Spending Christmas morning without family, friends or a significant other may sound like a lonely, miserable prospect – but don't fret. There are a few creative ways to either avoid celebrating solo or to embrace the change of pace this holiday season.

There are plenty of reasons to spend the holidays alone. Maybe you can't afford a plane ticket home. Maybe your nearest and dearest have abandoned you for a sunny all-inclusive vacation in Mexico (those jerks). Whatever the case, these tips will help minimize the damage.

Tip #1: No early present opening

It's every child's fantasy come true: your presents – be they from a care package from back home or a few friendly gift-swaps – are at your fingertips. You could open every one on Dec. 14th and no one would be the wiser. Don't. A few surprises will make Christmas morning that much more bearable.

Tip #2: Stock up

Nothing ruins the mood like a lack of festive foods, drinks and entertainment. Pick up some mouth-watering treats from your local bakery, a carton of egg nog from the corner store and have a few beloved holiday DVDs on hand at all times. The first Die Hard is a personal favourite; watch as John McClane taunts the terrorists by tying one of their cohorts to a chair wearing a Santa hat and bearing the message: "Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho." Classic.

Side note: If you're renting, pick up your films early – unless you're in the mood for Home Alone 3.

Tip #3: Find other holiday loners

Finding a few equally lonesome acquaintances could help you go from moody to merry in no time flat. Spend Christmas Day going to the cinema, grabbing a few drinks or putting together an impromptu potluck. Choose your company carefully, though – you don't want a bunch of self-pitying party poopers bringing you down on Christmas.

Tip #4: Volunteer your time

There are dozens of community centres, shelters and soup kitchens that can use extra help around the holidays – and spending a few hours chipping in for the less fortunate could put you right back in the holiday spirit. This late in the game you're not likely to score an easy job ladling out gravy on Christmas Day, but there are plenty of important tasks to do. Contact the Union Gospel Mission, the Salvation Army, or visit GoVolunteer.ca to apply.

Tip #5: Set up a video chat

You may be 4,000 kilometres from home, but you can always fake it. Setting up a short video chat with your family is a great way to enjoy your own virtual Christmas. Just don't drag it out – once the novelty wears off, watching your little sister open presents on a grainy computer screen will only make you more homesick.

Tip #6: Be wary of pity invitations

An invitation to spend Christmas Day with a friend's family may seem like the perfect solution to your holiday woes, but you have to be careful. Sure, the food's probably great – they may even buy you a consolation gift – but if you're not completely comfortable you could feel like a third wheel all night. You'll have to go with your gut on this one.

If you do decide to bite the bullet, bring a small gift and a bottle of wine – and give them a heads up about any vegan diet restrictions as soon as humanly possible.