It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
The glistening lights on neighboring homes, festive wreaths on front doors, Christmas classics blaring through department store speakers, scanning the web for that perfect gift, sipping glühwein while strolling through the Christmas markets.I think I adore Christmastime so much because of the memories that go along with it. From behaving all year long so I wouldn’t get coal in my stocking to Christmas Eve sleeping shifts with my brother to try and catch a glimpse of Santa.
But those years are long gone and now I’m in California, a mere 2200 miles from home, and this will be my first Christmas away from my family.
So, how do you stay merry when you’re thousands of miles away from home?
1) Spread Christmas Cheer Through Snail Mail
I sent out a tweet asking any bloggers that wanted to receive a Christmas card from me to message me their address. I was really surprised with how many responses I got!
Even though I didn’t have the time or tools to make my cards by hand, I still put forth the effort to personally write in each card and I felt so much more merry after putting them in my mailbox! Some of the people I sent cards to I have only admired through blog posts and chatted with one, maybe two times. Nonetheless, it’s amazing how sending a little gift, such as a random Christmas card, to some stranger can make you feel like you’re playing a real life Santa and bring you warmth this Christmas.
2) Watch All the Christmas Movies
Elf, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home Alone and Planes, Trains & Automobiles to name a few of my favorites. I get so wrapped up in the movies I forget about what’s going on in my life and I finish them feeling more Christmas-inspired!
3) Build a Fire & Drink Hot Cocoa
We have just moved into our new house and have this amazing brick, wood-burning fireplace that I couldn’t wait to use!
Nothing is better than snuggling up with pillows and blankets around a fire, drinking some hot cocoa and reminiscing on childhood Christmas memories.
4) Bake a Dessert
What better way to forget about your Christmas blues than to spend hours in the kitchen making something you can pig out on? My favorite dessert is my special Apple Crisp Pie! (Link to recipe here).
I love making Christmas cookies too! There’s something so de-stressing about rolling out cookie dough (and eating it), using those cute little cookie cutters to make different Christmas shapes and then decorating them with sprinkles and edible glitter.
Indulging in my sweet tooth always makes everything better!
5) Decorate the House As Much As You Can
Since we’ve just moved from Germany to California, we haven’t had the time to snag a Christmas tree so I decorated on a budget this year! I bought dollar-store stockings and some ribbon and made our own for less than $3. I also found some Christmas garland from a store called Micheal’s for 70% off! I snagged two strands for under $15 and 3 strands of dollar Christmas tree lights and voila!– our on-a-budget Christmas tree!
6) Put On Your Silliest Christmas Gear
This has to be the best thing to put you in that Christmas spirit! We went to Goodwill (a donation-based thrift store for those who don’t know) and purchased the silliest shirts and sweaters we could find. Then, we magnificently glorified them, as you can see.
(We’ve come to the conclusion that the Santa above is most likely stoned)
7) Start Your Own Traditions
Since this is the first year my husband and I are spending Christmas together, we decided that it was a prime opportunity to start our own traditions. We made hot chocolate and started a fire the night after we decorated, something we want to start doing every year before Christmas.
We hung our stockings up, went and bought Ugly Christmas Sweaters, took a visit to the local ice skating rink, and still plan on putting cookies and milk out for Santa on Christmas Eve! There’s just some things from your childhood you can’t let go of, no matter how old you get!
And last, but not least, to stay in the Christmas spirit when you’re far from home…
8) FaceTime Your Family on Christmas Morning
On Thanksgiving, I was away from my family but we made sure that wasn’t going to get in the way of continuing our holiday traditions. I watched through the phone as my mom cooked a big brunch for my family; we all huddled around the TV to see the Macy’s Day Parade and National Dog Show; we poked fun at one another and joked together, as if we were all in the same room. I’m sure Christmas morning will go the same way and it warms my heart to know that I can still be thousands of miles away from home and still celebrate with them.
Have you ever been away from family for the holidays? What are your favorite Christmas traditions? Let me know in the comments below!