I’ve received a lot of email from single ladies in the last two weeks, wondering what to do for the holidays. It’s that time of year when everyone seems to be coupled up, and if you’re without an official significant other, this time of year can feel like a raised eyebrow directed specifically at you.

You endure endless images of happy couples enjoying their celebrations, as well as inevitable questions from relatives who inquire, “When are you getting married?” Most awkward of all is having to ask the guy you’re dating whether the two of you are spending the holidays together. His answer provides the ultimate clarity of what you mean — or don’t — to him.

It’s enough to want to make a single woman want to hide under the covers and ignore the whole season. But don’t, especially when you have options that you might not have explored.

In my dating column, “Celebrating Solo” for the December issue of ESSENCE, I interviewed women who chose to make the most of the holiday season by going it alone.

Christine Pendleton bypassed Thanksgiving in Columbus, Georgia and headed to Spain where she became a volunteer for Pueblo Ingles, a program that helps Spanish-speaking people with their conversational English.

Heather Joy Thompson was stationed overseas in Johannesburg and couldn’t get enough time off to make it home to Alabama for Thanksgiving. She invited her girls to join her in Cape Town, South Africa. She and friends spent the day driving along the coast, blaring DeBarge and Mariah Carey tunes, belting them out loud and off-key. She’s headed home this year, but says, “I wouldn’t trade my South African holiday for all the sweet potato pie in the world.”

Tracey Coleman couldn’t make it home to Atlanta for Christmas because of a winter storm, so she headed to a local park and wound up sledding down the hills with strangers. She called it, “the most random day of fun I had all winter.” She even plans to buy a sled this year.

If it’s not in the budget to book a trip, Michelle Callahan, PhD, and author of “Ms. Typed: Stop Sabotaging Your Relationships and Find Dating Success,” suggests taking advantage of your downtime by creating a vision board, doing a life assessment that helps you set new goals, or just taking time out to do that thing, whatever it is, that you’ve been putting off.

Last year was exhausting and I just couldn’t deal with the hassle of holiday travel. I skipped heading home to Maryland (much to my parents’ chagrin) and hosted a brunch at my house for fifty friends the week before Christmas, just to get a taste of the holiday spirit. On Christmas day I took the subway from Brooklyn to Harlem (by train, it’s the equivalent of a decent road trip) to unwind on my bestie’s couch. We ate greasy Chinese takeout, sipped expensive champagne from paper cups and watched “The Wire.” Unconventional? Of course. Doing it my way? Priceless.

Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk

Loading the player...