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My expat Christmas must-haves for 2023

Expat Christmas

Christmas is extra special for expats because it is either a rare chance to spend time with their family at home. Or we spend it with our expat family in our host country. So it is a time to celebrate those nearest and dearest to us, who live near or far. So here are my expat Christmas must-haves.

Christmas Lights


A Real Christmas Tree

Yes, I know this can sometimes be troublesome, especially if you have decided to spend Christmas abroad, and yes, it can also become expensive as some places aren’t as equipped as others. I usually start researching in late October or early November; this is due to the fact there has been an occasion in the past where I left it until early December and missed out entirely! Needless to say, my husband was not happy, and a plastic tree was bought.

  • My strategy– We never stay in a hotel during this time; we usually try to rent an apartment or house this way. If we need to order a real tree, it can be delivered to an address. Or better still, if you are booking the apartment, villa or house directly with the owner, then you can ask them to help (they will charge a fee, though).

singapore christmas


Ham isn’t the easiest to find at times, but it is something we always source out well in advance. Most times, we are lucky, but sometimes we have had to substitute.

  • Strategy– Needless to say, this is now a staple that sometimes comes back with me from Australia (just in case).

Advent calendars for My Expat Christmas

Advent Calendars have been something the kids look forward to each year, and I have to confess I also enjoy providing them. However, this has been more difficult of late, seeing that we are never in one place long enough to open each day’s surprises. We bought a wooden advent calendar in a Christmas shop in the States. I love adding special treats for each of my children individually; it makes it a little bit more special.

  • Strategy– Sometimes, we have had to compensate with chocolate ones so that they can carry them around with them.

advent calender

Bon Bon (Christmas Crackers)

It isn’t Christmas without a bonbon. I know that they are probably both a waste of money and a waste of space in your suitcase, but they feel like Christmas. There is no reason for needing these; they are just part of what makes Christmas, Christmas!

  • Strategy – If all else fails, then make your own; there are plenty of ideas found on Pinterest.

Family game time 

I know, I know, it is something we could play at any time of the year. However, whether it is our little family opening the latest board game or it is our extended family playing cricket in the backyard, this is a tradition that has been around since I was young.

  • Strategy – someone always receives a new game for Christmas, so no need to buy extra or look around for one.

Christmas in New York

Christmas Lunch

 I know that some families would rather spend their Christmas eating lunch at some fancy hotel buffet. For us, it is all about eating around the table together as a family with no outside interruptions.

  • Strategy– If finding the ingredients for your Christmas day feast is becoming difficult (which it has been for us in the past), then either a chef, if it is a larger group or a catering service would be a better option.

Christmas Mass

Everybody has their faith, so this is a personal one for us. During the festive season, we have the opportunity to ensure we all spend time together and attend Mass. Finding a church can be difficult in some places, especially for those countries that are not of the Christian faith.

  • Strategy– This one is a little more complicated; generally, we will scope the area on the line for the closest church to where we are staying. However, for those countries where it is not possible, then a little silent thanks of our own with, of course, Christmas Carols blaring.

christmas dog

When I look back at the past 14 years of living as an expat, we have had Christmas in so many different places, in so many different climates, and with so many different people. It doesn’t matter where we are as long as we are surrounded by those we love

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog. I hope this post has given you the information you need. If you have any recommendations, tips or advice, I would love for you to share them in the comment section below!

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My Expat Christmas Must haves

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