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# Christmas Abroad
Handy tips (from those in the know) if you're spending your first Christmas abroad this year
We have some tips and tricks.

SPENDING YOUR FIRST Christmas abroad isn’t easy, especially when you’ve become accustomed to certain seasonal rituals and family traditions.

shutterstock_543184816 (1) Shutterstock / abd Shutterstock / abd / abd

While you might know the move was the right one for you and you’re thoroughly enjoying your new set-up, it’s fairly hard to shake the feeling that – for just one day – you want to be right back in the thick of it with those at home.

There are so many factors that can leave you feeling a little lost while spending Christmas abroad: the climate, the customs and the calls from home where you spend twenty minutes talking to the family dog, for example.

shutterstock_115146025 Shutterstock / Mirelle Shutterstock / Mirelle / Mirelle

With that in mind, we chatted with people who have spent Christmases away from home, and who are only too willing to share their tips and tricks when it comes to settling into the festive season.

There is no one particular way to approach the holiday as everyone is different, but if you’re spending Christmas abroad for the first time, maybe one of these will work for you.

1. Create new traditions.

Create new holiday traditions or recreate your old traditions while abroad really helps. For me, this meant joining in with my boyfriend’s family for all of their Christmas festivities. Be sure to call home and try not to cry (too much!) And if you want a good cry, indulge in some chocolate and mulled wine!

2. Spend time with other ex-pats.

The first time I spent Christmas abroad, I spent it with seven Estonians. We recognised each others traditions; they threw their annual Christmas Eve party and I made them a full Irish Christmas dinner. So, celebrate other Christmas traditions if you get a chance.

3. Get involved with those back home.

Take the time to face-time people at key moments back home, even if you think it will be hard. My mam and dad did it when they were opening their presents and having their breakfast, and it made me feel less isolated.

4. Don’t turn down an invitation.

Accept an invitation even if it is something you would usually say no to. On my second Christmas abroad, I had Christmas dinner with my neighbours – something I would never do back home in Ireland.

5. Accept it for what it is.

Don’t try to make it something it’s not; embrace it for what is it. I have spent Christmas Days on beaches, and I’ve treated it like a holiday, but I didn’t try to recreate an Irish Christmas because it would have been a disappointment.

6. Bask in your new-found environment.

It’s not likely you’ll be abroad forever, so soak up the place you’re living and accept their traditions. Irish Christmases will always be there for you when you get back.

7. Here’s that invitation advice again!

If people offer to ‘take you in’ over the holidays, allow them to! You’d always hear that people do that, and it’s because people genuinely want to make your Christmas as lovely as possible, so don’t feel like you can’t say yes.

8. Take the opportunity to travel

If you’re living in Oz, for example, try to use Christmas to travel. If you think you won’t be able to recreate an Irish Christmas, then don’t try, and instead ignore it. Head to Vietnam, Cambodia or Bali for example. It’s different, so make it different. Go on a trip, and create a unique Christmas memory.

9. Accept that it will be different.

When I lived in Vancouver, I remember coming back from mass – we brought a friend who had never been to a mass just to give him a snapshot of it – and lots of businesses were open and people were sitting out on the street having coffees. It’s not the same, and you’ll never really be able to achieve the feeling that the ‘whole world has shut down and I’m under my blanket for days’, so accept that quickly, and it’ll be much easier!

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