"Holiday Orphans" Have More Fun
Perhaps your kids, grandkids and other close family members are scattered far and wide and can't be with you for the holidays this year. But don't fret. The season's activities can still be just as fun and rewarding - and maybe even more so. If you find yourself a "holiday orphan," view it as an opportunity to celebrate without family pressures and to do the things you've always wanted to do but didn't have the time.

Volunteer. Be a Santa at a children's hospital or orphanage - play games, offer an arts and crafts session or just talk to the kids to help them feel special. Help out at a homeless shelter or house of worship. Serve food at a soup kitchen or deliver it to people who cannot leave their homes.

Enjoy Your Self. Read a book and catch up on your stacks of magazines and movies. Finish those unfinished projects. Indulge in a facial or body massage. Take yourself to a movie, show or museum, or join a local guided tour. Travel to that city or country you always wanted to see.

Be a Social Butterfly. If you're on your own you can party hop to your hearts content. It's a great way to meet new people and discover new traditions too. But don't feel obligated to accept every invitation or to go to every party. If the gathering or guest list isn't your cup of tea it's better to do something else, including relaxing at home.

Acknowledge Your Spiritual Side. Feed your soul on a nature hike, at a yoga class, at your house of worship or wherever you feel spiritually renewed. Sing in a religious choir or attend a religious performance.

Enjoy Time with Other Holiday Orphans. Tweak your family's holiday traditions by creating a new "family" of friends. Invite other holiday orphans and special friends to help you decorate your home, accompany you on shopping trips, bake cookies, write cards together and gather for a potluck celebration. If the group doesn't feel like preparing food and cleaning up, everyone can go to a restaurant.

Maintain a "Gratitude Attitude." Research shows that counting your blessings has positive effects on your physical and psychological health. It boosts your immune system, motivates you to take better care of yourself and reduces stress. Gratitude attitudes are also infectious - so spread the joy!