For some, the holidays are the most wonderful time of year. For others, especially those facing a Christmas alone, it can be a lesson in just how slow time can tick.
Perhaps it was a recent divorce or break-up that led you to postpone getaway plans in hope of a holiday reconciliation that never came to fruition. Perhaps financial restraints didn't allow you to book that exorbitant airline ticket home. Or maybe you just couldn't face another holiday dinner of "So, when are you going to settle down?" or "Are you seeing anyone special?"
Rather than buckling down and facing those excruciating hours alone between sundown on Dec. 24 and sunrise on Dec. 26 when stores are closed, "Jingle Bells" blares and even city life grinds to a halt, here are our top last-minute ways to spend a solo Christmas Day.
Spending Christmas alone doesn't have to mean you'll be lonely.
$10 Hollywood Therapy
Where: Anytown, America.
Become part of Brangelina, if only for a day.
So you're broke and alone for the holidays? Regardless if you're in Small Town, America, or in the center of Manhattan, the one place that doesn't close for Christmas is the movie theater. In fact, Christmas Day is one of the top openings for Hollywood blockbusters and the unofficial kick-off of the awards season. This year's hotly awaited films include "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, and Tom Cruise's "Valkyrie." They're best enjoyed with a holiday meal of Milk Duds, popcorn and a 32-ounce Pepsi.
Expunge Christmas Down Under
Where: Sydney, Australia.
Long-haul flights that erase the holiday completely.
Pricey escapism comes in form of an airline ticket with a Christmas Eve take-off to faraway destinations like Australia. Offering new service on the uber-quiet, two-story A-380,
presents a Christmas Eve flight from L.A. or NYC that will erase Christmas Day altogether while putting you on Sydney's Circular Quay in time for the Boxing Day sales. While the flight offers holiday reminders like a Christmas dinner and the occasional Santa hat, true Grinches can book into one of the First Suites designed by Marc Newson, which have wood veneer walls that allow you to shut out everyone but the perky flight attendant telling you, "Please stow away that tray table for landing."
The Big City Retreat
Where: L.A. or N.Y., USA.
Holiday room service and spa therapy.
Get thee to Expedia. Even in the most expensive hotel cities, like L.A. and NYC, we were able to book a Christmas Eve room for under $300 (before taxes and fees) at newly renovated
on Central Park as well as
on L.A.'s Sunset Strip. The beauty of these properties is their on-site spas and fitness centers that will keep you well pampered and uber-fit, while everyone else is unwrapping gifts and stuffing themselves full of ham and roast beast. The on-site restaurants offer holiday room service that will allow you to handpick your holiday feast with an incredibly festive view of the city.
Christmas in Rio
Where: Marina All-Suites, Rio, Brazil.
Sexy beach bodies and unidentifiable Portuguese holiday music.
Don't plan on leaving until Christmas Eve, whatever you do, so the toughest holiday hours are spent at 30,000 feet. You'll arrive in Rio around 10 a.m. on Christmas Day, where a private car will whisk you away to Marina All-Suites, a lively boutique hotel that offers apartment-style suites directly on Leblon Beach. The frill-free lobby and Hotel du Bar restaurant will allow you to drink your weight in caipirihnas and then hit the beach to tan away any insecurities about spending the holiday alone. Best of all, Christmas songs like "Noite Feliz," aka "Silent Night," sung in Portuguese are unrecognizable to foreign ears.
The Canadian Ski Christmas
Expatriate ski instructors that party all holiday long.
Four Seasons Whistler offers a rate of C$895 for rooms that don't require a three-night minimum. Additionally, the ski school at Whistler Blackcomb offers one-on-one lessons for Christmas Day that will allow you to explore the back bowls and secret chutes of the mountains with a ski or snowboard instructor with a sexy foreign accent. With many of the ski staff imported from overseas, most are alone during the season and will know the best singles places to hang out and dance the night away. If they like you enough, they may even invite you along to their après-ski or local hangout.
The Christmas Samaritan
Find holiday comfort in helping others less fortunate.
Regardless of where you are in life, solace can be found in helping others, especially on Christmas Day. An often-overlooked segment of the population includes seniors left alone in hospice care and nursing homes during the holidays. Rather than chase your blues away with overpriced holidays, a call to a local nursing home or online sites like Volunteer Match will put you in touch with homes in your area that will have you reading, singing or just reminiscing with someone who would otherwise be alone for what could be the final Christmas.
Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com, a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.