An expat’s guide to celebrating end of the year holidays!

San Francisco, December 2015

As 2016 comes to an end, there is a sense of festiveness and fun here in Minneapolis. For many this is the time for gathering with families but for an expat like me it is a different story. Since my family lives half way across the globe (literally), I can’t travel as much as I would want to. Plus I don’t celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah but that does not mean I don’t enjoy the positivity and cheers that Christmas or Hanukkah bring! I celebrate the end of the year my own way. I have sort of created my own tradition, my own festival if I must say. Here is the my guide to celebrating end of the year holidays or winter holidays (if you are in northern hemisphere).

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Host a dinner! Since almost everyone is gathering and having dinner with their families, why not host one with friends who are not traveling to spend time with their family. If cooking is not your thing, do what I am doing this year. Reserve a table at your favorite restaurant and have a fabulous time with your friends!

DSC07699Give a gift! I love the idea of gift giving around this time. Me and my friends are doing a small gift exchange during our dinner just to make it more fun. And if gift giving is not your thing, how about greeting cards or letters. I love receiving handwritten cards and letters in mail. It just feels a little more special. I am assuming a lot of people feel the same.

winter holiday collage1St. Paul Holiday Market, American Swedish Museum(ASI) Minneapolis

Visit Christmas markets. There are usually many Christmas markets around this time. So do some shopping. Interact with local vendors. Have some Goulash with Gluhwein. I know it sounds really cliched but I love it! I really do love Goulash and Gluhwein.

IMAG2035Afton Alps

Ice Skating! Usually Christmas markets have skating rinks. If not, there are many standalone skating rinks too.  So go spend a day or two or three skating or until you get tired! I wish I knew how to skate but I am pretty bad at anything that involves balancing! If you are like me, go tubing! Hah! And if you want something more adventurous, go snow shoeing or cross country skiing! If outdoors is too cold for you, how about curling? I tried curling for the first time last year and I had such a blast!

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Put a Christmas tree in the house. It does not have to be a real one and it really does not matter even if you don’t celebrate Christmas. I don’t celebrate Christmas but I have had a Christmas tree every single year since my second year in America. I think it’s adds a nice warmth to the house. Plus in Minnesota, Christmas tree and snow goes really well together! As my own tradition, I always add new ornament to the tree to mark big events happened that year. Last year we bought a house so I added a house ornament to the tree. My Christmas tree is basically like a recap of the year!

DSC07700Create a hygge. This is probably my favorite one! Christmas or not, hygge is always a good idea! Invite your friends over. Have a casual sleepover party. Watch some fun movies. Home Alone will always be my favorite around this time. Create your own in-home spa which is both fun and relaxing! Add some hot cider to your sleepover party and make your hygge sleepover even more cozy.

Australia, December 2013

If none of these work out, traveling is always a good idea. Last year we did a road trip along the west coast stopping at various cities. We started from San Francisco and finally ended it in Las Vegas. We welcomed new year watching fireworks and with some dancing!

Hope this was helpful. If I missed something or if you are more ideas please do let me know. So how are you planning to celebrate your holidays?

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