Christmas Abroad Survival Guide

Christmas Abroad Survival GuideOne of the few drawbacks of living abroad is spending the holidays without your family. I can confidently say that I have the coolest, most amazing family (many others [non-related] would absolutely vouch for me) – so the holidays are rough away from home. Christmas isn’t the biggest holiday in Korea (or even the 2nd or 3rd biggest), but I’ve been attempting to get into the Christmas spirit, regardless. So here’s a guide to anybody else who might be spending the holidays family-less as well:

Best Christmas Movies to Watch (in no order):

1. Home Alone
2. The Holiday
3. Christmas Vacation
4. The Polar Express
5. Love Actually
6. Elf

Best Christmas Songs to Listen to:

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear”

1. “All I Want For Christmas is You” – Mariah Carey. Obviously. Okay the entire Mariah Carey Christmas album, which you can find here.

2. “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” – Nsync (+ the rest of their Christmas album, which you can listen to here.)

3. “Carol of the Bells” and “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” – Transiberian Orchestra

4. “Let it Snow” – Boyz II Men

5. The entire Celine Dion Christmas Album (“These Are Special Times”) – yes I’m serious. My mom was/is a huge Celine fan.

Okay, or you can (and should) just listen to my YouTube Christmas Playlist, which has all of the above + Britney Spears, John Lennon, Glee and more. You’re welcome.

Festive Drinks and Food to Make:

1. Bailey’s + Hot Chocolate

2. Eggnog + Rum/Brandy (if the country you’re in doesn’t have eggnog, there are some fairly easy recipes here and here)

3. Christmas Cookies – Sugar Cookie recipe from my friend Allison’s blog, ItsyBitsyIndulgences here.

4. Butterbeer – because nothing screams Christmas like an alcoholic Harry Potter beverage. Recipe here.

5. Gingerbread Houses – which, by the way, you can turn into a Gingerbread-House-Making party. You can really turn any and all of these items into a party somehow.

6. Marshmallow Shot Glasses – These take a whole lot of effort to make, but are super delicious!

Other Things To Do To Get Into the Christmas Spirit:

1. Do a Secret Santa gift exchange with some friends

2. Have a Christmas dinner with friends (including every single thing on this list)

3. Buy yourself presents. If you, like me, will not be receiving many gifts due to the distance, then buy yourself something nice 🙂

4. Elf Yourself. Because it seriously never gets old.

5. Find Christmas lights! Even though Korea isn’t big on Christmas, a lot of the downtown shopping centers will still decorate. There are also a couple Christmas light festivals. Or just watch these amazing videos:

If You’re a Teacher:

1. Have your kids make Holiday cards for their family/friends/teachers. Even if your kids don’t celebrate Christmas, they can still make “holiday” or “New Years” cards. If they don’t want to make cards for anybody in particular, have them make them for charities – there are plenty of organizations that would LOVE to receive holiday cards for the kids! (,

2. Raise a bit of money for a good cause – my friend Jenn had the brilliant idea to do a “Candy Guessing Jar” where the kids pay 500 won (50 cents) for three guesses on how much candy is in the jar. She ended up raising around 150,000 won for the local orphanage.

3. Teach the kids some Christmas carols, make up a dance, or just listen to Christmas music during other activities (see YouTube playlist above ;))

4. Have the kids make New Years Resolutions or draw/write about next year.

5. Overall, just take advantage of the holiday season to teach your kids something fun and cultural. Play games, spoil them with candy, watch movies, etc. For game ideas and all other things Christmas-y, check out my Pinterest Holiday board 🙂

Happy Holidays everybody 🙂


  1. I miss you, sister!!!!!


  2. […] Christmas Abroad Survival Guide ( […]


  3. Christmas is my favourite holiday and I’ve really missed not being at home for it the last two years. Baileys and Hot chocolate – YES! I don’t know anyone else who drinks this but, oh boy, it acts like a sleeping pill almost. Definitely puts me out early on Christmas Eve.


  4. This is great, love it all!! Thanks so much for linking!


  5. lifechangesii · · Reply

    Hey Kirsten! I sent you a message on facebook telling you how much I love your blog and my goals of traveling abroad solo. You were so helpful. I finally started my blog up!

    Great post btw…Home Alone is my all time fav christmas movie. And great christmas music selection!


  6. Great blog Kirsten. Wish I could take a magic carpet ride to be there for the holidays with you guys. Hope you got the elf get ups in time to use them in your classrooms!


  7. Yes, yes, yes! I did most of these things this year and they definitely helped keep up the holiday spirit while being so far from home. Well, except for the N’Sync album. I didn’t listen to that. Haha.


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