10 things to do if you are alone on Thanksgiving

While most people prefer to spend the holidays surrounded by friends and family, sometimes work, distance and other commitments keep loved ones from being able to reunite during the holiday season.

Other people would simply rather spend time in solitude and take advantage of holiday vacations as a time to relax and recharge.

In any case, here are some tips for those who will be spending Thanksgiving alone:

1. Don't get caught up in Hallmark expectations

The mental image that many people have of the perfect family holiday is often just that: an image. There can be so much expectation about the season being just right that it brings up all sorts of stress. Make it right for you. You don't have to answer to anyone else.

2. Pick up the phone

If you feel the need for company, call some friends and see if they'd mind having an extra guest. Offer to bring a dish or see how you can contribute.

It can be tough to invite yourself, but most people love opening their homes and expanding the celebration.

3. Be proactive

Call your friends, find your people and create your own gathering. One potluck feast and a few good friends can be much more fun than an awkward family gathering.

Remember that you are not alone in being alone during the holidays. Get together with others and have some fun.

4. Explore

With most people stuck at home or in front of the TV, Thanksgiving can be a great time to explore without crowds around. Go on a hike or go to the movies or a park. Fly a kite. Walk on the beach. Enjoy the day.

5. Take on a project

Thanksgiving is a holiday, but it's also the start of what could be an easy four-day weekend you could use to take on one of those house projects that you've been meaning to do. Stock up on materials early in the week before the Black Friday crowds hit and spend the weekend building a new bookshelf or repainting a guest room.

6. Help others

Volunteering at a mission or shelter for the homeless can help you feel connected to others and avoid a feeling of isolation. It makes it a little more fulfilling if you participate in activities with the organization at other times of the year as well, but making connections can start on any day.

7. Travel

If you can afford it, get away for a few days. Go skiing or take a tropical holiday. This is a great time to get deals to vacation spots while most people are traveling to be with family. Singles groups often have tour groups during the holidays. New input can help distract you from holiday blues.

8. Reach out

If you can't be with family or loved ones during this time of the year, send them letters or emails or call them. Just reach out to them.

But make sure the calls are a nice diversion for the day, not the centerpiece of it. You should enjoy the moments of contact, not dwell on the fact that you’re not with family and friends.

9. Pamper yourself

Plenty of spas are open during the holidays to help people deal with the season. Treat yourself to a spa day or a spa few days. Some spas offer themed weeks of relaxation based around the holidays.

If you'd prefer to stay closer to home, there's always the option to relax with a candlelight bubble bath followed by hot chocolate, a warm blanket and a movie.

10. Play

Have you been telling that yourself you'll start painting again or get back to the guitar? Now's your chance.

If you aren't normally artistically inclined, get an adult coloring book and a box of crayons. It's a simple place to start, and it's fun.