How to be single at Christmas

I find myself wanting to write something about being single at Christmas. After all, I’ve got some experience to draw on. There was a time when I used to find being on my own at Christmas a tricky thing to think about, but these days its one of the times of the year when I genuinely think I can be thankful for my single status and would prefer to sit down to a nice Christmas dinner on my own than to be a guest any number of other people’s tables.

Here’s a bit of what I’ve been learning.

If you like being with others on Christmas Day and others invite you to join in then go for it. However, decide some time before the big day what you want to do and stick to it. If you don’t want to be with others then make your mind up to resist all invitations. Don’t be frightened of saying to people that you like your Christmas and you wouldn’t want to miss out on it. They will look at you in awe and wonder. They may tell you that you are brave. Smile in a knowing kind of way and murmur, “No, I’m vulnerable too sometimes” and this will confirm them in their view that you are more valiant than Braveheart or the Bruce.

Being on your own at Christmas is one of those things that can seem daunting. However, if you make it through and enjoy it, think how pleased you’ll be. Remember the first time you went to see a film on your own, or sat down in a restaurant on your own and got a kick out of it? (Not achieved this yet? – stay tuned and I may write about it in the new year).

If you don’t want to be on your own, but find that you will be, do some planning before the day. You might like to volunteer to help other people out. You might opt to work if your place of employment offers work on Christmas Day. Otherwise, make some choices and decide to do something that reflects what you would most like to do if given the gift of a bit of time to yourself.

I work a lot over Christmas doing what I love – celebrating in sign and symbol and razzmatazz the good news that God is come into the world. If you’ve never gone to church much at Christmas, don’t be shy. There isn’t a congregation the length or breadth of the country worth its salt that wouldn’t welcome you in to whatever they do. Cathedrals offer lots of special things at this time of the year and are very used to people coming on their own. One of the reasons that Cathedral congregations are perceived to be doing relatively well at the moment is that single people are welcome through the year. Its a place where it ain’t odd to come on your own and you can choose whether to scoot out of the door the moment the organ plays at the end or hang around and chat afterwards. Safe topics of conversation are – the weather, the music and how glamorous the Provost looked in that cope. If you really want to blend in, seek out some of the servers and ask them to show you some thurible tricks in a quiet corner.

When it comes to spending Christmas Day on my own, I tend to make sure that I’ve got good food in. I also am apt to buy a couple of treats in case I want entertainment – a DVD of an obscure film that no-one else would want to see, a salacious book (other than the Bible) and a pot of Waitrose custard are all it takes to make me sure that I’ll be OK these days. Nice magazines and mud-based face-packs for a sneaky spa afternoon are optional but highly desirable.

Be assured that you don’t have to play by anyone else’s expectations. If you want pea and ham risotto rather than roast a whole turkey for yourself, who is to stop you? And risotto is such comfort food at this time of the year. But stir it slow now,  stir it slow.

Decorate as much or as little as you like. I tend to like a minimalist Chirstmas with trees firmly in place and decorated at church but not at home. However I knew someone once who did out his whole house in pink feather boas and twinkling lights just to celebrate the birth of the Bethlehem babe.

In all your planning, remember the golden rule of coping at Christmas on your own: It is your choice.

Make it.


  1. Tracey says

    Some great advice there! Until last year, my favourite ever Christmas was the one where I decided to spend it on my own (telling a couple of white lies along the way, to save people’s hurt feelings, I’m afraid!). I barbecued a magnificent steak in the back garden, watched The Good Life Christmas special and EastEnders, then went for a motorbike ride and marvelled at the beauty and stillness around me. Happy Christmas!

  2. Great post Kelvin. Another advantage of being single at Christmas is that one can watch Bridget Jones unironically. And not suffer any family pressure to pull crackers or watch Doctor Who (I always wonder why, given all the time-travel-and-famous-authors stories they do, there was never one with Henry James and the doctor’s nemesis, replete with ‘I’m the Master!’ ‘No, *I’m* the Master!” “I wrote The Portrait of a Lady!” “I’m a timelord!” etc dialogue. Stuff writes itself ;-))

    Pink feather boas for Christmas decoration sounds like a direction the Church should be exploring too! 😉

  3. My brother always spends Christmas day on his own through choice and wouldn’t have it any other way – he is not miserable but likes it his way. In complete contrast I am Crimbo OTT and think it slightly odd that we are cut from the same cloth!

  4. Hermano David |Brother Dah•veed says

    It is a bit hard not to be “family” all day when my older sister and brother-in-law, my cousin and his wife, the cousins who work in our security detail and I all own apartments on the same floor, but thankfully we do Christmas all together Christmas Eve, Noche Buena in Spanish. And none of us are going home to our village this year because we have deemed it too obvious and so too dangerous with what has been happening here on the federal highways.

    But I have two roomies and a nephew who are here, so I am preparing simple cold food tomorrow that we can snack at whenever we want Christmas Day; sliced, smoked pork loin with a chipotle and cranberry salsa, cold baked beans, two potato salad, a fresh fruit salad, assorted crackers & cheese and buttery croissants. (The two potato salad is any regular picnic potato salad recipe that you like, but substitute half the potatoes with sweet potatoes.)

    ¡Feliz Navidad!

  5. Envy.

  6. Zebadee says

    Thank you. This was very helpful

  7. Very insightful Kelvin, and the responses (thank you all)

    There are times when I find being at big get-togethers difficult. Maybe that is why I like doing the back-room type things at big occasions – like ensuring the Provost has the right cope (usually the Cope of Glory) and it is sitting tidily on his shoulders, and that the cope is exchanged for a chasuble at the appropriate point in the service (and back again).

  8. Hermando David — blessing this Christmas. You remind us once again of what we take for granted. I hope that you all stay safe and well.

  9. Thought-provoking as ever Kelvin. Some day we’ll make it to hear you in person at St Mary’s! Until then…take care and every good wish for the coming year!

  10. It is not the prospect of spending Christmas alone that I find difficult or scary. It’s managing the family expectations that we have to be together at Christmas, because that’s what we do (as it was in the beginning and shall be for ever, Amen). The bad weather this year meant that there was a good reason for not travelling, so I was able to spend Christmas where I wanted to be. And lovely it was too.


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