Ah, the holidays: A time to reconnect with family, give selflessly to others ... and withstand the flood of ads depicting couples cuddling by the fire as they swap diamond bracelets and luxury car keys.

Instead of feeling down on yourself the next time Grandma asks you when you are going to give her great grandchildre


n, why not focus on why it's sweet to be single over the holidays?


When you're single, you don't have to agonize over picking out that perfect, relationship-stage-appropriate gift, feel guilty because your boyfriend got you a watch when you got him socks (or -- the horror -- vice-versa) or put on a fake smile as you wear that oversized wool sweater he bought you that makes you feel like an itchy blob.

2. No Trade-Offs

You don't have to fight over where to spend the holidays. Miss the sister you never see? Want more time with Mom and Dad, especially now that they're getting older? Instead of splitting your days off between a partner's family and yours, you can focus on reconnecting with the people who raised you.

3. Travel To A Place You Actually Want To Visit

Instead of spending your hard-earned cash on a trip to Florida to visit the in-laws, take that travel money (and the money you would have spent on gift and dinners and little things in between) and spend it on travel with friends. I have a group of friends who visit a different country together every winter and they love it.

If you can't splurge on airfare, consider a more local road trip. Have friends from Portland, Annapolis, Savannah or Santa Fe? The holidays might be a good time to pay them a visit.

4. No Waiting For Santa

Instead of dropping hints to get that gift you've been eyeing, you can get it yourself, especially since you don't have to spend money on a gift for your partner. Bonus: that new iPad or pair of earrings will never remind you of an ex.

5. It's Your Party And You'll Invite Who You Want To

In addition to all of the holiday parties you'll be attending, this is a great time to host your own. You can invite your favorite people (no need to worry about his friends getting along with yours), have them bring guests, meet new people and flirt with abandon.

6. You Can Listen And Sing Along To All The Mariah Carey/Bing Crosby/Cheesy Holiday Music You Want

Admit it. Belting out "All I Want For Christmas" is one of the more satisfying parts of the holidays. This year you don't have to worry about anyone groaning or turning down the volume.

7. No Parents To Impress!

Instead of worrying about what his parents or sister will think of you, you can skip the holiday superwoman routine and enjoy being yourself. This is a chance to spend time with your family and friends, the people who already know and love the real you.

8. Use Your Time To Take On More Important Things

There are people in the world who have more to worry about than finding a date to your boss' Christmas party. Look up volunteer opportunities in your area and spend the holidays bringing cheer to those who really need it.