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What to do when you can't go home for Christmas

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In case you missed the memo: Christmas is well and truly coming, and it won’t be long before your flatmates start packing up what’s left of their festive booze, don their most garish jumpers and head off to celebrate December 25th with their nearest and dearest.

But what if you don’t have that nest to fly back to this year? Whether it’s due to family living overseas (and those plane ticket fares at literal sky high prices), being estranged from relatives or having to work through the festive season – there are tons of reasons why you might be spending Christmas alone.

But that doesn’t mean it has to be all doom and gloom. There’s actually a number of different things you can do to mark the day, keep busy and make riding solo at Christmas actually really great. We’ve found a few to get you started.

1. Celebrate with the people who ARE around you

If you’re alone at Christmas, of course there will be other people in the same situation. Reach out to friends in your local area to see what their plans are, and come together to celebrate with anyone else who’s staying put – whether that’s cooking a big dinner as a group, going for a few festive tipples, or just hanging out. Starting your own festive traditions means you won’t have to worry if you’re alone over the holidays in the future too.

If all of your friends have fled town, there are still ways you can meet up with other people locally. For Londoners: The Alexandra pub in Wimbledon is offering a free Christmas dinner (and pint) to anyone who's spending Christmas alone, which is a perfect way to get out, get boozy and make some new friends. Comedian Sarah Millican has also started the Twitter hashtag #JoinIn, to help you find other people in your area to hang out with over Christmas, plus local events you can go to on the big day. Free Christmas lunch, anyone?

2. Have a date with a dog

We all know it’s basically impossible to feel sad when you’ve got a dog for company, so if you can’t afford to buy your own (or your landlord’s a bit of a killjoy and won’t let you have one), borrow someone else’s instead. Borrowmydoggy is a GENIUS website that lets you literally babysit someone's canine chum to help them out when they can't fulfil their dog parenting duties. Which is probably a situation a lot of pet parents find themselves in over Christmas...

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All you have to do is create a (free) profile, have a browse for owners that might need your help, and send an application. You won't get paid for your doggy daycare duties, but you might get to spend Christmas Day with a ball of happy, excited fur for company. What could be better?!

3. Go for a run

I know what you're thinking: exercise? Shouldn't today be about binge eating as much turkey/chocolate/cheese as physically possible while wearing a really tiny, really rubbish paper crown?!

Okay, it may be the season typically associated with overindulgence – but there are loads of active events you can attend on Christmas Day to get you out the house and burn a few of those sixth-round-of-roasties kcals too. Parkrun host lots of events on Christmas day morning, so joggers can come together with other crazy joggers, and achieve something impressive while the rest of us are in our PJs scoffing our tenth Quality Street (at 10am).

If you’re feeling even braver (read: more insane) you can also join a Christmas swim. There are events on December 25th, Boxing Day and over New Year – so plenty of chances to get hypothermia. Sorry, we meant busy. Check out the list of events here.

4. Do some volunteering

Sounds cliché, but spending the day helping others less fortunate can feel amazing and will mean a lot to them too. Homeless charity, Crisis have lots of activities you can get involved with over the festive period in several major cities across the UK. Or you can spend the day bringing lonely elderly people together by volunteering for Community Christmas. You’ll get out the house, meet some interesting people, and probably hear some cracking grandad jokes too. Winner, winner.

5. Forget it's Christmas and just have a day off...

...because why should this day off be different to any other day off?! Make the most of the free time to do whatever you want. Fancy sitting in your pjs all day working through a cheeseboard? Down for binge watching all five seasons of House of Cards? Want to work your way through an entire bottle of Bailey’s while singing along to Christmas songs in manner of Bridget Jones? Or just up for making yourself an elaborate feast of all your favourite dishes (hell yes to potato waffles followed by mac and cheese) then spending the rest of the day napping? DO IT.

There shall be no judgement today, for today is YOUR day. Go forth and Christmas your way.

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