The holiday season sparks warm memories of decorating the tree, special family traditions and opening gifts after weeks of anticipation. But once the children have graduated college, moved across the country or started their own families, empty nesters may find themselves with an eerily quiet home for the holidays. Cooking an elaborate meal may not be quite as meaningful without the kids, and the act of wrestling holiday decorations out of the garage — and the thought of having to pack them away again — may seem like a less-than-cheery chore. While the idea of spending the holidays without children (and grandchildren) might bring a tear to your eye, it also presents exciting opportunities: the chance to start new traditions and celebrate the holidays in ways that may not have been possible before. Here are five ways to fill your empty nest with holiday cheer.
1. Plan a trip.
If your kids committed themselves to the in-laws this year, take advantage of the fact that you have the flexibility to go anywhere you want. A long-haul flight to somewhere sunny may appeal, but if you fancy something a bit closer to home and, well, just a bit more ‘Christmassy’, Taymouth Marina could fit the bill. We can have your tree up and decorated for your arrival. Your apartment stocked with delicious food & drink. A table booked for the big day itself at our own restaurant or one of the fantastic eateries in the area. Climb a munro or just wander through the woods with your four legged friend. Then warm up with mulled wine or a wee dram after a dip in the water down at our lochside sauna, the Hot Box.
Giving back to the community may be high on your list of goals in your new life as an empty nester, so why not dedicate part of your holiday to volunteer work? Soup kitchens, homeless shelters and hospitals are always looking for reliable help on holidays. Spend the morning or afternoon making someone else’s holiday a little brighter, then treat yourself to a nice dinner — and maybe an elaborate gift or two.
3. Celebrate earlier or later.
If your children live relatively close, consider celebrating the holiday on a different day or even a different month. Chances are your children are having a hard time letting go of childhood traditions too, and this alternative gives everyone the chance to recapture holiday memories, even if everything isn’t exactly the way it used to be.
4. Host a dinner party.
If your inner host is itching for an excuse to bring out the holiday china and finally try that Julia Child recipe, begin a new tradition of hosting an annual adults-only holiday soiree. If it’s your first year celebrating the holidays in a new home, kill two birds with one stone and call it a Holiday Housewarming Party. Whether you’ve recently moved, downsized or redecorated, guests will love the opportunity to see your new space and have a new annual tradition to look forward to each year.
5. Break with tradition.
When all the kids come back home, you may feel compelled to deck out the tree, set out all the handmade decorations and make your famous breakfast casserole. But if you’re only hosting one of the kids or none at all, put a few new traditions in place, like putting up a smaller, faux tree, going out for brunch or enjoying a candlelight dinner for two, followed by your favourite holiday movie. If you’ve recently sold your family home and downsized to a smaller condo or townhome, splurge on new decorations and accessories to create the winter wonderland you’ve seen in magazines but never had the chance to recreate. Make the holidays in your new home a time to reconnect with your significant other, reflect on past memories and make new ones.
You’ll always look forward to and cherish those holidays when it’s “your turn” to host the kids, their significant others and your grandchildren. But by embracing the idea of creating new holiday traditions, you’ll look forward to the possibilities every year can bring.