stuck in the front row or behind someone who blocks your view. Regardless of assigned seats, however, you should still arrive a little early. People traffic and parking can make you late on a busy day.
·         If going out sounds like too much trouble, then why not buy or hire a DVD and kickback on the couch for the afternoon.
·         Settle back and get into a good read – this might mean a library visit or book shop purchase prior to the day unless like me you have a home library.
·         Other options include the following::
a)      Pretend to be a Tourist: Some tourist attractions stay open on Christmas, especially in larger cities. Check out online what’s on in your city over the Christmas period. Of course, many tourist attractions don't have to remain open for you to enjoy them. If you go check out a monument or historical landmark, they're around on Christmas and cost you nothing.
b)      Volunteer: Not having anything to do on Christmas isn't exactly a big life problem that needs solving. Other people have nowhere to go and nothing to eat. If you've got nothing to do, use that time to volunteer and help people who need it. Check your local homeless shelters and non-profit organizations for possibilities.
c)      Church: Check out the local paper or online for the church closest to you.  Every church will have a service at some time on Christmas Day and might even have a morning tea to share with new comers. 
d) Drop in on a NeighbourA combination of the ageing population and the fact families are dispersed across the country - and abroad for that matter - means it is not always easy to get together.Age UK estimates about 450,000 will be spending this Christmas alone. Perhaps you are not really alone after all - just look about your neighbourhood - there could be someone who would appreciate a  visitor. 
e) Host an Online Christmas: Do you have some online friends? Do you have long-distance relatives? Host an online Christmas by setting up a Skype chatroom or Facebook group. People can drop in and out as they please, and you don't have to cook, clean, or even get out of your pyjamas.
f) Gratitude - Take the time to appreciate what you do have in your life, be it good health, a place to live, or a job.

 9.  Go for a Walk
According to a new study from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, a 75kg (11st 11lbs) woman would need to walk 6.2km (nearly 4 miles) to burn up the calories found in a single 360 calorie mince pie.  If you do eat a large meal high in fat, the best thing to do for yourself and your arteries is to go for a 45 minute walk.  Even if you've put counting calories on the back burner during the holidays, you should still try to keep your health in mind.

Apart from the calorie burn walking has significant other health benefits.
  So put on the “tracky dacks” and runners and get outdoors Christmas and do a couple of laps around the block.  It will clear your head and heart.

10.   Reflect on the Reason for the Season (Meditate)

Christmas is a time of pausing and pondering, at least that is what it is meant to be. Christmas can be a feast of peaceful awe and joyful meditation. At the end of the day why not stop and consider the meaning Christmas has for you and your life.  A comprehensive scientific study  by researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered that yoga and meditation provide ''disease-fighting genes'' that protect from disorders such as pain, infertility, high blood pressure and even rheumatoid arthritis. The changes, say the researchers, were induced by what they call ''the relaxation effect'', a phenomenon that could be just as powerful as any medical drug but without the side effects.

My daily provides a short meditation to help distress at Christmas.

Reach Out
If you are feeling really down about being alone at Christmas and can't pull yourself out of it, reach out for help. Call a friend, family member, or a helpline. You don't need to be alone.  

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