Christmas can be a hard time if you are living away from your family and friends, and this year means that many people who would typically go home for Christmas, aren’t able to. So if this your first Christmas abroad – or just away from your family, read on for some tips (from someone who is about to have her 8th Christmas abroad!)
- Start your own tradition
When you’re away for Christmas, it can be tempting to try and re-create your family Christmas, but in my opinion that’s just setting yourself up for failure. You are missing a key ingredient – your family, so no matter how hard you try to re-create your family’s traditions, it won’t be the same.
Instead, why not use this opportunity to come up with some fun new traditions that you can incorporate into your Christmas? Take some pieces from your Christmas celebrations at home, and add your own twist! Myself and my husband do the full Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, even though it’s just us two, and we get Christmas crackers because that’s a tradition I love. Some new things we’ve introduced is that we do mimosas on Christmas morning to get the day started, and we have oysters for our starter – followed by scallops because we love seafood! We also make mulled wine, and in a normal non-pandemic year, we have a Christmas party in our place the week before Christmas with all our friends. These are our little traditions and we love them!
- Talk to your family and friends at home
Make time on Christmas day to talk to your family. This can be hard if there is a time difference at play, plus everyone is busy with all the cooking they are doing for the day. But it’s really nice to talk to your family on the day. You might find it emotional too, especially if this is your first Christmas not with your family, but that’s ok, let those emotions out!
- Do as the locals do
If you are abroad, think about how the local people in that country celebrate Christmas (if Christmas is celebrated). Maybe they do something unique or different, and that can be a great opportunity to learn something about your new home and incorporate a new tradition. For example there is a Santa Claus parade in Toronto (not this year though) which was something totally new for me. If you’re in Australia, consider heading to the beach on Christmas day in true Aussie fashion (even though it might feel very strange to be on a beach for Christmas). So many different countries celebrate Christmas in different ways, it can be a lot of fun to do as the locals do!
- Treat Yourself
This is the most wonderful time of the year, and if it’s your first Christmas away from home, you are no doubt feeling emotional and upset. Be kind to yourself, treat yourself with something nice, allow yourself to relax and allow yourself to feel all your feelings. Even though I’ve spent many Christmas’ away from home now, I still always get homesick around this time of year, and listening to Fairytale of New York makes me cry every time. And that’s ok. Acknowledge your feelings, and don’t try and force yourself to feel excited if that really isn’t how you’re feeling. I would encourage you to try and find some way to enjoy the day, but also think it’s important not to engage in toxic positivity at this time of year. Also, don’t get sucked into diet culture and start feeling bad about eating and drinking so much. It’s Christmas you eat and drink what the hell you like. We’ve all just experienced an immensely stressful year, so if you want that extra slice of cake, or you want to eat all of the cake, I support this!
- Celebrate with others in the same position as you
Do you have other friends that also can’t make it up? Perhaps you can join forces and celebrate together. Obviously,this year makes that difficult because many places have guidelines in place advising not to socialize with people outside your household. However, if you live alone, you are allowed to combine with another household so that you don’t have to be totally alone on Christmas. Maybe you can do a socially distanced garden visit with your friends who also aren’t seeing family this year, on Christmas eve or even Christmas night. Make sure you check up on any friends who are alone as this is a very difficult time of year.
- Try and find some positives
Although you may be feeling down – and that is totally valid, there is probably at least one positive to the way you’re celebrating Christmas this year? Maybe it means you get to have a very low key Christmas that is relaxing and all about you? That sounds pretty great to me! Again, I’m not saying to force yourself to be happy about the situation you’re in this year, but I’m willing to bet you can find a couple of positives!
- Travel locally
Maybe do something completely different and don’t stay at home for Christmas and travel somewhere nearby (if you’re not in lockdown). The hotel and hospitality industry as a whole has been suffering majorly this year, so if you’re up for something new, why not help them out? Go and stay in a hotel and treat yourself to Christmas dinner there. Many hotels have some great specials on at the moment. I stayed in some hotels during the pandemic and I have to say I felt so safe in all of them. They are all taking Covid very seriously and have excellent measures in place, enhanced cleaning etc. So, if you aren’t in a lockdown situation, why not consider releasing yourself of all Christmas duties and letting some professionals cook for you?!
- Do a fun countdown to Christmas day
We’ve all heard of advent calendars, so why not create your own version and do a Christmas countdown that will cheer you up? I do a wine calendar every year! I create a calendar for December and fill it with 12 bottles of wine, and then every second day in December, I am trying a new wine. It’s really fun and for me, it’s a great excuse to try all these new wines. You can create your own kind of countdown calendar with anything in it that you love. Try it, it makes the whole month of December more fun! If you don’t want to do a whole month countdown, there’s one week to go so that could be the perfect countdown!
All in all, it will be a very different Christmas for many people this year, but I hope you manage to enjoy it in some shape or form!
Until next time 🙂