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Enjoying Christmas as an empty nester

Christmas can feel vastly different with grown-up children. Little festive traditions change, and the atmosphere is more mature. But, an emptier nest can take the pressure off celebrations and leave room for a more relaxed affair.

Olivia Barnes-Brett
· 6 min read

Christmas can feel vastly different with grown-up children. Little festive traditions change, and the atmosphere is more mature. But, an emptier nest can take the pressure off celebrations and leave room for a more relaxed affair.

A grown-up Christmas

Without young children or teenagers in the house, it’s easy to feel as though Christmas has lost its charm. That doesn’t have to be the case! Grown-up children who come back for Christmas bring new stories and experiences with them. They might even bring new partners or friends along too! Instead of a festive version of a typical day, Christmas becomes a rare occasion for a fantastic get-together.

Equally, grown-up guests are more likely to pitch in with Christmas preparations. It’s no longer your responsibility to get everything ready! A little help goes a long way over the festive season, meaning you can relax and enjoy your break. 

These new dynamics create wonderful new traditions. If you’re lucky, someone else might take on the challenge of cooking Christmas dinner! Remember, it might not be long before you wake up to little grandchildren sprinting madly around the house at 5 am. Enjoy a little peace while it lasts!

What if I have less family around at Christmas?

If you’ve found out that your grown-up children won’t be coming home for Christmas, you might be imagining a rather dull affair. Fear not, a small Christmas does not have to mean a dull Christmas!

Why not take the chance to do something different this year? In coronavirus times, eating out might be off the menu. But, you could support local businesses and order in instead! You could also consider a trip abroad or a lovely day out in the local countryside.

There are also plenty of ways to get into the Christmas spirit before the big day. For example, you could experiment with Christmas crafts with the help of local experts, such as wreath making or wood carving.  Or, you could decorate the house with brand-new decorations to your taste.

What if I’m completely on my own?

Christmas without family can still feel festive and fun! It’s very easy to get caught up in what you “should” be doing on Christmas Day.  You should have a Christmas dinner. You should be with other people. You should feel merry, surrounded by a ten-foot tree, a realistic nativity scene, and a football-sized Christmas pudding. But…why?

If you’re spending Christmas on your own, why not take some much-needed time for yourself? Do things that make you happy! Eat what do you want and watch what you want. Decorate how and if you want. Get up early and go on an adventure in the countryside or spend the entire day in your pyjamas eating chocolate…it’s your day!

Five ideas for creating new Christmas traditions as an empty nester

1. Mix it up with new gift ideas

You may remember big piles of presents under the Christmas tree with fondness. Little children waking up and tearing open their gifts with glee. But, grown-up gift giving has its own charms.  You could set a spending limit between family members, put a cap on the number of presents each person gives, or even start a secret Santa!

You might also notice that grown-up children show more appreciation for their gifts. After all, students, graduates, and those starting new careers don’t get many occasions to spoil themselves.

2.  Volunteer, in person or online

Volunteering is a popular Christmas pastime. It’s best to sign up as a volunteer in advance to avoid disappointment.  There are endless ways to help out those in need.  Volunteers can help in person or online, regularly or as a one-off. 

For more information about volunteering at Christmas time, see our article on helping out your community at Christmas.

3. Find about Christmas abroad

Researching Christmas traditions around the world is an excellent source of inspiration. For example, did you know that children in Germany leave boots outside their door on 6th December in the hope of finding them filled with sweets? Or that, in France, families gather on the evening of 24th December for their festive meal?

You can also find recipes online for delicious Christmas treats from around the world. How about this traditional Hungarian poppy cake recipe? Or a Christmas breakfast cake straight from the Philippines?

4. Make your gifts

This idea will take some planning but will be extremely rewarding. Rather than getting stuck in long queues and planning endless deliveries, why not make something for each of your close friends or family members? Here are a few ideas:

Sew a gift 

We’ve published a guide on how to start sewing. You could make anything from an easy cushion cover to an elaborate dress! 

Frame a photo 

Use your photography skills to take a photo of someone’s favourite place. Then, print the photo on high-quality paper and frame it for a professional finish.

Test your baking skills

You don’t need to be a contender for the Great British Bake Off to whip up something tasty. Those with a sweet tooth will appreciate the extra effort put into their gifts. Presentation is important, so why not serve in a festive jar or cute little box?

Pension Times, your complete guide this Christmas

Here at Pension Times, we aim to be the complete guide for the over 50s. We publish lifestyle guides, financial information, wellbeing tips, and the latest news, all in one place. For more festive inspiration, why not have a look at our article on five ideas for Christmas nibbles?

Olivia Barnes-Brett

Olivia Barnes-Brett

Olivia is an experienced writer and has written and edited content for a variety of online platforms and publications. A languages enthusiast, Olivia speaks three languages and is also involved in teaching and creative fiction writing.