If you’re celebrating the festive season overseas, how do you bring a little bit of the magic with you? I’ve been living in Asia for the past 12 years and we have spent most of our Christmases abroad, meeting up with family. Now that we’ve got quite a few kids in the mix, we’ve veered towards renting a villa which is much more cost-effective than staying in a luxury hotel. It’s also nice to have your own common areas that you can relax in, especially after the kids are in bed. We can bring our own decorations and give the villa a bit of a festive vibe. Most of our Christmas Days have been great fun in the sunshine, blaring the Christmas tunes. However, we did have a bit of a miserable Christmas Day a few years back with apparently ‘unseasonably bad weather’ (think monsoon rains) in Sri Lanka.
So how do you go about bringing Christmas on your vacation? This year Chanukah also falls over the Christmas period so we have to be doubly prepared. We long decided that it was ridiculous us all packing gifts for each other so we keep it simple and do a Secret Santa for the adults. The kids get loads of gifts although we try to bring things they’ll enjoy playing with on vacation e.g. pool toys and craft kits. Here are my top tips for bringing a festive vibe with you on your holiday:
- If you’re staying in a villa/self-catered accommodation, check with the rental company/owner if there are any Christmas decorations already there. We’ve been nicely surprised by villas where the staff have put out a fake christmas tree and even decorated the living room with tinsel for us.
- Pack your own decorations! Tinsel and baubles are lightweight and lots of fun for the kids to decorate with. We’ve also decorated villas with fake snow spray but to be honest, it’s a bit rubbish and I’ve no idea what chemicals are in there…
- Pack your stockings. Be mindful of stocking fillers that might melt if you are headed somewhere tropical.
- Make the gifts practical. Choose things your kids can play with on holiday. For adults, a Secret Santa works really well.
- Bring extra christmas wrapping paper and sellotape, in case gift wrapping gets broken during transit. Or for last-minute purchases at the airport.
- Bring Christmas food! I always pack mince pies, christmas pudding, stollen and mulled wine mix. We’ve long since realised that local food such as Pad Thai is far nicer than trying to hunt down an overpriced turkey in Thailand. So it’s always fun to have Christmas treats to accompany it.
- Pack Santa Hats and novelty Christmas accessories. Even if they only get worn for 5 minutes, the kids always love wearing those Reindeer antlers on christmas morning! You may also want to pack an adult Santa outfit if you’re trying to fool the kids… Although mine have sadly cottoned on to the fact that perhaps, Santa is not real…
- If you’re working your way through advent calendars, don’t forget to pack them!
- For those celebrating Chanukah, pack your menorah and candles. I’ve got a lightweight one that my kids made in nursery school which is perfect. Chanukah also means even more presents (8 days worth!) so I’ve had to be extra organised this year.
- Pack your speakers and download those cheesy Christmas hits. Nothing like a bit of ‘Last Christmas’ while you’re splashing around in the pool.
- Ditto for Christmas movies. Check in advance what audiovisual equipment is available. You may want to bring a digital AV adapter to mirror what’s on your iphone/ipad/laptop to the TV.
- Find some Christmas craft activities to do on the plane. I found these brilliant festive sticky mosaics and we then decorated the villa with them.