The holidays are coming and you’re a couple thousand miles away from home and it doesn’t look like you’ll be able to make it home this year. The stores are filled with joyful holiday music celebrating family time and it has you feeling a little bummed out. While living abroad, I found myself in this exact situation and instead of dwelling on it too much, I decided to embrace it. I threw myself wholeheartedly into having a great holiday, surrounded by the family I did have – my expat friends from all corners of the world.
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Here are a few things I did to help me keep my mind off missing my family and I present to you: How to Celebrate the Holidays Away from Home.
Participate in the local traditional holiday activities
I went to a Hungarian friend’s house for the lighting of an advent candle, a Hungarian tradition. I looked for Szent Mikulás on St. Nicholas Day. I visited the various Christmas markets took in the atmosphere and drank some mulled wine. There is no better way of getting into the holiday spirit.
Celebrate with friends
They essentially become family to you while you’re away from home. My friends and I organized a Christmas party and secret Santa gift exchange. We didn’t have a tree, so we made one out of some cardboard, and paint. Creativity at its best and it worked.
The evening was filled with delicious food from around the world, silly games, opening of presents and lots and lots of laughter. Despite no longer all being in the same city, we’re doing the same thing again, only going international. We’re all in different parts of the world now and we’ll be doing a international gift exchange virtually.
On Christmas day, my flatmate and I opened our flat to our friends who were still in Budapest for a Christmas dinner. No turkey, but a roast chicken did the trick. You’ll almost feel like you’re at home when surrounded by great friends and sharing a meal together.
Connect with home virtually
With technology these days, your family is only a few clicks of the mouse away. Both Google and Skype offer the ability to call from computer to computer. It is really easy to share in a little holiday cheer with friends and family back home. In the weeks leading up to the holidays, ask friends for their mailing addresses so you can send them a holiday card. Who doesn’t like receiving snail mail now—especially one with an exotic stamp and card in a different language?
And if none of these things seem exciting, you can always travel over the holidays. While many countries in Europe shut down over Christmas, you could head to countries who don’t celebrate it. If you are staying in Europe then just be prepared for a couple quiet days and schedule outdoor sites to visit during this time. With the excitement of exploring a new country and city, you won’t miss being at home for too long.
Are you away from home for the holidays? How are you celebrating?