Most families who celebrate Christmas have their own special traditions, but these can be difficult to execute when you’re packed up and headed to Grandma’s on the 24th instead of tucked in your own beds preparing for the morning magic to unwind. It can be daunting for kids to be away from home during the holidays and they may feel disgruntled about not waking up in the cozy comfort of their bedrooms.
Having family spread out across the world, my children often spend Christmas far from home. To help make each expedience extra special over the years, we’ve followed advice from countless travelling families and here are the tips we’ve found most successful:
1) Pack a home tradition:
Each Christmas Eve, our family opens a present containing a new pair of pyjamas. This is an easy tradition for us to transport, as we can buy jammies to suit any climate and if we’re staying with family or friends, we’re sure to include them in the tradition as well!
2) Adopt a local tradition:
The first time our children had Christmas in Australia, they thought it was pretty bizarre that Christmas Day could be around 40 degrees Celsius and that many families headed to the beach. That said, they had a blast playing in the waves; something they could never do in Edmonton. So we decided that for future Christmases, wherever we were in the world, we’d find a beach and hang out there for a few hours. This year, we’re hosting Christmas at our home in Edmonton, so a trip to the West Edmonton Mall’s water park is in the plans!
3) Cut back on your stuff:
It can be a struggle to provide the “wow” factor that many families strive for on Christmas morning, when you realize that anything you pack needs to be lugged around on the trip and then brought home again. To save packing one year, we had a mini-Christmas at home before we left for our holiday (happily, Santa was willing to make an extra trip). Another time, we told the children that Santa had likely come to our home while we were away, but filled the stockings at our holiday destination. And once the kids were a bit older (and knew where their presents were originating) they calmly accepted the reality that we were cutting back on “stuff” whenever we travelled.
4) Feast on new foods:
Having enjoyed a Christmas Carp with our Czech friends, Pinnekjøtt (salted lamb ribs) on Christmas Eve with Norwegian family, and a “shrimp on the barby” in Australia, we’ve learned that Christmas meals vary across the world. To keep our kids happy, we arrange to share our version of a traditional Christmas meal with our hosts on one day of the holidays, and then look forward to trying new tastes when they invite us to their feast.
5) Swap an ornament:
We let the kids each choose one Christmas tree ornament to bring with them on the trip, so that they can make a contribution to the decorating and feel at home. We’ll also choose a decoration that is made locally to give to our hosts, and then have the fun of shopping for a new decoration while on holiday. Today, we have loads of special ornaments to help us remember previous Christmas travels.