It might be the season of goodwill and a time of celebration, but Christmas can also be hard for those who are on their own. Beth Collingridge shares some easy ways we can make sure everyone enjoys the festive season


Source: cottonbro studio:

Christmas can be the hardest time of year for single people of all ages. That’s what Single Friendly Church Network discovered when they ran a survey last year on single people’s experiences of church at Christmas. We found that 70 per cent of respondents struggled with at least some aspects of the festive season.

A season that should be about warmth and welcome can become isolating when churches shut down for the holidays and families focus inwards to spend time together.

But there are practical things that we can all do to help make Christmas a joyful and inclusive experience for everyone. Here’s some ideas:

1. Find out who might be on their own

Lots of people don’t have someone to spend Christmas with. Ask around and you may be surprised - younger people (such as students) or single parents spending the day without their children often get missed out. The key to supporting them is knowing their stories and asking what they need.

2. Welcome others in

Many single people feel that ‘church family’ doesn’t seem to apply to Christmas. Those without relatives or away from their family and close friends can feel extremely isolated. Single parents without a support system can also feel overwhelmed trying to make Christmas happen all by themselves.

70 per cent of respondents struggled with at least some aspects of Christmas

But this doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Could you invite someone to join you for one of your celebrations or activities? Some churches host a community lunch, or connect people officially. Invitations don’t have to be for Christmas Day itself - you could invite someone for evening drinks or a Boxing Day walk too. Not everyone will accept, but they will likely appreciate the thought.

3. Be inclusive in your services

Christmas is a season of great joy – but it can also be painful for many people for all sorts of reasons. Some single people find the focus on families and children difficult, or feel alone in church when others are sat with their extended families.

It’s important to acknowledge the pain of Christmas in the prayers offered in church and the talk given. Try to look out for those attending Christmas services on their own and make an effort to welcome and include them. Sharing the Peace is about welcoming people in, so turn to someone you don’t know first before greeting your family or close friends.

For those involved in organising church services, it can help to take different approaches for different events. You may need a family approach to a crib service, but consider a broader, more spiritual focus for midnight communion or carol services. Be aware of asking children what presents they received on Christmas morning. As well as being hard for those without children, it often exposes differences in wealth very starkly.

4. Encourage social activities over the Christmas week

Often people will have plans for Christmas Day, but the week between Christmas and New Year can be a very lonely time. Activities do not always have to be organised by the church leadership – empower those who desire social opportunities to be part of the solution. Encourage meet ups like a walk, games night or coffee morning with mince pies. Invite someone you know who may be feeling isolated at this time, or pay them a visit. It could mean so much.

5. Remember the true meaning of Christmas

Secular Christmas celebrations often focus on families – but that shouldn’t be what churches do. Jesus was born for everyone, including the stranger, the lonely and the hurting.

There are many Bible characters outside of the holy family who were profoundly changed by the coming of Christ. Focussing on the stories of Anna and Simeon, who found joy and fulfilment in encountering the baby Jesus, or the shepherds outside Bethlehem who were welcomed into the mystery of Jesus’ birth that night offers a deeper perspective.

Simply focussing on the good news of what Christmas actually meant for those in the Bible – and what it means for us today – can have a profound impact for all.

Read Emily Beater’s experience of coming to Christ as a young, single mum

Single Friendly Church Network want to see all churches become places where single people are welcome and valued. For more ideas and resources for churches at Christmas and all-year round, visit