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Bookish Ways to Combat the Holiday Blues

Emma Nichols

Staff Writer

Emma Nichols is a career bookseller. Though she expected to grow up to be a librarian, or a witch, she's quite happy with how things are working out. Officially, she specializes in children's books and manages their book fairs; unofficially, she is passionate about short stories and spreadsheets. When not evangelizing her favorite books to unsuspecting customers, she can be heard discussing books and bookselling on her podcast Drunk Booksellers. Her other hobbies include organizing her books, taking pictures of her cat, and binge-re-watching her favorite TV shows. Blog: The Bibliot Twitter: @thebibliot

This Christmas, for the first time, I will not be spending the holidays with the rest of my family. This has been difficult to come to terms with—to say the least—and I worry, as the holidays approach, about feeling depressed in the face of all this Christmas cheer.


I’m sure plenty of you out there are going through the same thing, so I thought a list of bookish suggestions to combat the holiday blues might help us both.

Get Crafty

Making your own bookish decorations for Christmas serves the double purpose of being a nice distraction and adding some Christmas cheer to your home. Have you tried searching Pinterest for DIY bookish ornaments? Do it. But I’d set a timer if I were you, otherwise you might lose yourself in wonderful craft ideas, look up, notice the sun has gone down, and find your tree is still bare. My two favorites (due to theme, ease, and loveliness) are these Harry Potter book covers and potions ornaments.


If  you’d rather not have an ever-present reminder of the holiday, there are still plenty of bookish crafts to occupy you.

Give Back to Your Community

My mom’s first suggestion for getting through the holidays without each other was volunteer work. Besides being a kind thing to do, helping others can distract from your personal issues and give you a warm fuzzy feeling. And there are so many bookish volunteer opportunities out there. Check in with local libraries, hospitals, shelters, retirement homes etc. for programs where you can volunteer to be a reading companion. There are also plenty of bookish organizations that you can volunteer with like Reach Out and Read, The Book Bus, and Room to Read. is a great website for finding volunteer opportunities near you.

No time to volunteer? No problem. There seems to be an unlimited number of organizations that benefit from the gift of books. For example, you can send books abroadto kids, to American soldiers, or to women in prison. I especially like Project Night Night, where you can donate books, blankets, and stuffed animals to homeless children.

If you want to get more local with your donations, plenty of local and state libraries accept donations. Check out this useful guide to library book donations and/or call up your local library for more info. You can also visit your local Barnes & Noble and contribute to their holiday book drive.

If you want to get hyper local, consider building a Little Free Library—check out their website on how to start one and this Book Riot post with tips on running one. Or just buy a few copies of your favorite book and leave it with a little bow and note in various public places for fellow readers to find and fall in love with.

No books and/or time to mail out donations? During the holidays, Penguin Random House works with the organization First Book on the #GiveaBook campaign. Every $3 donated can provide a book to a child in need and will be matched with two additional books provided by Penguin Random House.


I’m starting to wonder if I should have written a post just about bookish ways of giving—but wait, there already is one! Check out this Book Riot post for even more bookish ways to be a do-gooder.

Create New Traditions With the Community You’ve Got

Though I’m not spending the holidays with my family, I’m lucky enough to be spending it with my partner. Inspired by the awesome and bookish people of Iceland, we’ll be exchanging books on Christmas Eve and spending some time just reading together. My book group also had the wonderful idea of doing a bookish Secret Santa and exchanging books at our next meeting, which is happening just before the holiday.

I also plan on inviting fellow friends and co-workers—those who also aren’t able to make it home for the holidays—over to celebrate on Christmas Day. I think the best thing to do, for an extrovert like myself, is avoid being alone that day. I might even pull out a copy of A Christmas Carol or better yet Holidays On Ice by David Sedaris to read aloud. Or maybe some bookish board games? I mostly hang with booksellers, so I think they’ll be down. Fellow Rioter Kate Scott has even more suggestions for Christmas Eve traditions you can start with or without your family.


When All Else Fails… Get Toasty

So you don’t have time/money/ability to donate or give back, aren’t in the least crafty, and have absolutely no people to spend time with this season? Here’s what I suggest: Find a cafe or bar near you that has comfy chairs—a fireplace would be a huge plus too, but at the very least make sure it’s cozy. Grab a book—holiday-themed if you’re into that, but we’ve got plenty of other recommendations if you’re not. Order a warm drink (I like adult eggnog, but you do you). Pick a spot and settle in for a nice long read. When all else fails, books always manage to make me feel less alone.


If you have holiday survival tips, bookish charities you support, crafts you love, or just funny/heartwarming book suggestions to help us through this holiday season I’d love to hear them.