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Spending your Christmas away from your family

Laura gives her tips for making your Christmas away from family go smoothly.

Written by Laura Marriott and posted in opinion

This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for please contact

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Christmas is a time typically associated with family but many of us this year will be spending the festive season with our friends instead. As a result of work, study abroad, expense and so on there are many reasons why some of us will not be going home to our families this year.

We make connections and bond with people throughout our lives and spending traditional family events with friends can be a fun, fulfilling alternative Christmas. This is your chance to do what you want to do and not what you should do. If this is your first time to do so, here are some top tips to make the day go smoothly:

1. Send out cards and emails to as many people as you can 

You can still be connected to people even with distance between you. This is also a good time to keep in contact with lost acquaintances and people you used to work with. People like to know that they are thought of over Christmas.

2. Don't ask why someone isn't with their family

Think twice before questioning someone on why they are not with family over Christmas. For some it will be obvious e.g. cannot afford to travel home, working over the Christmas period or they are of a faith or culture that does not celebrate Christmas. Some however will have a difficult background or home life and will not want to be reminded of this. Be brave when looking at what you will do over Christmas and invite people round or suggest a get together.  

3. Plan what you will eat

Decide what you are going to eat in advance. Go all out and treat yourself. It may be worth allocating jobs to different people. Want to buy everything pre made from Marks and Spencer? Great. Just make sure one person doesn’t get lumbered with all of the cost or all of the work.

4. Save money with a secret santa

Have a secret Santa instead of buying everyone a present or decide to spend your money and effort on food and decorations. Alternatively you could all make an agreement to donate to a charity the money that would have been spent on cards and presents. Following on from this, volunteering as a group at one of the many homeless charities can be an excellent way to spend your time together. This could be a great chance to get closer to people you care about and also do something worthwhile.   

5. Never go empty handed

This applies to most events. Take a different dessert or bubbly drink with you. A non-alcoholic drink may be a particularly good idea.

6. Limit alcohol

This is also not the best time to get completely drunk. You will want to be awake and vibrant throughout the whole day and it is important not to annoy the host!

7. Control your expectations

Just let the day flow and enjoy each other’s company without adding pressure to have the best time ever. This is your chance to do things how you want to so relax. There is nearly always an after dinner slump on Christmas day, when people are perhaps a little tipsy and the atmosphere can become maudlin. Remember this is just a dip and will pass.

8. Keep us your Christmas traditions

Although this may be a good time to break out your favourite Christmas customs or games. Every year you normally play twister, watch Home Alone or indulge in a chocolate box challenge? Now's the time to relax and have fun.

9. Skype your family if you can't be with them

Importantly give people a chance and some privacy to skype their family if they choose to do so.

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Published December 20th, 2015
Last updated December 31st, 2015
Tags christmas family opinion
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