Are you used to spending Christmas abroad? Or do you want to travel home for the holidays but it is not possible now? Whatever the reason will be, you’ll be home this year for Christmas. Far away from your loved ones and family traditions. In case you still want to experience that international Christmas, let me help you with a few of my tips. This way, you’ll have that global Christmas feeling, at home!
Warning: As we’re all confined to our homes and travel restrictions are applicable for (nearly) everyone, trying to recreate a universal Christmas at home might trigger feelings of sadness, FOMO, and isolation. Be prepared for those feelings but remember: it is ok to not feel ok all the time.
Having said so, if you still want to recreate that Italian Christmas at home. Or celebrate a traditional American Christmas abroad. Then continue reading because these tips to celebrate an international Christmas at home are for YOU!
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10 Tips to Celebrate an International Christmas at home, this year
International-Themed Christmas Dinner at your house
I’m not going to lie. A lot of the holiday cheer and Christmas vibes can be (re)created with food and drinks. And the whole ambiance of sitting through family dinners for hours and hours on end. But what if the restaurants are still closed and you can’t meet with your (extended) family members from abroad? I came up with some ways for you to have a universal-themed Christmas dinner for yourself, for 2, or your small family at home.
Order a meal-box from your favorite restaurant
Are you still on (partial) lock-down? And are the restaurants still closed? Or with so many limitations that you feel like just eating in? Then maybe, a meal-box from your favorite (international) restaurant might be a good idea for you!
You don’t have to slave in the kitchen for hours but can still take all the credit for a lovely, globally-seasoned meal. Check if your favorite Italian restaurant or Sri Lankan food-hub offers meal boxes. Place your order in advance and either pick-up a chilled meal box or get it delivered to your door.
All you need to do is heat up the oven to finish off these delicious spicy foods from Mexico or Thailand. Then plate it up nicely and digg in!
If you can’t have dinner with your loved ones, but they do live in the same area, you can all order the same food and compare notes after your Christmas dinner!
Make a real international home-cooked Christmas dinner at home
Ok, this might not be feasible for everyone, especially if you’re not a kitchen princess, it might be tricky.
But as you’re probably not doing anything else for Christmas, you might use that extra time on your hands to prepare a Philippines “Léchon” or a German Christmas goose.
Now, this might be a bit out of your league. But you can always try your hand at some delicious Italian Panettone for dessert. Or the English Christmas pudding or fruitcake for the last course. And you can never go wrong with some German Glühwein.
Whether you’ll succeed in creating an international meal from Michelin-star quality, or not. Remember that it is about enjoying the time to prepare a nice new recipe for yourself at home and being creative.
Prepare the same dishes and video-conference together while eating
Is your family scattered across the globe and do you normally come together over Christmas dinner? Why not all prepare the same food from home (or not) but call in at the same time for a video-conference dinner.
Put your tablet at the head of the table in a nice holder, and enjoy your Christmas dinner together, even if you’re all at your own home!
This way, you can still experience the same Christmas dinner, although you’re miles apart.
Have an online foodie experience together from your couch
Are you separated by many oceans but still want to do something nice, and food related, for the holidays? Why not take a digital food tour or master cooking class together with your sister in Australia or your best friend in Madrid?
This also serves as a (delicious) Christmas gift to do together in the new year. All tours are digital and therefore Covid-19 proof. Here are some of my favorite digital food-tours by Devour.
Watch International Christmas movies in their native languages
So, the dinner is finished and you’re still at home. No commute from your family’s Christmas dinner, so you have all the time in the world to enjoy your evening. But what will you do…?
Do hold on to that international vibe, even at home during Christmas, tune in to some good old fashioned international movie!
Yes, you can turn on the subtitles, but there is something very transformative to watch an old Italian Christmas comedy, for example Vacanze di Natale (Christmas Vacation). Or tune in to Alles is Liefde (if you like to transport yourself to the country of the Dutch) or Alles ist Liebe if you want to spend your Christmas in Germany. These movies are quite similar to Love Actually but set abroad and with some new actors and languages, you’ll feel like you’re traveling for sure!
Listen to international Christmas songs
Nothing says “you’re in a different country” quite like the language you hear around you. So immerse yourself in some Spanish Christmas tunes (obviously Feliz Navidad, but there are many more!).
Turn up the stereo for some German Christmas Carols as you pour yourself another hot cup of mulled wine and you feel like wandering some of the biggest Christmas markets on the continent.
If you love Christmas Carols and want to take it virtually, there are some great Christmas Carol concerts online. For example, Candles by Candlelight. Dame Judy Dench joins the Winchester College Chapel Choir for a virtual caroling session. The event is to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust in the UK, so make sure to check it out here.
Decorate the house in international colors and Christmas decorations
As you’ll be spending more time in your home than any other Christmas, make sure it is super cozy and comfortable. Get your tree extra early (it will last) and decorate every part of the house where you’ll spend time during Christmas.
Why not have a small tree in the kitchen? Or a Christmas wreath in the bedroom?
Switch your Christmas theme for this year and maybe go for some blue and white Christmas ornaments to get into Finnish vibes. Or make your nativity scene with Italian nativity figures from Rome!
I love my green and red Christmas baubles that fit with an Italian, Mexican, Lebanese, Iranian, Jordan, Peruvian, Portuguese, or Surinam Christmas (as you can see, these colors fit with a lot of countries!)
Exchange travel gifts
Luckily, we live in a world where we can ship (almost) anything from anywhere in the world across the globe. So it doesn’t matter if you’re not spending Christmas at home this year. That still doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for getting amazing Christmas gifts for your loved ones.
As I’m a huge fan of giving the gift of travel, I give you a full and complete guide on how to arrange a trip as a Christmas gift.
And the good thing is: it can easily be done digitally, online or with shipping abroad.
If you’re looking for more tangible gifts to ship, while you stay at home this Christmas, here are some tips:
- Start early! Especially for shipping overseas, it might take a while. If you order something, consider sending it directly to your loved ones. Most online stores offer a different shipping address and you can even gift-wrap it in advance.
- Stay away from fresh and preserved foods. Or if you insist, make sure the import and export laws allow for the cheese/ham/olive oil/Christmas cake to be sent across the globe.
- Send something customizable. This makes sure the gift is unique, (the downside is: it cannot be returned) and personal. Engrave your initials on a cushion, send a keychain with a picture of you two together at the Golden Gate Bridge, or some other small items. I love Zazzle for this, as I have many items for sale on this platform too, but there are others out there too!
Watch the Christmas Mass of your favorite country online
If you’re looking for a bit more meaning to your globally inspired Christmas than stuffing your face and exchanging expensive gifts, then a foreign religious experience might be more your cup of tea.
Have you ever considered following a mass, especially this year’s Christmas mass, online? If you can’t go with family, physically, then you might still experience the same mass with your family online!
Of course, I don’t know what kind of mass you’re looking for, but check out the website of your favorite church (or the main church in your desired dream location) and see if they have online Christmas masses. For example, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York or the Vatican in Rome.
Follow the Christmas traditions from abroad
Are you still looking for more inspiration to get those foreign vibes during your Christmas celebration at home? Then dive into your favorite country’s Christmas traditions!
From running with suitcases around your block to safeguard a year of travel for New Year’s (Colombia) to building gingerbread houses like the Norwegians. Make it fun and foreign!
Place a red candle in the window like in Ireland to send a message of hope and light across your street. If you’re not in restrictive lock-down, you can cruise around in your car and marvel at the wonderful Christmas decorations in your neighborhood.
How to celebrate an international Christmas at home?
I hope the above mentioned tips and ideas have given you some inspiration to have an international Christmas at home. But remember, although we can’t travel right now or go abroad to reunite with family and loved-ones. The most important thing to remember this Christmas is that we’re all safe and healthy. And that, this too shall pass. Just enjoy your time, don’t dwell too much on the “can-not-do’s” but welcome new “can-do’s”!
How are you spending Christmas this year at your home? Will you give your Christmas a hint of international sparkle? Please share it in the comment section below! I’d love to read it.