Celebrating Christmas away from your family: Chasing away the Holiday blues

What made you dream of travelling the world and building a new life as an expat or digital nomad? Was it love? Or are you the kind of person who yearns to discover new, uncharted territories?

Whatever the reason, and however much you enjoy immersing yourself in a new culture, these December days are another challenge.

Understanding the expats’ emotional rollercoaster during the Holidays

There are so many aspects to these festive weeks. Holidays present different challenges for all of us. It could be homesickness or the nostalgia of fond memories.

Or it could be the social media pressure to show happiness and cheerfulness. This kind of pressure can lead to high expectations. Disappointment is bound to happen.

Embracing the new and finding joy

Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. To change the narrative, I’ve lined up some great ideas to make this holiday season more memorable!

Cultural exchange over dinner

cheerful people having fun toasting with champagne at a Christmas party

Ever heard of a potluck? It’s a social event where each guest brings a dish to share. Why not invite other expats and digital nomads alike? Give it an international theme and ask everyone to bring a signature dish from their home country.

Consider complementing this gathering with cooking classes for local holiday cuisine, workshops for traditional holiday decorations, or dance classes for cultural festive dances.

It’s a fantastic opportunity to taste new cuisines and immerse yourself in different cultures while at it!

Apply for ‘adoption’

close up of family preparing Christmas dinner table

Remember the reason why you went on this foreign adventure in the first place? I bet it had something to do with experiencing new cultures and feeling like an integral part of their community. So, grab this opportunity with both hands and dive in!

In some communities, there are some thoughtful initiatives. It’s called ‘Adopt Me for Christmas’ in Brussels, Belgium. The locals will happily welcome you and introduce you to their Christmas and New Year’s Eve traditions.

Prepare to make lifelong friendships and enjoy a truly immersive cultural experience. It won’t be anything like Christmas at home!

Embrace solitude as an opportunity

woman is lying in windowsill bed and reading a book

This solitude can actually be a blessing. You can focus on mindfulness and meditation without the usual distractions and obligations.

Get in touch with your artistic or intellectual side. Reconnect with your inner self, explore new ideas and add a touch of personal well-being.

Begin 2024 with a refreshed mind.

The Science of altruism

young volunteers working at distribution center helping out

You’re probably not the only one feeling out of place, longing for the holiday spirit. But guess what? There’s a lot of good that you can do these days!

Check out volunteer opportunities in your area. You could visit a lonely elderly neighbour, volunteer at the local food bank, or collect food for the less fortunate at the local supermarket.

Or, if you’re more of an animal lover, plenty of pet and wildlife initiatives would do anything for an extra pair of hands in these freezing weeks.

Your brain will reward you with a release of endorphins, brain chemicals known for their mood-lifting properties. And as a bonus, you’ll probably experience a sense of community and belonging.

Talk about a real emotional boost!


friends sitting together enjoying a beach campfire

Let’s embrace this holiday season. Not as a time of missing out but a time full of opportunities for unique experiences. It’ll give you personal growth and beautiful stories to tell.

Celebrating the holidays in a different culture will give you unforgettable memories. And who knows? It might even inspire you to create some new traditions of your own.

Sometimes, the most memorable holidays are those that break from the norm.

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Angelique Hersman
Angelique Hersman
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