I'm going to let you in on something a little personal: My husband and I don't do the December holidays with our families. Don't get me wrong—seeing our siblings and parents is always a joy at other times of the year—but ever since we hitched our wagons to each other, we inadvertently set a mandate that Christmas and Hannukah (yes, we celebrate both), were for our own small unit. No traveling, no large dinners, nothing but exactly what we want to do, as long as it's with (or near) each other.
Perhaps this feels a little out of grasp if your family is nearby, or if you always go home, or you have kids, and that is completely valid—but maybe it's been a long year (we all know 2016 has), or mediation and mindfulness is what you want, or you've got an empty city to take advantage of, or you just don't have the funds (to be honest, that's how it started for us).
Not being with family around this time of year can be a bummer, but it can also be a moment to yourself—to do exactly what you want, no matter if it's below freezing and snowy. If you find yourself alone or with just your SO for the holidays this year, here are 23 things to take advantage of when no one else is in town.
Go to the movies! Twice! In one day! (And maybe have a whole theater to yourself.) Here's what's playing across the U.S. now.
Take a tour at a historic home—this is a good database for ones near you.
Go on a self-guided walk of local landmarks to be more in tune with your surroundings. The best way to find options in your city are to Google "self-guided walking tours" plus the name of where you live.
This one's a gimme, but seriously—it's time to plow through your stack of books or that backlog of magazines. If you're looking for something new to read, NPR's Book Concierge let's you filter through 300 titles their staff loved this year.
Hit museums for a dose of culture, reality, or serenity, or a combination of all three. Find a museum near you by using the American Alliance of Museums database.
Bake something challenging and then serve it up fancy just for yourself and maybe your person.
If there's a karaoke spot in town that lets you sing at the bar and doesn't require an expensive room, you know what to do. (I, as an extremely self-concious person in public, have done this and it is liberating.)
Bowling is a good group option, yes, but an even better one as a twosome or smaller. You can play more games, work on your form, and drink beer without just sitting at a bar.
Involving food and drink
Drink some bubbly at a hotel bar on Christmas Eve. Feel fancy, probably enjoy some live music, people watch.
Snag hard-to-acquire reservations while everyone's clocking in family time, either at a new, trendy restaurant or one you've always dreamed of going to.
Head to a leisurely brunch on the weekday—without a colossal wait or more expensive drinks.
If you've got more time off, visit your friends at their offices and bring lunch for two. (Our co-founder Amanda packs lunch for her twins regularly, and they're good inspiration for even adult midday meals.)
But if you're the one at the office, go out to lunch during the work week (and drink a covert beer while you're at it).
Get moving (since there's no one to entertain)
On the one random, warm-ish day, seek out a basketball court, soccer pitch, or baseball field and shoot hoops, go head-to-head, or join in on pick-up game that's probably happening.
If you happen to live in a location that has good public transportion, take a bus, the train, or subway somewhere in town that's far from where you live and you've been meaning to go, either for a local restaurant, a park, a beach, a brewery, or to just walk around a new place.
Wherever you go, go somewhere in your pajamas.
Strategies for self-betterment
Grab a cart at the grocery store at a regular time instead of at the crack of dawn (or after dark) to avoid lines.
Attend usually maddeningly-crowded workout classes that will be empty with everyone's travel schedules and familial obligations. Start your resolutions a little early this year!
Throw down some old fitted sheets and paint your walls a different color for the new year. (Perhaps green?)
Volunteer at your favorite local organization, or, even better, one that's really in need of help. Whether it's before the holidays for collecting presents or feeding the homeless on the day of, it'll make a difference in your community, wherever that may be.
Every day, commit to doing one thing you've been putting off. For me, it'll be the likes of recommitting to reading physical books, practicing self-care, and finally starting to bake my own bread. Now you go.
What would you—or will you—be doing over the holidays while everyone's away? Tell us in the comments below.