I wrote this originally for my sister but have tweaked it a little for a general audience.
So you’re not feeling Christmasly festive and it’s all not quite the same as at home?
I’ve compiled a 10-point plan of things which I think help to make it more fun during expat Christmases.
1) Decorate everything you can. A little bit of tinsel is good but a lot of tinsel and paper chains and decorations can make room and desk very happy – the cheesier the better.
2) Buy a Christmas tree and stick it in your room. Decorate Christmas tree to highest heaven – fairy lights are cheap, cheerful and good.
3) Give all colleagues a Christmas card. All it needs to say is “Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas” or something equally benign.
4) Buy yourself a present, wrap it and stick it under the Christmas tree for opening on Christmas day.
5) Find a bar that does mulled wine and drink it – it’s wonderfully warm and smells like how I imagine cold Christmases should smell. You can also make mulled wine at home.
6) Buy mince pies. Sample lots of different ones to make sure you have ones you really like. Again you can make these at home too.
7) Do “relaxed” Christmas shopping – the aim here is to do it slowly – no one minds when presents arrive, and shopping is good for festivity, as long as it’s not manic.
8) Carol services – the more the better. I’ve been to three so far.
9) Church – this is kinda like the above but deserves its’ own point. Point of Christmas is God’s gift of Jesus. Church’s are the best place for reminding yourself of that. Try the closest Cathedral as they tend to “do Christmas” very well. Hit the right note of sombriety and festivity as my Mum said a few days ago. The singing will help, honestly.
10) This is a great time for relaxation and reflection. I recommend time at the gym, nice showers/baths with yummy smelling stuff, food that you *really* enjoy eating (and not just junk food), books that you love and rental DVDs of good Christmas movies to get you in the spirit. DVD-wise I recommend – The Holiday, Love Actually, Miracle on 34th St, Muppets Christmas Carol, Bridget Jones, About a Boy, and the Grinch.
Anything else any expats out there would like to contribute? How do/did you celebrate your expat Christmases?