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Surviving your first Christmas after separation

Article updated November 2023

The festive season is nearly upon us. Yet, for those facing their first Christmas after separation or divorce, this year things might look very different. 

While you can’t control all of the changes that come with the end of a relationship, you can choose to reframe the holidays and invent new traditions so that you can look forward to a happy Christmas. 

Here are some simple seasonal tips to keep in mind:

Focus on the positives

You have the power to control how you respond to having a different Christmas. Dwelling on the negatives will only make you feel worse. Instead, approach the situation with a positive mindset and a willingness to embrace all the different things about your new-look festive season and the opportunities it presents. 

Do something different 

Discovering new traditions and rituals over the festive season can be uplifting. So, make plans with friends and family and spend your time doing the things that bring you joy.

Perhaps, try something new; go on a trip, volunteer for the day, or arrange to meet friends.

Equally, let go of the annual traditions that you didn’t enjoy but felt obliged to do. This year you can rewrite the script. 

Break from the expected

Who says you have to celebrate Christmas Day on the 25th December? If you have children and they are with your ex this year, have your own Christmas on a different day. And do the works, the kids will love having a second Christmas Day, and you can celebrate with them.  

If you’re in a new relationship, but you cannot meet on Christmas Day, then have your day together as a couple later and enjoy the magic of two Christmas Days yourself. 

Take some time just for you

It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by the often chaotic run-up to Christmas. That’s why it’s important that you build in even more time just for you. You have been through a lot and and looking after yourself is a priority. Whether it’s catching up with loved ones, going to the gym, or pursuing your interests, dedicated time to do the things that make you tick will help you relax and recharge your batteries. 

Keep to your routine as much as possible

Routine is easily lost over the holidays, especially if you have time off work or you have children off school. Sticking to your normal routine where possible will help you feel more grounded and calm. If you can keep the basics going: eating well, regular sleep times, keeping up with exercise, plenty of fresh air and pockets of rest – everything else will follow. 

Put the children first

For those facing their first Christmas as a separated parent, it could be an opportunity to show your children (where possible and safe to do so) that you can still enjoy some time together as a whole family.

Plan and define a clear routine/split of time that works for the kids first, and then both parents. This will require compromise on both sides but will help you all adapt to, and hopefully enjoy, a new type of Christmas. 

Don’t worry it you don’t get it right first time. Re-establishing what Christmas looks like to you and your family can take time. 

Just remember to be kind to yourself and approach things with an open mind to help you make the most of this first Christmas since your separation.

Useful links

Tips for navigating Christmas alone from a divorce coach

Making arrangements for children this Christmas

Watch webinar – Surviving Christmas after separation

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Get in touch 

If you would like any advice on divorce, separation, or other family law issues, please do contact our Client Care Team to speak to one of our specialist divorce lawyers here. 


The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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