Skip to main content Shop participates in the Amazon Services Associates Program as well as other affiliate programs. By participating in these programs, Shop may receive a commission, at no additional cost to you, for purchases you make through links on our site. Retailers may change their offers at any time so visit their sites for details.

Far from Home? How to Have a Joyful Holiday


December 6, 2022

Family fun and togetherness are a big part of the holidays for most people. After all, “there’s no place like home for the holidays,” as the song goes. But many people can’t spend the winter holidays with their family, including military members who are on deployment or stationed far away from family and students staying at school over the holiday break.

Whatever the reason you’re away from home during the winter holidays, trying to get into the spirit in a different environment, surrounded by different people, can be tough. These tips below will help you celebrate the season and find the joy, no matter how far away from home you are.

Make the First Move – Call or Write

Your friends and family may not know you’re feeling a little homesick over the holidays. Don’t wait for them to get in touch with you – go ahead and reach out with a phone call, email, text, or holiday card. Connecting with someone you care about who also cares about you can lift your spirits and make you feel closer to home, even if you’re thousands of miles away.

Build a Community Away from Home

You aren’t the only person celebrating the holidays away from home. Try to find other like-minded people and make plans together on special days. Consider a potluck dinner, special meal out together, or game night. It will give you something to look forward to and it’s an opportunity to make new memories.

Be Thankful for What You’re Missing

Many people find seeing family over the holidays stressful. While 95% of people in a survey agreed that it was important to spend the holidays with family, 75% also report wanting to slip away for a moment alone. If you’re spending the holidays far from home, you’re missing out on this common source of stress. That’s something you can be (at least a little) thankful for.

Volunteer, Give Back, Help Out

Generosity and kindness are virtues of the holiday. What better way to have a joyful holiday yourself than to create joy for others? Volunteering your time in a food bank or soup kitchen for a holiday meal is often the first thing that comes to mind, but there are many other ways to give back. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Knit or crochet hats for preemie babies and donate them to your local hospital.
  • Volunteer to walk or provide care for animals at a local shelter.
  • Visit people who are also away from family at a senior or assisted living facility.
  • Donate blankets, hats, scarves, and coats to women’s or homeless shelters.
  • Take a plate of goodies to a neighbor, especially one who lives alone.

Treat Yourself

Even if you already have a pile of gifts from friends and family, add one more special gift – something from you to you.

Yes, it’s okay to buy yourself a present. (It’s even okay to wrap it and then unwrap it a few days later if that’s something you enjoy.) A little extra self-care this season can go a long way.

Embrace Traditions Even Far Away from Family

Just because you miss your family doesn’t mean you have to miss out on your beloved traditions. What are the activities, dishes, holiday albums, or movies that make the season so special?

Go ahead and bake those cookies, make that casserole, and decorate your house, even if you’re the only one who will enjoy it. Or set up a watch party with friends or family back home to view your favorite holiday movie together virtually.

Start New Traditions

This is a great opportunity to start new traditions. If you’re far from home, take inspiration from the people and culture around you by trying your hand at cooking a local dish or taking part in a seasonal event. It could end up being a tradition you bring back with you the next time you’re home for the winter holidays.

Do Whatever You Want to Do for a Change

If you’re spending the holidays solo and far away from home, this is a great opportunity to make the season your own instead of trodding the path of family traditions.

Do you want to stay in bed all day, eating pizza and reading? Get outdoors and take a long hike all by yourself? Travel somewhere completely new? Dine at a restaurant you’ve always wanted to try? Do it! Seize the opportunity to do something just for you that brings you joy. You may start your own brand new tradition.