Life seems so busy most of the time especially when you have children because there is so much to do. Sometimes we forget to slow down and just enjoy our children while they are still young. It seems that there will be plenty of time to slow down and spend more time with them later and then suddenly they are grown and have gone off to college or moved out and found a job and started their own lives. We spend all our lives trying to make sure our children have everything they need and the holidays are where we parents really shine. The Christmas holiday rolls around once a year and we want our kids to be happy and have plenty of “toys.” To that end, we spend hours shopping for the perfect gifts, wrapping them, decorating the tree, baking cookies and making fudge and then on Christmas day we have our reward, happy kids.
But what happens that first Christmas without the kids, the one where the kids are teenagers and don’t want to spend Christmas with their parents because they got a better offer from their friend whose family has a cabin in the mountains or a condo at the beach? Or perhaps the kids have gone to college and it’s their first Christmas away from home but they don’t want to come home for it? What do parents do to celebrate Christmas then? How do parents handle having an empty nest for the first time? I have put together a list of ten ideas for parents who are faced with an empty nest and what they can do to celebrate Christmas without the kids.
Celebrating Christmas Without the Kids, Empty Nest Idea #1: Get together with other family members
Just because the kids aren’t coming home for Christmas doesn’t mean that you have to avoid the rest of your extended family. By all means, talk to them, see if they have room for you to come over and spend Christmas day with them and their children. You won’t feel so alone because you’ll still be surrounded by family.
Celebrating Christmas Without the Kids, Empty Nest Idea #2: Get together with friends
If you have no extended family to spend time with on Christmas, look to your friends. Don’t be shy or afraid to admit that you are going to be alone on Christmas, tell your friends. And if they are true friends, they will immediately invite you to spend Christmas with them. If they don’t invite you, don’t assume that they don’t want you either, they might just be afraid to ask you over because they are trying to be considerate of your feelings. So ASK THEM if you can come over for Christmas. If they have other plans and won’t be home, then no one has to have hurt feelings.
Celebrating Christmas Without the Kids, Empty Nest Idea #3: Group get-togethers
Are you a member of any groups or clubs? There are groups or clubs that focus on either single people or older adults whose children are grown and out of the home and often they will host some sort of get-together for group members who will be alone for the holidays. It’s one way of not being alone but being with other people who are in the same or similar situation that you are, celebrating Christmas without the kids.
Celebrating Christmas Without the Kids, Empty Nest Idea #4: Volunteer at a local homeless shelter
There are many organizations that can use your help on Christmas day. They need help preparing food and then serving Christmas dinner or possibly handing out gifts at a local children’s shelter or hospital. You can find organizations that need your help by contacting your local volunteer organization or contacting your church office. You could visit a local nursing home and visit the elderly patients who have no family. Talk to the nurse/patient liaison ahead of time and find out who would be the most likely candidates to visit and see if there’s something you can bring. Sometimes they will even allow you to join the patient for lunch or dinner. There is always someone who will need you on Christmas day.
Celebrating Christmas Without the Kids, Empty Nest Idea #5: Go to Church
Many churches have Christmas Eve services and some of them are held late at night. You can attend church services and sleep in on Christmas day. Or if your church will have services on Christmas day itself, you can attend those. Often the newspaper will list the churches that will be having Christmas services in their special local happenings section. And if they don’t, you can look it up online.
Celebrating Christmas Without the Kids, Empty Nest Idea #6: Have a Christmas Eve Party
How about hosting a Christmas Eve party for everyone you know? You can hold it on Christmas Eve since most people will be with their families on Christmas day. Keep it an informal open house party with no set time to start or end. Have a buffet out, perhaps fruit and vegetable platters and Christmas cookies and tell everyone to just drop in whenever they can. By the time the party is completely over for the night, you will be glad you have the next day to clean up and recuperate.
Celebrating Christmas Without the Kids, Empty Nest Idea #7: Go out to eat
It’s true that there are not many restaurants that are open on Christmas day but there will be some open. You can find out about the restaurants that will be open on Christmas ahead of time by calling around, asking around, reading in the newspaper advertisements, or looking it up online. Generally you will need to make reservations so don’t forget to check into the different restaurants policies.
Celebrating Christmas Without the Kids, Empty Nest Idea #8: Stay home
Stay home and fix yourself a nice meal. Cook yourself something that you might not ordinarily have because of price or the difficulty in preparing it and make yourself a special Christmas meal. Just because it’s Christmas, you do not have to have turkey, ham, roast or whatever traditional family meal you generally have. Have a filet mignon or a halibut fillet but whatever you do have, make it special. Use the good china and the tablecloth, dress up in your Christmas outfit. Take a long soothing bath, clip your nails, and shave your legs, whatever it takes to pamper yourself so you will feel special. Then get out the digital camera and take pictures of yourself. Just make sure that your alone time is pleasant and enjoyable.
Celebrating Christmas Without the Kids, Empty Nest Idea #9: Go on a trip
A trip to the beach or to the mountains can be fun for the Christmas holiday. Make your reservations ahead of time so you can be guaranteed a room and go. You might even consider going on a Christmas cruise. You can find out about Christmas cruises by looking it up online. There are quite a few Christmas holiday cruises to choose from. A website that lists Christmas vacation packages is Christmas Carnivals.com. You might even consider visiting a theme park such as Disneyland or Disney World for Christmas. They can be a lot of fun without kids.
Celebrating Christmas Without the Kids, Empty Nest Idea #10: Go to a movie
Movie theaters are open on the holidays and sometimes new movies are even released on Christmas day. If you want to avoid being completely alone at home, you can always go see a movie at the theater or perhaps even two movies.
Having an empty nest can be very stressful and emotionally painful so whatever you do decide to do in celebrating Christmas without the kids, take care of yourself. You deserve a good Christmas too and it isn’t selfish if you get yourself a special present, perhaps something you’ve put off because of the children. You’ve reached the time in your life where you finally get to concentrate on YOU.