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Last Christmas was the first time that I’d spent the holiday away from my parents and siblings. I had just been married and to save money after the wedding, we opted to stay home. Leading up to the holiday, I was a pretty big brat about it and now see the ways in which I could have handled it differently.

So when my co-worker told me today that she was going to be away from her mom and stay in New York for Christmas for the first time while undeniably sulking, I tried to be more encouraging than the cry baby I was the year before. (I’m the baby of the family. What do you expect?)

But the truth is, just because you can’t spend every Christmas holiday with your family doesn’t mean it can’t still be a joyful and fun time. Here are a few ways to make the most of the special day when you’re spending it without family for the first time.

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Plan to Do Something

And by something, that can be nothing, too. Stay in your pajamas and watch Lifetime holiday movies. Cook. Sleep. Play holiday jams and chill. As long as you go into it with a plan of how you want those 24 hours to go, it doesn’t have to feel like a day gone to waste or lonely.

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