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1st time abroad at Christmas- help!

(25 Posts)
yongnian Thu 29-Sep-16 19:25:14

Rather excitingly we are going abroad for Christmas this year - to stay with people who are as close as family (not sharing accom but separate quarters in adjoining property). We stay with the them regularly at other times of the year, but never before at Christmas. We will be in a home-from-home situation.
Obviously have limited baggage capacity as flying (though have paid for a bit more allowance than usual). So am wondering about present-taking, for our 2 DDs (will-be 11 and 2.9) and for our 'family' (couple in 60's, daughter and baby). DD1 also has a birthday whilst we're there!! (She's going to have a celebration with her friends before we leave)
Will arrive a few days beforehand so can obviously do some shopping whilst there...but am thinking it might be best to take a 'main' present and get smaller bits/stocking fillers there (vv nice choices in nearby shops etc).
DD1 is a tech head so her main could be easy and portable (1st smartphone - will go down well).
DD2's main is a bit harder - she has been asking for a scooter and a bike. Bike obvs not feasible with plane....2 year old presents are often big and bulky aren't they?? She is ultra-busy and will need lots to do...
Also presents for 'family' - would like to bring traditional stuff from here...but again, must be portable.
They are big on home-made produce and make stuff a lot...was thinking to make some plum vodka with fruit from our tree and decant into small-ish decorative bottles - it will be ready by Christmas and they will like this.
But what else??
I plan to take kids stockings obvs and small selection of our family decs, plus make a point of buying some out there to keep and add to our collection, so that's covered.
Food-wise, it will be lavish, big foodie traditions there, but again, I would like to bring some small portable things from home to bring a UK twist. But what?
We will no doubt do some collective things as well as spend time just the 4 of us so would like to import some of our family traditions for when it's just us (ie feet up watching crap telly and eating quality street etc) but again it needs to be port-a-Christmas.
Please help oh MN Christmas goddesses - I am a bit paralysed at the mo! Any ideas about my various dilemmas will be gratefully received- I am not actually very good at Christmas in my own culture, let alone someone else's!!!!

AmyAmoeba Fri 30-Sep-16 22:45:08

Sounds like you'll have a lovely time.

a lot of what you'll need over there could be ordered online and delivered to save you hauling it in your suitcase. Even your homemade bits could be packaged up and posted. Presents can be ordered on Amazon and even gift wrapped for you.

Anything you do bring needs to be light weight and compact so I'd be thinking along the lines of
Adult gifts: Scarves, tie, jewellery, CDs, DVDs, gloves,
Food: biscuits, crackers, chocolates,
Children's gifts: play silks, dress up clothes, jigsaws, fuzzy felt,

Are Christmas crackers usual where you're going? If not they could be a fun uk addition to dinner, and they weigh little. A traditional English trifle could be whipped up if you brought the key ingredients like custard, sponge fingers and jelly powder but got the fruit, and cream when you arrive.

A scooter is quite manageable, folded up, in a hold all. For the bike, you could give a token gift like a helmet or bike lock or the bike bell and some cute photographs of her dolls at home playing with the new bike. Is the bike from Santa? He'd know that it would be best to deliver it to her home address, and the rest to the holiday home - he's clever like that.

You might need to book in an extra bag for the way home for presents received.

you can minimise clothes packing by picking a simple colour scheme and making sure every piece of clothing can be worn in a couple of different ways. Browse travel forums and cruise forums for great tips for packing light for a variety of different situations.

Hope that's enough to get you started. I'm sure you'll have a brilliant Christmas.

dillyduck Fri 30-Sep-16 23:08:14

Where in the world is it?

We go away most years. I often order from amazon and it is all waiting for me on arrival. You would then only have to bring back the stuff not take it with you and the children may well be carrying some of it by that point! Family games etc could be left for your hosts or your next trip to bring back.

In the USA I pre-order for collection and go and pick everything up gift wrapped on Christmas Eve (common thing that stores offer there)

Can you post the Christmas stuff such as stockings and then post them back afterwards?

You will need to set up the smartphone SIM and activate it in the phone before you go with international access or it might not work if you set it up abroad with a UK SIM.

Davros Sat 01-Oct-16 08:19:48

Sounds exciting. I thought frackers too but I've heard you're not allowed to take them on planes

yongnian Sat 01-Oct-16 13:00:29

Brilliant ideas, thank you! I knew there'd be some good solutions out there, just couldn't get past my brain freeze! Pre-ordering is a great idea.
It's France dilly.
Yes, that's true about the crackers - not allowed on the plane. Just read it on easyjet's site.

Ragwort Sat 01-Oct-16 13:08:09

We often go away for Christmas and one of the big things for us to make it different from home - we just take a few stocking fillers (and buy a few more out there), eat whatever is relevant in that country to eat, enjoy other traditions. I seriously wouldn't bother about posting stuff out there and posting stuff back. Still missing some things that were meant to be posted back to me after a holiday 40 years ago. grin.

Enjoy your holiday ............... and try to relax smile.

Artandco Sat 01-Oct-16 13:19:39

For two year old I would just take small stocking gifts, and some bits they can play with there. Then have a running bike as main gift for on return. They won't mind santa left bike at home due to size.

Take things in stocking 2 year old can use as entertainment whilst away, books like where's wally style, a new bedtime story, a small drawing pad and large grip pencils, some small schleich play animals ( last forever)

For both children include edible items to fill stockings, but can be eaten before you leave. Can buy locally. Like a mini chocolate milk in France, with some little biscuits for 2 year old and some local chocolate or chocolate santa etc for elder

yongnian Sat 01-Oct-16 13:29:26

True true ragwort - left to my own devices it's absolutely what I'd do...but DD1 is autistic and despite this being one of her favourite places to go, is struggling with the idea of it being 'different' than when we go in summer, as well as being 'different' from her usual Christmas and birthday at home...so am just looking for ways to ease the transition really - I know she'll actually love the French traditions when we get there - she just doesn't know it yet!! grin
Edible stocking fillers...oh yes...grin grin
Good points about busy presents from a few posters there - there is an amazing toyshop locally crammed with the stuff.
I think 2 yo (nearer to 3) who'll be watching big sister have first a birthday then Christmas with main pressies might not be able to fob her off with at least one decent thing but thing the foldy scooter is a great idea.

RTKangaMummy Sat 01-Oct-16 13:32:24

We went to MALDIVES for Christmas and DID take crackers with us BUT we pulled out the explosive strip beforehand

So they were just paper, cardboard and toy iyswim so safe for planes

Then when we came to pull them we did like on "The Good Life" sitcom when they had a homemade Christmas and as we pulled them shouted "CRACK" or "BANG" etc gringringrin

It was great fun and the others in the restaurant smiled when they saw us with our crackers and paper hats gringringringringrin

Blowninonabreeze Sat 01-Oct-16 13:32:46

My 2 year old got fancy dress when we went away for Christmas last year. It packs down quite small. Plus clothes for her baby

RTKangaMummy Sat 01-Oct-16 13:37:06

To pull the explosive out just put your fingers in the end bit and you should be able to feel it so wiggle around a bit and then it should be able to be released

Have a deffo brill holiday

smilesmilesmile

namechangedtoday15 Sat 01-Oct-16 13:47:09

Went skiing last Christmas with just carry on luggage & 3 children. Flat packed cardboard Christmas tree and zillions of stickers - took them hours to decorate it. Lots of fairy lights. Stockings.

Presents - tablet for youngest, phones for older ones. Colouring books, board games (with fairly flat boxes), books, notebooks, new felt tips / highlighters. Small clothes / accessories / mini lip balms etc.

Left key with neighbour so they put another lot of (more bulky) presents out and explained that Santa must have got mixed up and not known whether to leave presents at home or hotel!

yongnian Sat 01-Oct-16 13:50:55

Haha brilliant rtkanga I can just picture you all!
Fancy dress and baby clothes good one blowin
namechange that's awesome - did you take ski gear as well??!! Some great ideas

yongnian Sat 01-Oct-16 13:51:40

And fairy lights...oh yesssss...

mouldycheesefan Sat 01-Oct-16 13:54:56

Friends in France say they miss Christmas Santa hat type cheesy stuff and Xmas music.
Mince pies!

Davros Sat 01-Oct-16 14:37:18

Is it that easy to get Anazon deliveries sent to you abroad? I had real trouble about 3 years ago getting something sent to me in Austria. I gave up. I would check carefully if you try to do this

dillyduck Sat 01-Oct-16 14:41:02

Is it that easy to get Anazon deliveries sent to you abroad? I had real trouble about 3 years ago getting something sent to me in Austria. I gave up. I would check carefully if you try to do this

Yes you just set up an account in the country that you want. I have USA and UK amazon accounts. My dm has UK and Spanish

Davros Sat 01-Oct-16 14:50:19

Now I know!
I sound like a right misery - don't take crackers, don't order on amazon!
DO ENJOY!

SolomanDaisy Sat 01-Oct-16 14:50:24

It's v easy to have Amazon uk stuff sent abroad, I get it all the time! For the crackers you'll be able to find somewhere that ships inside France that sells them. Hema do in the Netherlands.

SolomanDaisy Sat 01-Oct-16 14:51:52

I have de, .com and .co.uk Amazon accounts btw and all ship to the Netherlands no problem!

Artandco Sat 01-Oct-16 14:58:42

I used Amazon de account to get deliveries quick to Austria

yongnian Sat 01-Oct-16 15:34:00

Do they have Amazon prime with foreign accounts......? grin

confuugled1 Sat 01-Oct-16 16:08:02

How about one of [[http://www.hobbycraft.co.uk/wall-hanging-felt-christmas-tree-90cm/609008-1000 these felt christmas tree] wall hangings from Hobbycraft?

They're only £6 and there's money off if you join their free club too.

You could put it up at home and then take it with you - would give some continuity for this year and wouldn't take up much space.

Any special christmas dvds that you usually watch that you can take with you? If you take several you can take them in a little holder rather than take them in their boxes to take up less space.

I can highly recommend the Tom and Jerry A Nutcracker's Tale (it's usually about £3 on Amazon) - my dc have been watching it since they were tiny and now at 11 and 8 they still love it at Christmas. It's the nutcracker ballet music with the story retold in inimitable T&J style so it's not a really annoying kiddie style film soundtrack. And lots of it is very very funny, there's very little spoken language so great if different people have different languages.

Can you make sure that you have small portable advent calendars to take with you?

Can you write special letters to Santa (for the youngest) to explain that you will be somewhere different and flying home on the plane so if he does have any big presents then please can he leave them for you at home but you will have your stocking with you so please could you have that in France. And maybe spend some time looking at french xmas traditions with your eldest to find one that sounds a really nice idea (having checked with your friends that it's possible!) so that there's one thing that she is looking forward to.

My local Sainsburys had some lovely little coloured kilner bottles that would have been great for home made plum vodka etc - but would you be allowed to take that on planes? Or can you only take booze that has has been bottled and labelled properly to show alcohol percentage etc?

Also big up the 'second christmas' when you get home - get the dc involved in deciding exactly when you will have it when you get home (as soon as you walk through the door, the next day, two days later, new year's day etc) so that there's a definite plan and there won't be worries about favourite bits of the usual traditional christmas going missing.

And if you do get your dd a phone, do check out what will happen if she switches it on for the first time in France - you don't want to find out that it has decided it's a french phone that you get charged to unlock from a french network! Or that you end up spending £££ because it downloads everything it needs to set up using roaming data or whatever. Might be worth seeing if you need to set it up in advance and have a cheap local data card (or check if your hosts have wifi that they don't mind her using) as she might be upset if she gets a phone and then can't do anything with it because she's in France!

Also check out the Christmas Bargain threads in the Christmas section - there are some great ideas on there for all sorts of presents, including portable ones. If your youngest is old enough for playmobil, you can often get it cheaper online from amazon.de rather than the UK amazon for example, even including postage from germany to the uk so guess it would be even better value in France, if your hosts are happy to receive parcels for you.
Hope you all have a fab Christmas break fgrin

yongnian Sun 02-Oct-16 13:04:40

Thanks confuugled - as with everyone who's contributed such great ideas which I will definitely use. smile

Davros Sun 02-Oct-16 17:04:11

So can you set up a non-U.K. Amazon account with a U.K. Address and in £? Sorry to be dim!
Also, don't take DVDs, buy an Apple TV or equivalent. We take ours everywhere

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