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Holidays Away From Home: How to Celebrate After College

During your years in college, it was pretty much a given that you’d spend the holidays at home. Whether you’ve moved to a new city (or country!) that’s too far from home to head back to this season or your work schedule doesn’t allow for long enough of a break to visit your family, you might be faced with the reality that you won’t be going home this year. But just because there isn’t a month-long winter break in the real world doesn’t mean holiday cheer should be neglected! Even with distance from family and friends, you can still bring the seasonal spirit into your life to make your first post-college holiday season every bit as special.

In the office

Office holiday party or not, when you’re spending the majority of your time at work, it’s the perfect place to bring in a bit of festive spirit. If you’re close with your coworkers, consider doing a gift exchange—or you can do something as simple as decorate your cubicle. Keep any decorations subtle and work-appropriate, though (you still want to look professional)! For example, you can hang any cards that friends and family send you up in your cubicle, or even have your parents send you your favorite childhood ornament to hang by your computer so you feel that much closer to home.

Long distance

Just because you can’t be physically present doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the holidays with your family! Thanks to video-chatting apps, you can “spend time” with your loved ones. Schedule a time with your family to do a Skype or FaceTime session, or get your long-distance friends together in a Google Hangout to do a big group chat. You can even whip up some of your favorite recipes from home and eat dinner with your family virtually!

And don’t miss out on gift-giving, either! Set up a Secret Santa among your friend group using a gift exchange generator such as Elfster so each of you will be mailing out one present to someone in your group—this way, everybody gets a special gift, and none of you will need to take on the cost of shipping dozens of different gifts all over the country.

In your new home

Chances are there are tons of other graduettes in your city who are dealing with the same problem! Reach out to your friends in your new city and find out what they’re doing for the holidays. Get your party-planning skills ready and host a party for anybody who’s around, and have them invite any of their friends who won’t be going home for the holidays this year either. Whether you decide to organize a potluck dinner or a New Year’s Eve party in your new apartment, you’ll be spending it with friends and meeting new people.

And even if you’re not hosting an event, don’t be afraid to get festive! Your apartment is your very own place now, so you can go all out when decorating: Create an entire winter wonderland, or simply put up photos from past holidays. You can also have your family send you some decorations from home to put up in your place.

In your new city

Every city has its own way of celebrating the holidays, so if you’ve moved somewhere new after graduation, go out and see what your neighborhood has to offer!

Jessica Jaksich, a graduate from Emory University, says, “Since graduating and moving to New York, I’ve definitely made it a priority to take in all the festivities NYC has to offer, [such as the] Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes and ice-skating in Bryant Park.” Grab a friend and go to a holiday event, or just walk through your city on your own and take in the lights, storefronts and more.

Being abroad shouldn’t stop you from celebrating your favorite holidays either. Recent graduette Amy* is currently traveling in Europe and plans to celebrate with the friends she has made out there. “[We had] a nice, home-cooked meal together for Thanksgiving,” she says. “It’s not the same, but at least we have good friends and spirits to share the festivities with!”

If you haven’t been in your new city long enough to have met people to share the holidays with yet, try getting together with locals via Meetup or GirlFriendCircles, where you can search for organized events and holiday meet-ups with people in your area.

The first holiday season after graduating can be difficult—after all, nothing can beat your mom’s homemade pies! But whether you choose to spend the holidays “together” with your long-distance family and friends or you create your own memories and traditions in your new city, your holiday season this year can be just as festive and fun as it would be in your hometown.

*Name has been changed.

Sheetal studied History at the University of Nottingham and was Campus Correspondent during her final year, before graduating in July 2014. She is currently jumping between jobs, whilst still writing for HC in her spare time. She may or may not be some of these things: foodie, book addict, world traveller (crazy dreamer!), lover of cheese, Australian immigrant, self-proclaimed photographer, wannabe dancer, tree hugger, lipstick ruiner, curly-haired and curious. She hopes for world peace and dreams that someday, cake will not make you fat.