Spending Christmas away from home can be fun

  • Christmas
Published on 2016-12-23 at 14:00 by Maria Iotova
It is this time of the year again — the dispute over the Christmas tree, the endless shopping list, and Mariah Carey's hit in the background. But this year you are more of an observant than a participant in this hilarity. You are away from home — an expat in a foreign country — and when everything around you is about family and the people we love, you feel low and melancholic. Turn off your Facebook notifications (Facebook is argued to boost feelings of sadness and loneliness), and let us inspire you for a very merry Christmas away from home.

Celebrate the privilege to be where you are

Whether you are away from home for business, studies, retirement, or leisure, you are in a different country — and from an avid traveller's point of view, this is a gift. So, we suggest you make the most of it. Indulge into the local culture, join the traditional festivities, be curious, and approach the people. If you are spending Christmas in a country where Christmas has no meaning, take the time to visit an unexplored place — plan the road trip that you have been postponing for so long, or take your first diving lesson. But one thing is for sure, don't let it be an ordinary day that you will look back to it with regrets.

Organise an expats get together

The thought that you are not the only one celebrating Christmas away from home should bring some comfort. Get in touch with your expat network, and take the initiative to bring remaining expats together for a day full of joy and laughter — just like Christmas. Share food, exchange small gifts, play Christmas dance songs, and be grateful for the people who surround you.

Create the right ambiance

You like the country you live in at the moment, but it's nothing like home. You also miss the physical home environment — the Christmas decorations that are thoroughly unpacked every year, the smells from the kitchen, the views from the window. It would be a frivolous operation to try and recreate home abroad, but you can definitely add touches of warmth and coziness to your place. Of course, remember to enjoy the atmosphere that you have created! Sit back, think of the good things that the current country has generously given, and call your family back home. They are also sad for not being with you, so you will bring laughter by showing that you are coping well, and are making some good effort to stay merry — even if your tree is leaning, and half of the lights don't light up.

Celebrate Christmas for what it really is

Being away from family and friends means a smaller shopping list and less time queuing in the malls — especially if the postal service where you are is dreadful. But that's a great opportunity to recognise Christmas for what it is — a day of appreciation, love, and sharing. Find causes you would like to support or organisations in your area, and donate or volunteer. You can even organise your small humanitarian project with other expats via social media. Forget posting big presents, but focus instead on meanings and emotions — send cards and pictures (yes, paper, tangible ones) or handmade gifts.

Defer the celebrations' dates

Okay, sometimes it happens — Santa Claus doesn't make it all the way around the world in one go. But he always keeps his promises, and you will have your present delivered (just a bit later). Choose something to be looking forward to you while the world is celebrating Christmas without you. Maybe arrange a family visit for early next year, or take the chance to visit closeby destinations before you relocate again and they drop off your radar. You didn't get the Christmas present on time, but it doesn't mean that you cannot have it later.

Whatever you decide to do this Christmas, make sure you have an unforgettable one! You deserve better than withdrawing and watching TV series on Netflix — save this for the whole of next year.