Away From Family

By Julia Price

November 3, 2017 4 min read

For many people, traveling around the holidays isn't practical. If you're one of them -- whether that's because of financial issues or other reasons -- going home for the holidays just might not be in the cards this year. The concept of "Friendsgiving" continues to grow, as Thanksgiving is one of the most expensive times of the year to fly, plus many people are not able to take off work to avoid the busiest travel days, with their delays and overcrowded security lines.

And now, Friendsgiving is spreading its spirit to Christmas. There's a growing trend called Friendsmas. Like the case with Thanksgiving, if you aren't within driving distance of your family at Christmastime, it can be incredibly difficult to visit. Rather than feel disappointed, you can create an entirely new tradition with your friends, by combining all of the traditions you love into your Friendsmas experience.

Before you get started with your plans, you'll want to put out some feelers to see who's going to be around for your Friendsmas extravaganza. You can send a group text or post on Facebook to get a feel for how many people you can plan on attending. Of course, if you're the type who feels "the more the merrier," you can ask your friends whether they know of anyone else who might like to come along. You can then create a Facebook event, listing all of the details, getting confirmation of attendance and creating a message board where -- if you're planning on having a potluck-style meal -- all members can keep track of who is bringing what dish.

Once you've got the meal coordinated, you can ask your guests to bring along their favorite holiday stories, traditions and memories, and plan to share and partake in each one throughout the evening. That way, everyone gets a little holiday flashback, plus the added joy of sharing it with a new audience.

If you want to organize something for your friends but don't want to plan a meal, you can think outside the box. For example, if you live in a warmer area where there are lots of hiking trails, you can plan a hike together. If you're in a colder area, you could get a crew together to go ice skating. Or perhaps all of your friends are traveling home and you're the only one staying put; you can reach out to friends to see whether they know of anyone doing something special. Who knows? You might even make a whole new group of friends.

Or perhaps you'd like to organize something that focuses on helping strangers who could use a hand, especially around this time of year. There are many organizations that offer volunteer opportunities. The best way to find organizations in your area is to search the web for local associations. You can also go online and check out VolunteerMatch or Meetup, the latter being a fantastic place to find groups of people who are already actively planning various volunteer missions. Keep in mind that this is the most popular time of the year to volunteer, so you may need to book far in advance. You might want to set some days aside after the holiday rush and spend your actual holidays with friends.

Another great option, falling under the volunteer umbrella, is to spend the holidays helping out with a retirement home or an orphanage. The people there are often the people who really can have an entirely different holiday experience just by knowing that someone out there cares to spend time with them. Maybe it's just reading some books, looking at photos, playing a game or talking, but that small gesture can shift you away from feeling lonely or far away from home and remind you that you, too, have the power to create a sense of home for someone who really needs it.

And of course, whatever you decide to do, never underestimate the power of a written letter or card, and make your family's holiday complete by planning ahead so it arrives on time.

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