For most of my life, Christmas has looked like this:
But for the past 3 years, Christmas has looked like this instead:
I may not always get a white Christmas, but I certainly get a Blighty Christmas!
Don’t get me wrong, Christmas lights twinkling on palm trees are cute in the cheesy postcard kind of way. But for the past 3 years I’ve given up the south of Florida for the south of England during Christmas time, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Spending Christmas abroad is a great experience! In England, getting in the Christmas spirit is so easy because the atmosphere simply promotes gift giving, tree decorating, and togetherness.
This is my fourth Christmas in England, so I’d like to say I’ve perfected the Christmas to-do list for expats! Therefore, I present to you (in no particular order) my 5 favourite things to do in England during Christmas time!
1. Eating Christmas Treats – Christmas is the one time of the year where everything is calorie-less! Or at least, we wish that it was and just indulge anyway. It’s been 12 long months, and we deserve it! I like to start my day with a bit of chocolate from my Advent calendar. You are never too old for an Advent calendar! Snowballs (a cocktail with Advocaat and lemonade/Sprite) are a must-have drink for watching Christmas films with the family. Cheese Footballs only come out at Christmas time; just seeing their bright orange cartons fill me with Christmas cheer! (My British friends all say that they “taste like childhood”) And I can’t forget about how fun it is to bake cookies for family and friends, too! I like to use loads of peppermint, cinnamon, and white chocolate (but not at the same time…) while making cookies or cakes. Everyone is always pleasantly surprised with the outcome!
2. A Mini-Getaway – Leading up to Christmas can be super stressful. Braving the crowded shops, buying presents for everyone and their mothers, working diligently to finish all of your work before the new year… Going on a day trip is the perfect way to get festive! London is gorgeous during Christmas. If you can’t make it to Winter Wonderland, just staring at the beautiful lights outside Harrods will suffice! My personal favourite, however, is going to Brighton. And plus, the little one of a kind shops in “The Lanes” are amazing for some Christmas shopping!
3. Sending Care Packages – Being abroad for Christmas is amazing, but it also reminds you that loved ones are far away. Whether they are across the country or across the world, care packages are a great way to show family members or friends that you are thinking about them. And they definitely don’t have to break the bank! Chocolates and sweets always make great gifts, especially if they can’t get them where they live! (My family loves Wispas or anything Cadbury’s!) It’s also not a crime to hint that you would like a care package as well! (I’m certainly hoping I get an American care package this year!)
4. Going to the German Market with Friends – Coffee dates are hip and cool, but nothing compares to the German Market. The sights and smells are basically the definition of Christmas. Mulled wine or hot chocolate simply tastes better sitting with friends in the crisp air. It’s the perfect time to catch up, reminisce with friends, and hint at what you want for Christmas while everyone is cheery and festive!
5. Watching Christmas Specials on the Telly – Christmas day is always a whirlwind of excitement. Food, opening gifts, more food, Christmas crackers, silly hats, massive Turkey dinner, and finally, Christmas pudding set on fire. But nothing really says “I’m too full to function and can’t move a muscle” like plopping yourself down in front of the television with your family and watching the long anticipated Christmas Specials. The Queen gives her annual speech (which now is streamed on YouTube! Talk about finally getting with the 21st century, your majesty!), but the real telly watching party starts with great comedy classics, such a The Royle Family, or re-watching Gavin and Stacey’s crazy Christmas shenanigans.
No matter where you are in the world, Merry Christmas! I hope you have time to try some of my simple yet festive activities this Christmas season! And don’t forget to let me know what is on your “British Christmas To-Do List!”
Taylor is an American expat who traded the south of Florida for the south of England. She likes to think that she fits in great in her new home because says “to-MAH-to” and fully understands the game of cricket. But England never ceases to amaze her. She blogs about her love of all things British at Running Across the Pond.