What to do if you’re alone with your kids on Christmas Day

Alone with kids Christmas


I'm a single mum who's spent the last two Christmases alone with my kids. I know how daunting it can be to face Christmas Day without family or friends, especially when you're worried about making the day special for your children.

But I'm here to tell you that it's possible to have a wonderful Christmas even if you're alone. In fact, it can be an even more special day because it's just you and your kids...and you can do exactly what you please.

Whether you're all about keeping it traditional or you wanna embrace the unconventional, the choice is all yours (and the kids of course).

It doesn't matter if it's just two of you, or you have two, three, four, or more kiddies to entertain, these ideas will help you make Christmas Day fun and festive for everyone.

Arrange a mystery gift hunt

When you're alone with your kids on Christmas Day, nothing's more exciting than starting with a mystery gift hunt (after a hearty breakfast of course!).

Don't go overboard, though, as it might be too complicated, especially if you have younger children. To ensure things stay cheerful, offer age-appropriate clues for your kids.

If things start to get difficult due to frustration or impatience, offer hints and encouragement. Remind them of the reward they'll be getting. Tell them that it's not about the challenge. It's about the joy of discovery and spending quality time together.

Do some Christmas volunteering

Two Christmases ago, my kids and I started volunteering at a soup kitchen nearby. And we plan on going again this year!

Doing volunteer work is a great way to pass the time, plus I get to teach my children the importance of giving back. I believe that introducing acts of charity at an early age will contribute a lot to shaping your child’s values.

If boredom strikes, remind your little ones that their actions are making a positive impact on other people's lives.

Try The Salvation Army website to find out how you can help others this Christmas.

Make mocktails!

This is my kids' favourite! This is the only time they get to play bartender, and they love it! 

Making mocktails works no matter how many little humans you need to entertain. 

You can set up a pretend bar counter in the kitchen or on the dining table. 

If your children are too young or you're not comfortable introducing the "bar" setup to your kiddos yet, you can do a restaurant setup instead.

This activity is also perfect if your kids love doing experiments because they can mix drinks however they want! 

If frustration arises due to spills or messes, remind your kiddos that it's all part of the fun. Use these moments as opportunities to laugh together and relish the imperfections of the day.

Video call your loved ones

Being alone with your kids on Christmas Day can be pretty exhausting. After all, you have to entertain on your own for the whole day. So I plan some downtime when we can all relax.

And what's a better downtime than reaching out to your loved ones through video calls? While on the call, don't hesitate to express your feelings; sharing them can make the distance feel less daunting.

Remember, your family and friends are just a call away, and they're eager to share the holiday spirit with you.

Have a festive photoshoot

A festive photoshoot can capture the magic of the day. You can choose a theme based on your kids' favourite show or character to make it more fun and interesting. You can also do a DIY backdrop and ask your little ones for help in decorating and setting it up.

If mood swings or tiredness strike, take breaks and keep it light-hearted. Candid shots often turn out to be the most precious, so let your children be themselves in front of the camera.

Start a Christmas memory jar

Starting a Christmas memory jar is another tradition I've always wanted to try.

To begin, place an empty jar or container somewhere visible in your home. Provide each of your kids with colourful pieces of paper and pens.

Throughout the day, encourage your little ones to jot down their favourite moments, kind gestures, or heartfelt thoughts related to Christmas. These notes could be about anything, from a funny mishap during gift unwrapping to a heartwarming conversation by the fireplace.

At the end of the day, take turns reading the notes aloud.

Further reading: What's a memory jar and how can it help my child.

Do a fancy dress-up dinner

Spending Christmas Day alone with your kids can actually turn into a magical experience. And what better way to add some sparkle than with a fancy dress-up dinner?

If I were doing one, I'd start by making the menu both kid-friendly and special. Then I'd transform the dining room into a five-star restaurant, complete with tablecloths, candles, and maybe even a small centrepiece of Christmas ornaments. And finally, put on our finest outfits to mark this special Christmas Day.

During dinner, you can talk about the highlights of the year or what your kids are looking forward to next year.

Plan a Christmas Day outing

I have found that Christmas Day afternoon can drag on when it’s just me and the kids so one good idea is to plan a Christmas Day outing. A change of scenery and a breath of fresh air help combat boredom and loneliness.

During your Christmas Day out, remember to stay flexible and choose activities that suit your children's interests. If things get tough due to unexpected issues, stay calm and adapt the plan as needed to keep the day enjoyable.

Remember, most place are closed on Christmas Day to so check before if you are planning to eat out, grab an ice cream or gain entry somewhere. We don't want any disappointments to put a downer on the day.

Do a Christmas karaoke or dance party

If you're alone with your kids on Christmas Day, having a karaoke or a dance party is one unforgettable way to make the holiday extra special. 

To set the stage, clear out some space in the living room, put up some disco lights, and roll out that karaoke machine. If your kids are younger, include songs from their favourite Christmas movies.

For a dance party, set up a good speaker system.

No disco ball? Not a problem! String up Christmas lights and let the tinsel on your tree catch and scatter the light for a magical effect.

Take turns being the DJ, and let your little dancers have a chance to spin their favourite tracks, too.

Build a gingerbread house

Another activity you can try is building a gingerbread house. Not only will this boost your kids' creativity and imagination, but it will also strengthen your bond with them.

You can bake the gingerbread from scratch to make it more special. But if you want to save time, you can buy pre-made kits. Make sure to provide an array of colourful icing, candies, and edible decorations.

If frustration arises from sticky icing or collapsing walls, remind your kids that it's all about the process. That way they'll learn to embrace the mess and savour the sweet results.

Further reading: Christmas cooking for kids that actually works.

Create new traditions

Creating new traditions when you're alone with your kids on Christmas Day can be a heartwarming way to redefine the holiday. Sit down with your children and brainstorm ideas for unique rituals that reflect your family's values and interests.

My kids and I love writing letters to Santa together and placing them in a special mailbox. Alternatively, you could pick out a classic holiday story to read aloud by the Christmas tree or start a tradition of crafting homemade ornaments.

Remember to listen to your children's suggestions and let them take the lead on activities that resonate with them.

Involve your kids

This is first on my to-do list whenever I'm alone with my kids on Christmas Day. Because I believe that involving your children in planning, preparation, and cleaning can reduce feelings of loneliness and foster a sense of togetherness.

Encourage your kiddos to share their preferences for activities, whether it's choosing which Christmas movies to watch, what games to play, or which special meal they'd like to prepare together.

Give them a sense of ownership over the day's events, and they'll be more invested in making it memorable.

Final words: What to do if you're alone with your kids on Christmas Day

Being alone with your kids on Christmas Day can be emotionally challenging, but it can also be a day filled with love, joy, and unforgettable memories.

By embracing these activities and involving your children in the holiday festivities, you can create a Christmas that will warm your hearts for years to come.

It doesn't matter if you do one or all of the activities above. What matters most is that you spend this special day with them.

Cherish the time you have together, and remember that love and togetherness are what truly make this season magical.

Merry Christmas!

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Sally Love

About the author

Sally Love is a pseudo single mum author who has been writing about single motherhood, separation and divorce for 8+ years. She has been a single mother for 10+ years and has two daughters, one of whom she co-parents and the other she solo parents. Sally has experienced all aspects of single motherhood from legal, financial, parenting, dating, travel as a single parent, re-partnering and re-building a career. She is an integral part of the Beanstalk community chatting and helping single mothers across the globe, as well as sharing her expertise, experiences and genuine reviews with major national newspapers and appearing on nation-wide television shows.

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