How to enjoy Christmas when you are thousands of miles away from home.

“Christmas – it’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

But is it as an expat?! Truth be told, I was dreading Christmas abroad. In general I was so busy doing fun stuff in the first few months of living in Australia that there really wasn’t much time to get homesick. But as the Christmas songs started playing on the radio and the supermarkets filled with Christmas crackers (from November… really?!) a touch of nostalgia started to creep in!

It wasn’t just me, my ex boyfriend who I went to Australia with absolutely LOVED Christmas! I remember Christmas at his house where everyone watches online, Santas progression across the world  – getting super excited! And even though there’s no children in the house, we were up at the crack of sparrows opening pressies ‘Santa’ had left on the end of our beds! We just couldn’t get as excited about our expat Christmas abroad in a hot country!

I mean, is it even Christmas without a logfire??!!

But in the end, my expat Christmas surprised me – I had a GREAT time! It truly was a very merry expat Christmas so I though’t I’d share my experiences with those who may be feeling homesick and dreading their own Christmas thousands of miles from home!

Contents

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Christmas in a hot country is WEIRD!

There’s no getting away from it, receiving Christmas cards with pictures of snowmen on it whilst you’re sunning yourself on the beach is just plain weird. I always wondered if it was weird for the Aussies too – why didn’t Christmas cards have pictures of Santa surfing or cooking a mean BBQ?! And it doesn’t get any less weird. I celebrated Christmas twice in Australia and the 2nd year it was just as baffling to me!

Cooking your turkey on the BBQ is just wrong!

It might taste nice (especially if you put a can of beer up the Turkeys bum first and slowly cook it with a lid on. Sounds weird but trust me!) So for me, what to eat on Christmas Day was a no brainer. I was all up for embracing the beach day traditions as long as we came home to a nice traditional  roast dinner! I’ll save the beer-butt turkey for another beach BBQ day thanks very much!

My only issue was one too many glasses of Prosecco and the distraction of a beach and a swimming pool meant that I served up dinner 4 hours later than planned … at ahem… 11 PM!! We actually had neighbours asking us to keep the noise down over our dinner as they were going to bed! Oops. But hey, it would be dinner time back home right?!!

It’ll still be a family Christmas.

Christmas without my Mum, Dad, Brother and 2 dogs, just seemed plain wrong. I mean Christmas is all about family isn’t it?! But after a few glasses of wine, I was getting all soppy and realising that actually I did have family in Australia. Expats are all in the same boat, living a long way from home. This forges really strong relationships as you have to support each other through the good, the bad and even the really sh*t times! My ‘Australian family’ were there to celebrate me getting my place on the GP training course. They also supported me when I lost my grandfather and couldn’t make it home in time for the funeral. So they were my family and as such Christmas still had that warm and fuzzy feeling where you look around the table and really appreciate the amazing people in your life!

My expat christmas family

Sometimes’s you’ll get not one but TWO Christmas Days!

I was visiting family in the January so I was super lucky to have 2 Christmas days – 2 days of presents, 2 roast dinners, 2 hangovers… A 2nd christmas is the best idea since Bilbo Baggins came up with the idea of a 2nd breakfast!

Embrace the Differences

Ok so I’m still being stubborn about the roast dinner – no one would be able to change my mind on that one! But, it is pretty fun, especially for your first expat Christmas, to embrace the different cultures and experience a totally different type of festivities! One that involved a Christmas nativity production in the swimming pool, a limbo competition, prosecco on the beach and raiding the fancy dress box…!

It’ll make you appreciate home even more.

Christmas in Australia was great but Christmas in the UK the year I moved back was AWESOME! Sometimes you don’t see what’s in front of your eyes until it’s no longer there. Being so far from loved ones at Christmas really makes you appreciate what you have!

My Mums Christmas Roast


Top Tips for an Expat Christmas

  • Do your Christmas shopping super early – posting stuff home always takes longer than you think and bonus – the shops aren’t crammed full of last minute harassed shoppers
  • Make sure to choose light presents – postage can really add up!
  • Schedule a time to Skype or FaceTime your family – Christmas Day can get busy, time differences can get tricky and there might not be much reception on the beach!
  • Surround yourself with people – there are usually people in the same position who would love some company on the day.
  • Don’t start cooking a 7kg turkey at 5PM
  • Embrace new traditions but keep some of your home traditions too to stop yourself getting too home sick
  • If all else fails, hit the prosecco hard!

Did you enjoy this article or find it helpful? Perhaps you have friends or family who are away from home this year? If you think someone you know may find it useful, please use the share buttons below! As always, I’d love to hear about your experiences!

If you enjoyed this festive post, you may enjoy reading my Christmas gift guide  and my European festive getaway guide!

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