Shall we have another "Forrin" Christmas thread?

(53 Posts)
CrystalDeCanter Thu 21-Nov-13 01:16:16

I'm just starting to get my head around Christmas this year.

We are hosting Pils and Bils family, I want to make it nice (obvs) but still struggle a bit with the Aussie Christmas thing - Oh yes, I'm in Australia, but thread open to global displaced masses grin.

Tell me what you'll be eating, where you'll be, temperatures, traditions new and old - do you import British traditions to your new place or adapt to the new country?

To kick us off I'd like to say . . .

As holly and ivy and ALL winter decos seem a bit odd here I was thinking of decorating our garden with these kinds of things. It will be sunny and warm here (hopefully) so was thinking of doing an outdoor treasure hunt for the kids.

Sibble Thu 21-Nov-13 01:33:59

They are pretty cool.

NZ Christmas - We decorate a tree, for the last 11 years we have bought a real one, this year I am tempted to buy a fake one shock as a) the real one is often dead from the heat before Christmas is over b) I am allergic to real ones. However, it feels wrong so is still up for debate. We spend Christmas at our beach house (and take the tree with us on a trailer!). Christmas morning santa comes round on a fire truck throwing sweets while his 'helpers' spray hose on-lookers. We open presents, have a swim (weather permitting - this is NZ not OZ!) play board games, sometimes catch up for drinks with other lost soles with no family, have the traditional roast (chicken or lamb usually as turkey is ridiculously expensive) and pull crackers. Boxing day for the past few years we have been joined by friends for the day and repeat the events of Christmas day while their dog terrorises our cat (who also comes to the beach!)

So for us I guess it's a mixture of old and new because of the heat and without family around us.

madwomanintheatt1c Thu 21-Nov-13 01:52:42

Canadian Christmas! Very traditional - more traditional than the UK! We have had a foot of snow in the last 24 hours, and I live in the mountains. grin
Turkey, Christmas trees, skating on ponds, hot chocolate, log cabins, and egg nog.
The ils are coming for a month (so they can ski ;-) ) but I will be mailing everyone else's Christmas goodies - maple syrup, eh?

deXavia Thu 21-Nov-13 01:54:34

Hong Kong and yes Christmas decorations just look wrong in the sunshine! However we'll still have a tree and with small kids as many tacky decorations as we can find.
Christmas lunch is delivered from one of the big posh hotels - this is the single most joyous thing I've discovered in HK. It's guaranteed to be yummy, means no last minute shopping and gives us all morning to chill and build massive lego sets!
Then on Boxing Day we fly off on a weeks vacation in the sun.
I lurves Christmas in Hong Kong grin

deXavia Thu 21-Nov-13 01:55:37

Ohh maple syrup candy - fabulous stuff

TreaterAnita Thu 21-Nov-13 01:57:36

Ooh, I'm quite interested in this, not because we're abroad, but because we have Aussie family coming over for the first time and we want to give them the full UK Xmas experience. So can I slightly barge in and ask, if you live abroad, especially in Oz, what UK Xmas traditions you miss?

(One of these years we won't be cheap skates and actually experience an Australian Xmas, normally we fly in Xmas Day/Boxing Day to avoid the rip off fares.)

WallyBantersJunkBox Thu 21-Nov-13 02:03:52

Switzerland...we haven't had any snow yet!

Apparently it's coming Friday.

Usual run up - advent next weekend, so the Christmas Markets start week Friday. Lights go up outside houses.

We get a tree earlier than most, as the Germanic tradition is Christmas eve tree with candles, and presents.

We celebrate on Christmas day though, as Santa visits us, not the Christ child. I have secured a turkey during expat Thanksgiving sales, so it's in the freezer, nestled next to 100 homemade mince pies....

A common Swiss Christmas lunch is Fondue Chinoise, but we will have full turkey dinner, and our Christmas cracker & Cadbury reserves have been topped up since our half term visit home.

Just us for Christmas day, then some other expat friends for games and a snowy mountain walk on Boxing day.

CrystalDeCanter Thu 21-Nov-13 02:10:49

Sibble, I love the thought of you towing your christmas tree to the beach house. How funny.

CrystalDeCanter Thu 21-Nov-13 02:16:21

deXavier - you get Christmas dinner delivered??!!? I've never heard of anything as splendid. How madly lucky and indulgent.

TreaterAnita I miss the cold - the whole build up to Xmas with dark gloomy weather and the pretty shops. Here it's much more low key and obv not the same weather. I miss a traditional Christmas lunch - we have prawns, lobster etc (equally delicious but not Christmas iyswim). I also really miss doing jigsaws/playing charades etc and watching Morcambe and Wise Christmas show on the telly but that was when I was a kid not now . . .

TheZeeTeam Thu 21-Nov-13 02:34:05

OP You're decorating your garden pretty much how I decorate mine in the summer! Then, without fail, the nasty NE summer storms come in and kill them before I take them down.

I am actually really into Christmas this year. I think it's because it's DS1's second to last before he leaves home, and the younger two are 9 and 10, so I'm aware that this is probably the last year they will ever find it truly magical. DD was in tears the other day as the Chimney Sweep had been on the same day she had left the letter for Father Christmas in the hearth. Obviously, I have the letter, but it just reminded me how short this time is.

deXavia Thu 21-Nov-13 02:42:41

Crystal oh yes in a beautiful box with a bow wink . There's only us and the kids so it seemed insanity to cook a turkey but then some told me about this service and we've done it the last 3 years. It comes with mash, gravy stuffing - the works. It's hugely indulgent but honestly the best Christmas gift ... ever!

I agree though I miss wrapping up against the cold, dark evenings and snow. And I do miss Christmas markets and all the treats like mince pies and gingerbread men. You could do them of course - and many do - but I just don't seem to get into the same Christmas spirit here.

MooseBeTimeForSnow Thu 21-Nov-13 02:48:54

Same as madwoman. A thoroughly traditional Christmas here in Northern Canada. We can even pay the council $5 for a permit to go into the forest and cut your own tree.

It's likely to be deep in snow and -30. It was -26 today with a beautiful clear blue sky and the sun was shining.

Sibble Thu 21-Nov-13 02:57:26

Loving this thread and having just read mine back to myself have to apologise for lost soles hmm of course I meant souls! confused

CrystalDeCanter Thu 21-Nov-13 03:58:45



MasterOfTheYoniverse Thu 21-Nov-13 04:09:56

Hong Kong here too and hoping it will be cool enough by then.
Have order a proper royal fir, just love the smell.
We also light up scented candles as soon as it gets dark and use a few fairy lights to get into the mood.

Have never ordered a full lunch, love cooking for large numbers so that's a good opportunity to have a few friends over.
We always order a big tray of oysters though.

This year, we'll be on a beach!

madwomanintheatt1c Thu 21-Nov-13 04:16:10

We'll be getting our tree permit soon, moose grin
Last year we waited united until the ils arrived and went and cut two, one each grin
-35 here today. On a less festive note, dh didn't plug his car in last night and it is frozen solid until the temp goes up. <sigh>

madwomanintheatt1c Thu 21-Nov-13 04:16:49

I am however, wondering if Christmas dinner delivered in a box is a possibility...

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Thu 21-Nov-13 04:18:52

Live in HK but going home this year- we alternate. Slightly panicing about how much I need to organise between now and then. Last time we were back for Christmas 2 yrs ago I was 7 wks pregnant with DD, felt exhausted and sick as a dog, so hoping this one will be more festive for me.

deXavia Thu 21-Nov-13 04:24:09

Waves to Yoni and RichMan

deXavia Thu 21-Nov-13 04:25:00

Sorry Yoni should probably be abbreviated to 'Master'

MasterOfTheYoniverse Thu 21-Nov-13 04:46:57

Yes please smile
Think maybe time for a namechange!

13loki Thu 21-Nov-13 15:34:44

We are in Sweden. We do full-on Swedish cChristmas on christmas eve (julboard, tomte visit, watching Donald Duck and all the TV specials, then Santa comes durinf the night and I so full on british Xmas dinner on Xmas day. Best of both worlds. Wirh pretty much guaranteed white christmas.

13loki Thu 21-Nov-13 15:35:04

We are in Sweden. We do full-on Swedish cChristmas on christmas eve (julboard, tomte visit, watching Donald Duck and all the TV specials, then Santa comes durinf the night and I so full on british Xmas dinner on Xmas day. Best of both worlds. Wirh pretty much guaranteed white christmas.

MooseBeTimeForSnow Thu 21-Nov-13 19:31:53

I'm sure a couple of local hotels deliver. DH isn't fussed for a roast turkey and DS is indifferent, being 23 months. I'm thinking a turkey and ham pie maybe, with creamy mash and shed loads of veg ...

Twunk Thu 21-Nov-13 19:41:08

Netherlands. We are currently doing "Sinterklaas" which is where many of the Christmas traditions come from. 5 December he leaves a sack of gifts outside the door and goes back to Spain on his steamboat. (Don't ask).

My DS has been seriously ill this year, my parents are coming as we can't travel (he's in treatment) and so I'm going to make it as wonderful as I can, even if we're in hospital.

Christmas isn't as "big" here because of sinterklaas, but we are going for the full British Christmas with turkey and crackers and ginger wine and presents and Slade and carols and everything.

heather1 Thu 21-Nov-13 21:05:34

Wally, the snow is here early! Swiss Christmas with us. I'm not sure our little oven can hold a turkey for 8 plus trimmings so me and Dh are currently discussing ( arguing) what to eat Christmas Day. He is determined on Turkey, I'm not sure it will fit.
We will have Raclette at some point and tour the Christmas Markets. My sisters hoping for skiing.

WallyBantersJunkBox Thu 21-Nov-13 21:37:37

Heather it's not sticking here! sad

I had envisioned floating in the salt spa today surrounded by snow, but it wasn't to be...

Twunk Thu 21-Nov-13 22:00:11

Yes we will have a raclette too (very Northern European!) and I am going to cologne for the Christmas markets next weekend smile

madwomanintheatt1c Fri 22-Nov-13 01:05:07

We took my sis to Koln for the Xmas markets when we were living in Germany - she wrinkled her nose at the cathedral and said 'is that it?' Dh relives this every time we reminisce about Christmas markets. Have a gluhwein and brattie for me!

MasterOfTheYoniverse Fri 22-Nov-13 07:55:31

very envy at the thought of swiss and Dutch christmases, that's my childhood memories!

Twunk sending you lots of hugs and strenght and have a stroopwaffel (or 10) for me. Hope you are all home for a respite for christmas.

heather1 we are starting round of fondue and raclette in Hong Kong on the first weekend of December, even if its still 18 degrees celcius! enough now, we have to draw a line on summer at some point!

Thank goodness the International schools are doing christmas charity bazaars so we can stock up on mince pies etc...

PeppermintBark Fri 22-Nov-13 17:44:27

Christmas in Michigan for us.

We put up the tree and outside lights the first week of December, same as when in UK (although I think the outside lights are more of a US than UK thing).

There will just be the four of us, so it's much more low key than in when we go back to Blighty for the hols. We have turkey at Thanksgiving so I tend to get a rib joint for Christmas. I make mince pies as I can get Robertsons mincemeat from the grocery store and I make tons of sausage rolls for American friends, as everyone who has them loves them, but they're not something you can buy here.

We shall relax and watch Dr Who on the day.

I really miss England the most in the run up to Christmas as I don't feel it has the same atmosphere here. I used to love going into town and walking round everywhere - the malls just don't feel the same.

As we have such cold winters here, I do get really cross if there's not snow on the ground at Christmas. I do like a white vista to look out upon!

LA so no snow, who knows if it will be warm or chilly? First Christmas here and my parents are flying out, we're going American and doing their trad food - although no turkey because we'll have enough if it this weekend with thanksgiving

Getting a real tree though! So excited about picking it out

juniperDontevenblinkNZ Tue 26-Nov-13 20:36:20

New Zealand here. We have a bbq at lunch with rolled turkey breasts with stuffing in from our local butchers, I normally so some roast potatoes and we have veges like corn on the cob. Kids play outside a lot of the day (they are getting a trampoline for Christmas so I'm guessing they'll be on that all day!) and we normally go for a walk to the beach or the forest in the afternoon. Then we have a picnic tea. Christmas tv here is pretty rubbish, so we tend to watch family movies in the evening.
I'd really like a real tree, but with the heat and the fact we go camping for a week on Boxing Day we opt for a fake one.

There are a lot of Christmas things going on, a big Santa parade through the city, Santa at the beach (he brings his surf board!), Christmas in the Park with bands playing and carols etc, lots of big family work do's involving ice cream and bouncy castles, and lots of Christmas bbqs going on - we already have 4 lined up!

I do really miss the build up to Christmas in the UK, with the lights and dark evenings - used to be one of my favourite times of year in the UK but it doesn't really feel the same here when it doesn't get dark until gone 9... I'd love to take the kids round to look at all the lights in the UK, they are all 5 and under so it's too late for them to stay up here and most people don't seem to bother putting them up. I also miss being able to snuggle up in the eve and watch the BBC, never thought I'd miss the Christmas tv so much! There is something so nice about staying in, eating lots of food, playing board games etc.

My kids don't know any different though so its only DH and I. DS1's only concern is how does Santa get into the houses as nearly all the houses here lost their chimneys in the earthquakes we had - for the last couple of years there have been big billboards up telling children that Santa doesn't need a chimney so not to worry smile

WallyBantersJunkBox Tue 26-Nov-13 21:14:14

Juniper - get a big old key and label it Santas magic key. Leave it outside with the carrots for the reindeer.

I think you can buy them in the UK - not sure about NZ!

EspressoMonkey Wed 27-Nov-13 08:11:56

Will be Christmas in Switzerland again. We have had snow but most has melted, hoping for another big dump just before Christmas.

Turkeys here are expensive £45 for a small frozen one from a suoermarket, last year we spent £110 for a fresh one from our local butcher. Shockingly expensive!

Christmas markets are open now, so rock on mulled wine season!

EspressoMonkey Wed 27-Nov-13 08:15:13

Boxing Day doesn't exist in Switzerland. So DH was working BD last year. Bit of a come down for me. All my family in UK were doing family Boxing Day things and i took the DCs to the supermarket :-(

cjdamoo Wed 27-Nov-13 08:26:05

Nsw Australia here. 5th xmas here and I am Pushing for an Aussie xmas this year seafood and a bbq because quite frankly another christmas cooking up a traditional roast with all the trimmings whilst the sun shines is making my teeth itch. I fancy seafood and a barbie followed by the beach. It never feels right to me so if you cant beat em join em.

WallyBantersJunkBox Wed 27-Nov-13 11:35:33

Oh Expresso do you live in one of the 5 cantons that doesn't have a holiday on the 26th?

For the rest it's St Stephens day.

You should go across to France or Germany for your turkey, the fresh ones in Carrefour are a decent price. I ordered a fresh in from Coop the first year we moved, never again, far too expensive.

I bought one in Germany on sale for ex-pat Americans (Thanksgiving). I've frozen it and I will brine it a few days before to make up for any moisture loss!

EspressoMonkey Thu 28-Nov-13 11:30:56

WallyBanters yes we are in Vaud, so no St Stephens day. Tried a fresh coop turkey one year too, it was over priced and as the butcher pointed out "came from Slovenia" shock

FeijoaVodkaIsThirstyForVodka Thu 28-Nov-13 11:49:31

I'm hoping for another white UK Christmas. If I can't have a proper warm--wet--/hot Kiwi Christmas then I want it to be as stereo typical Christmas cardlike as possible grin

MasterOfTheYoniverse Thu 28-Nov-13 14:24:48

feijoa your name threw me off! Shouldn't it be feijoacachacathirstyforCaiperinha?
They grow guava in Russia?

FeijoaVodkaIsThirstyForVodka Thu 28-Nov-13 16:18:57

Master than thank goodness for Dr Google because I was very confused reading that! That drink sounds lush! Feijoas are huge in NZ for some reason, so I grew up with trees in the back yard and more feijoas than we could eat. In the UK the only person who knows what I'm on about has spent a lot of time in a Central Asian country where they are popular.
Feijoa is a flavour of a NZ vodka I like very much.

WallyBantersJunkBox Thu 28-Nov-13 17:12:30

Bummer Espresso Vaud has one of the lowest Cantonal holiday counts. We have the same in BL but my offices are in SO which have one of the highest.

Which means that I get extra days off that DS doesn't get, as his school is in BS, and I enjoy an odd sneaky day or two in the year at the Wellness baths or at the cinema. grin

I would definitely be going over the border for a pre-Christmas big shop. Do you get the tax back on your cross border shopping from Carrefour France?

MasterOfTheYoniverse Fri 29-Nov-13 01:13:30

smile sounded brazilian to me!
Love guavas!

All the Americans are very perplexed at Boxing Day - we're hosting a potluck Boxing Day party for everyone we know here (quite a few Brits aren't going home this year) for everyone to bring their leftovers to

Christmas Eve I'm getting a whole salmon and some west coast oysters and hosting dinner for our American friends who just hosted thanksgiving for Very. Full

FeijoaVodkaIsThirstyForVodka Fri 29-Nov-13 22:29:13

They are Brazilian, just for some reason they are popular in NZ and Central Asia.

giggly Mon 02-Dec-13 15:00:56

Hang on did no one notice madwoman saying her husband had,nt plugged the car in ? confused
Another in Oz , just weird in the sun.

FeijoaVodkaUnderAPohutukawa Mon 02-Dec-13 21:18:27

grin at the unplugged car.

I may be hoping for another white Scottish Christmas, but thought it was time to give myself a little reminder of NZ Christmas at the beach. Hopefully my name will come true in a couple of years.

vvviola Mon 02-Dec-13 21:35:35

In NZ for Christmas and feeling a bit sorry for myself about it because nothing feels "right". Especially was we are going to MIL's sister's house and there's not going to be turkey & we'll have to go back to our B&B for 4 hours in the middle of the day before we're allowed dessert.

So I'm finding it very hard to get into the Christmas spirit, which is very unlike me.

We will have Christmas Eve at home though so I'm planning some fun Christmas things for DDs and a really nice breakfast of fruit and pastries and chocolate grin before we hit the road for the 2 hour drive down to MIL.

arfishy Tue 03-Dec-13 00:39:18

Christmas in Sydney here.

We're going to start off the day with bucks fizz in the pool (and obligatory photo for the folks at home) and have a huuuuge Christmas Dinner outside regardless of temperature - turkey, roasties, roast parsnips, stuffing (imported Paxo), gravy (imported Bisto), sprouts (if we can get some), cauliflower cheese, yorkshire puddings, peas, carrots, carrot and swede mash.

I have a christmas cake that I've been feeding brandy for 2 years grin

We'll have a real tree and some nutcracker soldiers - we have no mantelpiece or bannisters for the holly/wreaths so no other decorations really. I have a wreath made of bells which sounds like reindeer for the front door.

We do the Aussie Christmas on Boxing Day - seafood from the fish markets and a barbeque.

I think we are having fellow expats over on Christmas Day - they have four children so it will be lovely to have a full house.

I really miss the Christmas Markets and dark nights, gluhwein and the whole Christmas atmosphere at home. It's really difficult to feel Christmassy in bright sunshine.

lisianthus Sat 14-Dec-13 08:25:56

Christmas in Perth- just got the tree and the house smells all piney! Will decorate it with strings of popcorn and gingerbread shapes and other things not harmful to marauding toddlers. Seeing a Christmas performance of Peter Pan by the West Australian ballet tomorrow. On Christmas Eve, we will have a picnic out on the lawn until late while the children try to spot Father Christmas among all the stars (and DH checks the Norad Santa tracker!).

The day itself starts with a big fruit salad made from all the gorgeous fruit in season now, cherries, apricots, peaches, strawberries and so on, with a glass of chilled fizz. Having a big ham on the bone for lunch (which I am glazing with a dijon and brown sugar glaze), crayfish, prawns, lots of different salads and trifle to follow. Lots of ham leftovers for the following week, yay!

The children are getting outdoor toys to play with on the grass and the paddling pool to make the most of the weather, and there will probably be a water pistol/bubble fight on the lawn in the late afternoon. Then on with the rest of the long school holidays to mark the end of the year, full of things like tennis and swimming for the children, and fireworks in the gorgeous warm scented evenings for things like New Year and the Festival of Perth. I love the evenings, as the neighbourhood is full of blooming roses, jasmine, murreya and gardenias at this time of year.

CrystalDeCanter Sat 14-Dec-13 08:40:21

Lisianthus that sounds lovely. I'm loving all the stories on here.

Although envious of the snow, as this will be my 7th Christmas here, contrary to what I stated in the OP I've now totally got into the swing of it. We put the tree up today and I blasted Maria Carey's Christmas Album blush out and loved every second. Strangely DH not so happy.

I bought those pom poms and they are gorgeous, will put them in the trees next week, it's going to be 40 degrees on Thursday (ugh) so am hoping they wont self combust and start a bush fire.

lisianthus Sat 14-Dec-13 08:48:24

Ooh! Pom-poms sound like a great idea!

Am loving this thread and now want some feijoa vodka. Last time I was in the snow I was heavily pregnant and slipped and fell flat on my face in the middle of London, breaking my glasses, so v happy without the snow, tbh.

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