Christmas and New Year 2023
Christmas and New Year FAQs
Have a look at the FAQs that our advisers have asked about the festive break
Everyone at OPFS wishes you and your family all the best for Christmas and 2023.
Here are details of when our services will be closed over the festive period. Contact details for each of our services can be found in links below.
- Edinburgh and HQ – Will close on Friday 23 December and re-open on Wednesday 4 January 2023.
- Helpline and webchat – Will be closed from 1pm on Friday 23 December until Wednesday 4 January 2023.
- Glasgow – Will close on Thursday 22 December and re-open on Wednesday 4 January 2023.
- Dundee – Will be closed Friday 23 December and re-open Wednesday 4 January 2023.
- Falkirk – Will be closed Friday 23 Dec and re-open on Monday 9 January 2023.
- North Lanarkshire – Will close on Thursday 22 December and re-open on Wednesday 4 January 2023
While OPFS are closed for the festive period, you can make use of our new online forum. The more parents that make use of this new service, the more peer support that will be available to single parents like you. You can use our forum to share tips and ideas for Christmas, have a rant, reach out if you’re feeling lonely etc. If there’s anything else you would like to see on this page for future Christmas updates you could share it with other parents on the forum.
Christmas topics that single parents ask us about...
First Christmas as a single parent
You could be feeling relieved, lonely, excited, or overwhelmed at the thought of your first Christmas as a single parent. Acknowledge that things will likely be different, and you cannot do the job of two parents.
- Think about the things that will be important for your children to feel consistent, especially if they need support to feel safe, secure and loved due to changes.
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be super mum or dad. Your children will be happy spending time with you.
- Create new traditions, to make the time you have with your children special.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you have friends or family. Maybe you could have Christmas with another single-parent family to share the work, and for the children to play together.
- If your children will be spending time with other family, plan ahead with arrangements. See ‘child contact’ section below.
- Remember self-care is important, especially if you will be spending time without your children. We have some tips below about time without your children at Christmas.
- If you have recently bereaved, there is support and advice available from WAY (Widowed and Young) and Cruse.
Christmas without your children
Some parents have told us that they feel lonely and miss their children so much during the time they’re with other family that they’re not able to relax and enjoy the time to themselves. This is understandable, especially if this is the first Christmas you’ve been separated, but it is important to look after yourself.
Try to stay positive and encouraging to your children about spending time with their other parent. Avoid telling them you are going to be lonely or upset without them and saying how much you will miss them. Instead focus on looking forward to what you are going to do together when you will see them again.
Check out ‘My Life and Me’, our online single parent wellbeing resource, with tips and support for self-care, including how to cope with feeling anxious or lonely.
Try to spin it as an an opportunity to do whatever you feel like doing for yourself, such as;
- Watch a film, relax in the bath, or pamper yourself.
- Meet up with friends, or if they live too far away arrange a time to chat.
- Get dressed up in your favourite outfit, or you might prefer to have a relaxed and fun pyjama day.
- Find new people to talk to or spend time with, There are websites such as meetup.com that you can search for groups in your area with similar interests.
- Go for a run, or do some exercise.
- Reignite an old hobby, or something you enjoy but don’t usually have time for.
- Chat online with other parents on forums such as our new forum for single parents, Netmums, Mumsnet or Dads Forum.
- Some people find having time to themselves looking at social media a good way to relax.
- Volunteer in your local community, find opportunities via Volunteer Scotland or check with local organisations.
- Enjoy having a long lie.
- Some parents have told us they like having the time to clean and tidy their house when their children are not there.
Different people find different things work best for them and their family – you’re the expert of yourself. Most importantly, try to relax and enjoy your child free time.
- Set a budget and stick to it. Look at your finances and decide what you can afford to spend. Don’t forget to factor in the extra you may need for food, fuel, phones, social events and travel.
- We have information about budget planning, dealing with debt and money worries on our website.
- Don’t put yourself under pressure to buy more than you can afford. The memories you create and fun you have together on the day will be remembered more by your children than the gifts they receive.
- The Scottish Government has announced funding to support low-income families over the Christmas and Spring holidays. Find out more about the Winter Support Fund.
- Christmas 2023 may be the last thing on your mind but it’s a good idea to start saving now for next year.
- Look out for bargains and discount codes which can be found by Googling the name of the gift you’re looking to buy or the shop you want to use followed by ‘discount code’. Subscribing to your favourite shops’ email list will notify you of any sales or discounts.
- Lots of supermarkets have loyalty cards that you can redeem to buy gifts including experiences and magazine subscriptions not directly linked to the shop.
- Kidstart is linked to many big shops and offers discounts and special deals to members while also donating a small % of what you spend either to your kids’ savings account or a charity of your choice.
- If you have any generous friends or family asking for gift suggestions for your kids, you might want to consider gifts that would help you spend less, such as clothes, cinema tickets, sports equipment, subscriptions or things they need for their favourite hobbies.
- Our helpline advisors have answered some of their FAQ’s about family finances which might be useful for you.
- If you are struggling you could speak to your housing officer if you have one, look out for local services and charities offering help in your area or contact us on local Facebook pages, community centres and churches.
- Using the ‘scan as you shop’ or ordering online could help you keep track of your spending and stay within your budget.
- If it’s too expensive or time consuming to make a traditional Christmas dinner, why not change it to something that suits you and your family.
- If you are eating with family or friends, ask visitors to bring some food to contribute to the meal so that you do not have to buy and cook everything yourself.
- If you are struggling to buy food over the holidays you can get help from your local food bank. You may have to be referred by your local Jobcentre Plus or Citizens Advice Bureau but contact the foodbank directly for more details.
- Help do your bit for the environment by tackling food waste and getting yourself a bargain from major supermarkets via Too Good To Go app.
- Find your local food pantry for community led quality food available for a reduced fee.
- Check notice boards in your local area, and Facebook community groups for food initiatives in your area such as Urban Roots in Glasgow. Some community organisations and churches organise free Christmas meals for people to come together and eat, which you could attend or volunteer at.
- If your children usually spend time with their other parent, try to agree how this can work best for everyone during the holidays. If you do not have a court Order regarding contact arrangements, you might like to create a ‘parenting plan’. Scottish Government has a guide on how you can make a parenting plan.
- If your children are old enough to express their views, encourage them to say how they would like to spend their school holidays, and who they would like to spend time with.
- If you are concerned about the safety of your child when they are with their other parent or worry that they may not be returned after a visit, get specialist advice. Our advice pages on child contact might be helpful, including our page on what to do when contact arrangements aren’t working.
- If you’re concerned about your child not returning from another country contact a service like Reunite International for advice.
- If you do not have a lawyer and would like some free, impartial legal advice you can contact Scottish Child Law Centre. They will not be able to go into details of your case but they will give you guidance and information of legal rights for you and your child(ren).
Benefit payment dates over Christmas
You could receive your Universal Credit or benefit payments early over the Christmas period if you are due to be paid on a public holiday.
|When your payment is due||When Universal Credit will be paid||When Tax Credits and other benefits will be paid|
|Monday 26th December||Friday 23rd December||Friday 23rd December|
|Tuesday 27th December||Friday 23rd December||Friday 23rd December|
|Wednesday 28th December||Wednesday 28th December||Friday 23rd December|
|Monday 2nd January||Friday 30th December||Friday 30th December|
|Tuesday 3rd January||Tuesday 3rd January||Friday 30th December|
- Arrange any extra childcare needed for over the holiday period well in advance.
- If your childcare costs increase a lot during the holidays you may be entitled to extra working tax or universal credit. Contact HMRC report this change for tax credits or, if you get universal credit, report it on your online account.
- If you are in immediate danger call 999.
- For health advice when your GP and dentist is closed call NHS 24 on 111.
- For personal crisis support, call the Samaritans on 116 123.
- If you are feeling low or depressed call Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87.
- If you are, or have been, affected by domestic abuse, call the Domestic abuse and forced marriage helpline on 0808 2000 247 or find your nearest Women’s Aid service here.
- For housing issues, contact Shelter on 0808 800 4444 or webchat.