When you're a kid, the period between Halloween and New Year's is a special time. In addition to two major holidays, most families have multiple traditions that span across two months, such as football games, Christmas parties, service projects and more.

Once you move away from home, though, taking part in each activity and tradition isn't as much of a priority. Or, maybe, you simply live too far away to make it home for every little event.

The first few holidays away from home can be a bummer, but it's also a great time to try new things and start new traditions. If you ever find yourself away from family for all or most of the holiday season, perhaps the following suggestions will add some cheer to the end of the year.

Take part in local celebrations

Just like each family has holiday traditions, so does each town and city. Maybe your local theater puts on a good production of the Christmas Carol every year, or does a citywide sub-for-Santa. Churches also have plenty going on during the holidays. Try to participate in as many activities as you can. Not only is this a great way to meet new people, but it also helps make your new home feel more like home.

Celebrate with friends

Who says the holidays should be all about family? Thanksgiving and Christmas can be just as special with friends who live nearby. Like you, they may also wish they could be home for the holidays, but banding together during this special time of year can create strong bonds of friendship.

Start your own traditions

Traditions are harder to establish when you're living with roommates, who tend to come and go fairly often, but it's well worth the effort. Something as simple as finding a small Christmas tree and a string of lights to brighten up your home can go a long way in getting you in the holiday spirit. Try some new recipes and share the finished product with your neighbors. Have a gift exchange with your roommates. Go caroling. Don't just sit at home thinking about what you would be doing if you were with your family. Do something fun.

Serve others

Service is basically the cure-all for anyone who feels like they are missing something in life. Service opportunities are all over the place during the holidays, so get involved. It'll give you something to do, take your mind off your own troubles and bless someone else's life. You can't go wrong with service, no matter what kind it is, or what time of year you serve.

Stay in touch

Sure, the above suggestions will make your holidays better, but sometimes you just want to be with family. That's what email, cell phones and video conferencing were invented for. These tools don't replace the face-to-face encounters you crave, but they keep you together all the same. Make a special effort during the holidays to send emails and texts to family members or to schedule Skype dates. Get involved with what is going on around you, but don't sever family ties that don't need to be severed.

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