Six Holiday Rituals you Never Knew you Missed as an Expat Abroad



Friends, family, snow, Christmas parties, wrapping presents, beautiful Christmas light display– all the wonderful, and obvious things that the expat misses out on during the holiday season.
But this article isn’t about missing the obvious.
This article is about the holiday things you had no idea you were missing. The little forgotten facets so ingrained in the season, you didn’t even realize how vital they were to your holiday experience.
So without further ado, here are six things you never knew you would miss while being expat during the holidays.

1) Oversized Popcorn Tins


“mmmmm open me up for 4,000 calories of caramel cavity goodness!”

You know, the one that always tastes at least a few days stale. The tin is way too big, and it comes in three flavors, cheesy, regular, and everybody’s favorite, caramel.

Yep, two Christmases abroad without this quintessential crunch-lacking Christmas fixture, and I can still remember the protocol clearly—
Gorge self on the caramel popcorn until you scrap the bottom of the seemingly bottomless tin.
Then, place the tin and the remaining two uneaten flavors on the top of the refrigerator in the very back.
Now try your hardest to forget about the tin, and leave it there for several months, or until it’s almost Christmas again.
Finally, try not to think of grandma, swallow regret, and throw the tin away.

2) Christmas Movie Marathoning

A Christmas Story
I’m sure there are many expats who are much luckier than I, expats who have a television, and possibly even a few English channels (oh the life of luxury), but in my tiny studio, we don’t have a television, and I can’t even think of a single place in my small Thai village where I could watch English channels.
But that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten the glory days, lounging in a turtle onesie with a cup full of coco and Schnapps, while hours of my life slip away watching the Christmas classics on ABC Family.
A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone 2, The Nightmare before Christmas, Die Hard…
Can movie titles make you salivate? I think I’m salivating. I could really go for a Christmas movie marathon.

3) Ugly Sweater Parties

Christmas Sweater

Here’s my uncle modeling a mysteriously terrifying Xmas Sweater

Dusty, musty, and with an aroma of mothballs, these hideous beasts lurk on the back racks of Goodwill for eleven months, waiting patiently for the one month of the year they can rear their ugly threads.
Pixelated reindeers, gaudy greens and all, that’s right I’m talking about ugly Christmas sweaters.
Just like a Chinese Crestid or a pug we’re not sure why we love them, but we do.


Ah! It’s the damn Chupacabras! Nope, it’s a Chinese Crested.

And you know what they say, the more the merrier!So call your friends, pour some eggnog cocktails, and sweater up! Because if you ever find yourself abroad for the holidays, you might just find yourself missing this holiday tradition.

4) Christmas Cookies


Russian tea cakes, shortbread sugar cookies in the shape of snowmen, snickerdoodles, gingerbread, and peppermint cookies cut and frosted like candy canes–

 Damn if Christmas cookies ain’t the fucking truth…

And, if you live in Asia, there’s a good chance Christmas cookies are nowhere to be found.

So, if you’re not within arm’s length of a Christmas cookie right now, then allow me to formally apologize for bringing this delicious absence to the forefront of your consciousness.

5) Non-Stop Christmas Radio


Mariah Carey actually makes a pretty convincing elf…eh Peter Jackson? Eh?

Ok, so maybe this one is a bit obvious, but I don’t care. I’m proud to say I’m a Christmas music fanatic.
I’ve lived in over five U.S cities, and I can tell you that there is always at least one radio station that proudly blares non-stop Christmas tunes from December 1rst all the way until the 25th.
Love it.
That’s right, there’s nothing better than belting out a jingly Christmas classic!
Baby all I want for Christmas…” is to hear some fucking Mariah Carey blasting out of every speaker in this city. Right. Now.

But alas, the only place I’m going to hear that in Thailand is a western restaurant or my bedroom.

6) White Elephant Exchanges


The Barbie Playstation game, Derek Jeter’s rap album, a calendar of cute cat pictures, or a Billy Mays endorsed Gopher– white elephant exchanges are the perfect excuse to go into a Daiso store and go crazy, blow hella dough… I’m talking like eight dollars worth of dough.

There’s nothing better than shopping for all the meaningless stuff you always secretly wanted to buy, but felt too guilty to.

Whoever came up with the white elephant gift swap idea deserves a Noel Prize…get it… like Nobel, ahaha… Ok I’ll stop.


So that’s it, there’s my list, and I even checked it twice.

But maybe I forgot something… Do you have anything to add to the list? Some holiday practice I’ve left off? Comment below and let me know. What are you missing this holiday season abroad?

Happy Holidays, and Merry Christmas

JG 🙂

3 thoughts on “Six Holiday Rituals you Never Knew you Missed as an Expat Abroad

  1. Pingback: 7 Reasons why Visiting Home is more Stressful than Leaving Ever was~ Expat-Life: Thailand | Jai Guy Travels

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