I get involved in the convention. I joined staff this year for Kumoricon and go to the monthly meetings. It helps fill that gap.
My friends and I have started monthly photoshoots as well which is great. It motivates me to get costumes done and I get to see my friends.
Like people have said, I get planing and working as well. I've started a few costumes now for next Kumoricon (which is at the end of summer). My friend and I are also working on our skit now so we don't have to rush.
Newcon 2013 (Portland OR):
Sylveon - Pokemon: 50%
Akihito Kanbara (Idol) - Kyoukai no Kanata: 5%
Eren Jaeger - Attack on Titan: 10%
Sakuracon 2014 (Seattle WA):
The Hooded Man - Final Fantasy 4: The After Years: 0%
Yuuka Kazami - Touhou Project: 0%
Witch Elly - Puella Magi Madoka Magica: 0