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Season’s Greetings:

How to Have a Happy Expat Christmas!

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Christmas can be a daunting time for expats, particularly those working away with limited time off for merry-making. Whether in-country on a short- or long-term assignment, expats can feel alienated from traditional local customs and isolated from family and friends. However, spending your Christmas in a new country is often a fantastic experience where fresh traditions can be adopted and new friends made, if seasonal differences are approached in the right way. In our penultimate article of 2017, we look at how expats can foster that festive feeling while away from home.

  1. Celebrate the local way – sample local Christmas delicacies and immerse yourself in local customs. Try things you have never experienced before to make the most of your time away from home; if you have always experienced cold Christmases and are spending the festive season in the Southern Hemisphere, head to the beach on Christmas Day. You may pick up some interesting new traditions that will continue for many holidays to come.
  1. Join an expat community group – these can be found via social media channels, forums and through workplaces with large numbers of expat workers. Groups of this kind often put on festive events to stave off homesickness whilst also assimilating expats into local holiday customs. Sharing the holidays with those in a similar position helps expats feel less unsettled and involved in a more inclusive environment.
  1. Be mindful of local laws and cultural differences while celebrating – the British Consulate in the UAE recently released a humorous 5-minute LEGO animation across its social channels reminding its expats to respect cultural difference over the festive period and adhere to drinking/intoxication laws and indecency rules. Remember that the way you celebrate the holiday season may not be sensitive to local practices and could land you in trouble. The ‘Consular Christmas Carol’ video can be seen via the video link above.
  1. Seek out your favourite holiday food treats from home at international supermarkets or specialist websites. Amazon Fresh and many large local supermarkets have vast World Food sections, allowing you to bring the flavour of home to your expat celebrations.
  1. Make the most of technology to reunite you with your holiday traditions – there is nothing quite like your favourite Christmas movie to get you into the spirit; streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime now give you access to a wide range of festive films wherever you are, though be sure to check licensing laws for the country to ensure they are accessible. Whatsapp, Viber, Skype and FaceTime can link you to your loved ones while abroad, so you can share your Christmas Days from afar. Present-buying from overseas has never been easier as a result of online shopping and fast, cheap overseas delivery. Take into account customs and administration fees if you are buying outside a free customs area, and order in good time to allow for seasonal delays.

No matter where you are located and what your plans are for this holiday season, take care and enjoy yourselves – from all of us here at Mauve, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a prosperous 2018.