In the past, I’ve written about the difficulties of the Christmas season for single people (see When You’re Tired of the Waiting this Christmas and When Part of Your Heart Feels Dark this Christmas). Those moments will probably never go away while we’re single because the ache and longing to have our own families during the holidays is a real thing. It is good to quietly acknowledge them, weep a bit, and give those tears to the Lord who understands loneliness better than anyone else.
However, I’ve also learned that the Lord doesn’t want me to waste my single years only sitting around being sad. He wants me to serve those around me and spread the hope and joy that I have in Christ. He wants me to be purposeful with my days and intentional with my gifts. And when I lose myself in serving others and loving them well, it helps soothe the ache of loneliness and shifts the focus away from my own hurt.
Additionally, I’ve learned that you don’t have to wait to have a husband and kids to make traditions. I’ve always loved traditions, and I love celebrating them every year. If I get married someday, I may bring those traditions with me as well as formulate new traditions with my own family. If I don’t get married, I will continue to practice traditions that bring joy to myself and others.
If you could use a little inspiration for yourself with creating some new traditions this year or next, here are some of my favorite holiday traditions as a single person.
1) Buy Decorations and Have Fun Decorating
Sometimes it feels like decorating for Christmas is only a “family” thing—or if you end up going back to your parents’ house for Christmas, you think, “What’s the point in having my own Christmas tree?” But decorations bring so much joy, and I firmly believe in them. Each year, I’ve added a few more to my stash, and I love pulling them out each year. I especially love my collection of tree ornaments that hold memories from the people who have given them to me over the years.
You could even invite a couple friends over to help you decorate while you listen to Christmas music and then watch a favorite movie or TV show together afterward. Create community however you can by drawing others into your creation of these traditions.
2) Send Christmas Cards
Sometimes there’s nothing that makes you feel more single at Christmas time than opening card after card of happy, smiling families. But guess what? You have people in your life whom you love and do life with. You also have had a full, busy year that you want to tell others about. And now that Christmas card designs allow for little collages, you can put multiple pictures of your year’s experiences without feeling awkward about a picture of just you (although there’s truly nothing wrong with that).
I enjoy giving out Christmas cards simply because it’s a connection point with people that I love. Many people that I know enjoy receiving them in the mail or at church, and it’s a way to encourage others and bring them a little Christmas cheer. You could also include a little newsletter to share what God has done in your life this past year and how he’s encouraging you—another way of outreach to those around you.
3) Celebrate Advent Sundays
While I do have an Advent wreath now, even when I didn’t, I loved the tradition of lighting candles each Advent Sunday and doing Scripture and devotional readings. Pausing to reflect on a different aspect of the Nativity story each Sunday has brought peace to my heart in the midst of busyness. It also helps when I feel sad or overwhelmed to remember the reason Christ came as an infant—to experience the weight of being human and empathize with me in the midst of my struggles.
There are so many Advent readings and devotionals out there to help with this tradition. I love Ann Voskamp’s book The Greatest Gift, but there’s also this downloadable Advent journal from Every Moment Holy and The Rabbit Room.
4) Create Traditions Based on What You Love
I really love wrapping presents elegantly and The Office. So, every year, I pull out my ribbons and bows and paper and wrap all my presents while watching every Christmas episode of The Office. You may want to go see Handel’s Messiah or The Nutcracker every year. You might want to host a gingerbread decorating party or a baking day with friends. You might organize an ice skating, sledding, or skiing party with friends. You may love caroling, so get a group of people to go around neighborhoods and sing a few Christmas carols.
Make your traditions your own, invite others into them, and see how you (and them) will come to look forward to them every year.
5) Host a Christmas or New Year’s Eve Party
There may already be too many parties in your life that you have to attend. Or you might have a friend who’s established in hosting the party every year. But if you don’t, maybe you’re the one to host it this year. I’ve found in hosting my Christmas party each year not to expect everyone to come because of the busyness of the holiday. But I’ve discovered that the people who need to be there come each year, and we have the best time together. People long for connection during the holiday season, and there may be others in your sphere who don’t have a lot of friends or family to do that with. Create space for that to happen, and you’ll be filling your own heart as well as others’.
Traditions and activities alone will not replace the ache that we feel sometimes during the holiday season. And there are times when we can get so busy that we crash and burn or forget the real reason for Christmas. But sometimes a few traditions can help us not feel so lonely. And sometimes, they’re just plain fun. Seek joy in Christ first and foremost. Then let that joy bubble over into celebrations with the ones you love. You may find yourself starting to look forward to the holidays instead of dreading them.