How to Enjoy the Holidays Without Family

This year marks our second Christmas in the Mile High City; and Christmas numero dose that we’ve essentially (ok, literally) had to celebrate alone. We have no “people” here in Denver. All of our family members are thousands of miles away and it feels especially weird around the holidays. Sometimes it struggles to feel like celebrating when you’re just home with the hub and kids like any normal day! But we’re making it work; the kiddos haven’t complained so I’m here to tell you how we enjoy the holidays without family.

It can get lonely when you don’t have any family in just normal daily life, but when you have different variations of “there’s no place like home for the holidays” on a loop in your car for two months… well, it provides ample reminder that you’ll be alone this Christmas.

How to Enjoy the Holidays Without Family

I’m one of those people who is thrilled to bust out the Christmas decor on November 1st. I definitely listen to Christmas music and watch Christmas themed movies for as long as seasonably possible. I used to really enjoy all of the Secret Santas at work, the holiday parties, and family get togethers in December. That’s the stuff I really miss about having deep roots established somewhere. But I’m learning that spending the holidays with just my immediate family can be pretty cool too.

  1. We Still Practice the Normal Traditions

    We still bake the cookies, build the gingerbread houses, and engage in Michael Bublé dance parties. It is still Christmas after all. I would hate for the kids to miss out on those things simply because I didn’t get to do it with my sister and sister-in-law like we used to every year. (Side note: we had a Sister Bakeoff every year prior to us moving to Denver, where my sister, Josh’s sister, and I would bake enough cookies to feed an army. Oftentimes we would misread recipes resulting in subpar batches here and there… but we’re all a hoot so it was always a good time. 😉 )

    But my kids definitely share my love for baking and they love a good bakeoff themselves. Although, they are far less helpful when it comes time to clean up than my sisters were. ;)We might even exaggerate the normal traditions for the kids’ sake. I mean cookies are exciting, but I probably wouldn’t actually squeal about making them with another adult. #momperks

    We’ve actually made a new family tradition since moving here too. We get real trees now. I’m still debating whether or not to continue this one… but we’re two years strong this far. Honestly if my dog lifts his leg on this years tree one more time he will make the decision for me. He never did it a single time last year… I don’t know what kind of life this tree was living prior to its life here in captivity… but Oakley digs it.

    How to Enjoy the Holidays Without FamilyHow to Enjoy the Holidays Without FamilyHow to Enjoy the Holidays Without Family

  2. We Make the Little Things Special

    Like the pancakes. The kids loooove to make pancakes with Josh on the weekends. So on Christmas we’re going to make the batter from scratch (this is seriously SO much better than boxed mix, why didn’t anyone ever tell me?) and we’re going to make the pancakes inside of cookie cutters so that they’re Christmas shaped.Since the kids won’t have Grandma’s house or Auntie’s house for dinner to look forward to, we try to keep the spirit up inside the house.

    How to Enjoy the Holidays Without Family

  3. We’re still going to Get Ready.

    Let’s be real, half the fun of Christmas is getting dressed up in all the festive attire. I know my daughter loves her a Christmas dress and I still totally plan on letting her wear one! If we were going to dinner with the fam we would get dressed, so we’ll do that at home too.At least that’s the plan for now. Perk of staying home is…if we decide that we don’t feel like it…we don’t have to do it!

    And that dear friends is one surefire way to enjoy the holiday…

    How to Enjoy the Holidays Without Family

  4. Realize that it’s All About You

    We can change plans on a whim if we want to. Maybe I’ll feel like going to the mountains to see some snow this Christmas (because Denver didn’t get the damn memo that it’s almost winter now.) We can stay home in our Christmas pjs and watch alllllll the Netflix if we want to too. OR we can make freaking spaghetti baskets if we want to… the sky is the limit folks.It’s all about us now. Maybe that’s not always such a bad thing. I don’t even have to eat food that I don’t like just to be polite. #PickyEaterWin

    How to Enjoy the Holidays Without Family

  5. Decide that You’re Going to Enjoy It

    I’m going to miss my family a lot this Christmas. It will be our first Christmas without my Grandpa – he mostly only cared about the food, classic music, and old school movies that accompanied the holidays – but I’ll definitely be thinking of him all day. But I have already prepared myself for that reality, and I have decided that I’m going to enjoy this Christmas with my husband and kids no matter what.I already know that’s not going to be like the Christmases we always had in the past, but that’s okay. There’s more than one way to enjoy something. I’ll still have most of the people who matter most around a pretty sparkling tree with me. And Christmas tress are my favorite. 🙂

    How to Enjoy the Holidays Without FamilyHow to Enjoy the Holidays Without Family

So whether you’ve recently experienced a big move like I have or your plans have just changed this year for whatever reason… you can still totally looooove your holiday. And with today’s technology you can just FaceTime Grandma to let her know how much you love and miss her! Because maybe she just moved to Chicago and you’ve never gone this long without seeing her in your adult life and it’s too expensive to fly everyone out there at Christmas time…. no? Just me then? 😉

Well I hope that you have the most joyous holiday whether you’re surrounded by family at dinner or snuggled up on the couch with just your children, it will be December 25th either way.


Semi-Moved-In Christmas Home Tour (2016)

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  • Renee Benes

    Great post!

  • SassyCountryMama

    I know the feeling. We were hoping to go see some family in another state this year but we are unable to.

  • I think it sounds like you are going to have a great holiday. I love the Christmas pancake idea. We do have family in the area, but it sometimes get stressful driving between 2 different places. I would sometimes like to just stay home and start our own traditions.

  • I definitely feel you in this, it used to hurt me a lot having my family away but builting new traditions definitely helps! This year is going to be harder because my dad passed away last year so doing without him is going to be a struggle, but since he was such an elf we will try to be as festive as possible, fake it until you make it

  • I can relate as I moved to the US to go to college and spent a few holidays alone. Christmas memories remain a bit forlorn but, I’ve moved on by making it special with my kids and close friends. Happy Holidays!
    Elizabeth O

  • Larissa Joassaint

    Great tips! One of my coworkers recently moved to the area and all her family is several states away. I’ll have to send her this post! As for me, our family is spread out across the states and around the world – so we didn’t necessarily grow up celebrating the holidays together, although that would have been nice! Over the past few years we have been trying to spend Thanksgiving together, and we’re hoping to get together for Christmas one of these years soon!

  • I’m graduating from college in May and likely moving away, so this was really helpful for me! Thank you!!

  • Jessica Bradshaw

    How fun! I adore your photos. I love that you are making the best of it. Y’all look super happy.

  • Making the little things special is so important, they are always the big things!

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