Living far from family can be particularly tough during the holidays. We usually think of Christmas as a time for family, friends and spending time with loved ones, but what about when distance makes that impossible?
You can spend family-free Christmas with friends when you’re young and carefree. But what about when you have kids of your own? How can you show them that making Christmas magical and special without family living nearby?
Fear not; you can have a wonderful time sitting underneath a perfectly decorated Christmas tree draped with Christmas lights this Christmas season. Spending Christmas without family might seem rubbish, but you’ll be able to introduce your own traditions and create a festive season to remember.
Is making Christmas magical with no family possible?
If you have no family nearby, you might struggle with making Christmas magical for your kids. While adults see Christmas as a time for coming together as a family to celebrate, youngsters are usually more focused on the magic of Santa. It’s perfectly possible to enjoy a good dose of holiday cheer without family living nearby.
Keep reading to discover helpful tips so you can make Christmas feel like a special family occasion even when you live apart from your extended family.
Here are 7 tips for making Christmas a special one even when you’re far from family:
1. Celebrate with the community
If you don’t have family nearby, Christmas might seem daunting. How will the day feel special without visits from family members? How will your children get the message of Christmas without spending time with loved ones? Fear not, you might not have family nearby but you can lean on your community for help when it comes to celebrating Christmas.
Why not organize a celebration with friends instead? Invite friends to celebrate the holidays and share food and drink, as you would at home. Be sure to invite your children’s friends and introduce them to any traditions and rituals from your hometown. If there are other ex-pats where you live, they’ll probably be experiencing the same emotions as you are and will be glad of the company.
2. Make new family traditions
If you’re away from family during the holidays, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing something. Try to focus on the things you do have rather than the things you don’t. Then you can make new traditions and devise your perfect yuletide season.
You can take inspiration from your childhood and add new traditions that can become a part of your annual Christmas celebrations. You might find ways to give back to the local community – for example, by collecting items for a local homeless shelter or donating gifts to a local family center. If you love the magic of Santa, why not head into the garden on Christmas Eve to gaze up at the night skies in search of Santa’s sleigh?
3. Adopt some local traditions
If you’re living as an ex-pat, you might want to adopt some local holiday traditions. This will help you and your kids feel a part of the local community and at home where you live. Ask the locals how they celebrate the holidays and look out for nearby events you can attend as a family.
You’ll also want to celebrate with traditions and rituals from your childhood. If these are different from the traditions where you currently live, it’s a perfect opportunity to speak to your kids about their heritage. You can explain more about how other cultures celebrate differently and why you do the things you do. This will give your child the best of both worlds and allow you to pick out new traditions to include in your family festivities.
4. Ask for family recipes
If the thought of Christmas without your Nan’s stuffing is heartbreaking, ask her for the recipe. Be sure to include all your favorite dishes in your celebrations. Ask your parents and in-laws for the recipes they’ve always used at Christmas time. You don’t need to include everything, but the odd taste of home could help you to feel connected to your loved ones during your celebrations.
5. Organize a video call
Modern technology allows people to be together even when they can’t physically be in the same place. Schedule your video calls in advance so you can be sure you can speak to everybody who matters. Remember, kids aren’t great at video calling at the best of times and are likely to be overtired, so focus on short and sweet calls rather than longer attempts.
If the grandparents have sent a gift, ensure your child opens it during the call so the grandparents can experience the joy their gift brings. They will love to see your child opening presents and exploring their new toys.
Try to include any Christmas traditions like singing songs or a game of charades on the video call. Thankfully, the whole family can get involved even if you’re spread across the globe. Make sure everybody has decent technology and internet access in advance so you can enjoy a hiccup-free festive call as a family.
6. Play games apart
If family games are the highlight of your festive period, switch to virtual games this year. There are many different ways you can play games together in different locations. For example, you can play online with game consoles so your kids can beat Grandpa at Mario Kart, or you can take part in a virtual quiz game to see which household wins.
7. Take lots of photos and videos
It can be hard to be away from family over Christmas. Grandparents might find it particularly tough to be away from their grandkids, who change and grow quickly. So be sure to take plenty of photos and videos of you all over the holidays and keep your family updated. Sending plenty of updates will keep family involved and let them feel a part of your celebrations.
How do I deal with being away from my family at Christmas?
It’s not easy being away from family over the holidays; many people miss their family extra hard at this time of year.
The following tips might help you get through the holiday season without your family nearby:
1. Make sure you send presents on time
International post can be slow at the best of times but the run-up to the holidays is notoriously tricky. Be sure you send any festive parcels in good time, so your loved ones will have something to open on Christmas Day. Have your children decorate holiday cards and choose gifts for the people you wish you could be with during the holidays.
2. Make some core memories
Think back to your childhood Christmases and figure out which experiences have become your core memories and why. Perhaps it was the feeling of togetherness throughout the season; you could replicate this with your local friends. If it was the feeling of being part of a religious community, seek out a similar community for your children.
Christmas memories are usually a blur of festive baking, glittery crafts, family walks and twinkling lights. But, of course, you can do all this and more without extended family. Perhaps your Christmas memories will be different from those you enjoyed growing up, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be as good. Your kids will love the holiday season just as much as you did.
3. Focus on the positives
Even if you miss your family, there must be some positives to spending Christmas with just you lot. First, you’re likely to skip the family drama and you won’t have to see that family member you don’t really like. You won’t have to spend the big day driving between houses and, instead, you’ll be able to stay in your own home and spend time as a family.