I’ll admit it. As a single gal, the holiday season can feel a little lonely. Even though I’m Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas, from about mid November through New Years, I think I lack a little All American holiday spirit. Even Chanukah, the holiday of light, can feel isolating when lighting candles on my own. The last time I hand-grated potatoes for homemade latkes? It was for my boyfriend at the time.
Thanksgiving, Chanukah and “Chinese Food and A Movie Day” can make a single girl, or guy, (especially those who don’t have kids of their own) feel left out. After all, the holidays are generally family-oriented, even if family means a couple. For some singles, the holiday season can be an annual six-week reminder they aren’t in love and/or haven’t started a family just yet…
So how does a single girl or guy beat the holiday season blues? Well if you’re a Savvy Auntie (or Savvy Uncle) the best medicine may be to focus on your nieces and nephews! And not only the ones by relation, but all those kids you love by choice – especially if your relatives live far away. Children can fill our lives with joy, just like the holiday season should.
Here are my top 10 tips for getting the most of out the holiday season!
1) Take your nieces and nephews to see a Thanksgiving Day parade! The crowds can be huge sometimes, so get there early and bring snacks. If you can swing it, see if you can view the parade from someone’s apartment or office window so it’s not too chilly for the kids. Before you go, show them videos or images of the floats and balloons so they know what to expect. They’ll be really excited!
2) If you’re a crafty auntie or uncle, create placemats, festive centerpieces and other décor to warm up the home for family gatherings. The children will be so proud of their contributions.
3) I don’t know about you, but those well-meaning holiday cards of that beautiful family wishing me ‘and my family’ a happy holiday season can be a reminder of what I don’t have. So why not make holiday cards of your own with a photo of you doing what you love? You may even consider creating a card with a great photo of yourself with the favorite kids in your life. We know you want to show off these most precious people in your life. Or as a Chanukah gift, offer a photo shoot session with the entire family – including you!
4) Take your nieces and nephews out for a winter wonderland day! Go ice skating, tobogganing, make snow forts and go out for the best hot chocolate your city has to offer!
5) Bake Chanukah cookies together! For many kids, the best part is decorating, so if your nieces and nephews are age six or under, you may even want to consider baking the cookies beforehand and just letting them decorate them. Be sure to have plenty of decorating options!
6) The family may be planning the annual Chanukah party, but that shouldn’t stop you from having a special Chanukah party for your nieces, nephews and all the little cousins! Get your aunt and uncle’s friends to bring their nieces and nephews, too! Play Chanukah games (Dreidel anyone? Don’t forget the chocolate gelt!), pin the flame on the Menorah, and serve latkes with their favorite dips! And don’t forget those beautifully decorated cookies they made!
7) If they live far away, visit the children you love, even if it’s just for a short period of time. Their smile when they see you at the door will have lasting effects.
8) Aunts and uncles love to spoil their nieces and nephews with Chanukah gifts. Why not make it an experience? This year, Chanukah is a few weeks before the last minute Christmas shoppers fill up the stores, so take your niece or nephew shopping for their gift! That way, you are sure to pick out the right gift, and you get to spend quality time with them.
9) Start a new holiday tradition! Whether it’s watching movies together, adding classic books to their library, starting a hobby or collection together, or spending a special designated day together, it’s never too late to get annual rituals started.
10) If the holiday season can be lonely for you, imagine what it’s like for those who are less fortunate. Take your nieces and nephews to visit their Great Auntie Zoe to light the Menorah together, bring gifts to sick kids in the hospital or volunteer at a soup kitchen. Giving back is the best gift of all.
Melanie Notkin is the founder of SavvyAuntie.com. Her first book: SAVVY AUNTIE: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids (William Morrow/HarperCollins) is available in March.