Have you found yourself away from home, family and friends this holiday season? For most people, holidays are about surrounding yourself with love and affection. Unfortunately, the "holiday blues" can quickly sneak up on you if you're away from home during this time. Stop! Don't start spending your nights buried in a sad holiday movie like Jack Frost (seriously, saddest holiday movie ever), sipping hot tea alone and singing the holiday blues! Instead, follow these tips to turn that frown upside down. We've got three whole months of this holiday cheer folks, so you're going to want to figure out how to make the most of it. I've gathered an expert team of military spouses/bloggers who've spent too many holidays to count away from home and we've got just the advice to keep you sane and happy this holiday season.
1. Spend your time traveling. If you have the funds and time available to you and the desire to see exciting new places, travel!
Laurie from The Paisley Olive always has big traveling plans. "One year we went to Seoul, Korea and this year it's Bali. Instead of missing memories back home we're making our own, just different."
Traveling can make it easier to cope with being away from family by exploring new places. It takes your mind off the fact that you might not have a "normal holiday" experience.
2. Find family away from home. Although the dictionary definition of family is "blood relatives," when you are far from home, anyone can become your family.
Ashley from Forever Fernweh put it simply: "I think you can make your own family. In North Carolina, we threw a thanksgiving every year where people brought their favorite dish and we have continued it for Christmas Eve here in Japan. It makes the best parties because everyone has different traditions. We will have egg rolls, Spanish rice, tacos, you name it at our holiday events and they are just as fun as with family."
What's so great about blood relatives anyway? Love you, mom... *wink*
3. Make up your own traditions. There is a lot of pressure to be with certain people during the holidays because there are particular traditions you do together. It does not have to be that way if you make up your own traditions!
Bernadette from OkinawaLive! decided to embrace the freedom of trying something new: "My husband and I greatly enjoy being able to create our own traditions free of family expectations for the holidays. This last year, we skipped the crowds and instead of buying gifts for each other, took some extra days off of work to be with each other. This removed all of the pressure of buying the right thing, spending the right amount of money, and hoping the person would like their gift. Of course, we could not admit to our families how easy this was, but we are perfectly happy to do it again!"
How's that for making up a new tradition? Do the unconventional thing and skip the presents and opt for spending time together -- maybe even trying out those new games on sale at Christmas time.
4. Surround yourself with festive décor. My personal favorite tip is to spruce up your place with some festive décor! Of course another one of my fellow military spouses has some great tips on "Loving Your Space" and decorating for fall, even so far from home!
Kathryn from Up To Date Interiors has the most swoon-worthy fall home despite being so far from America. She has become a source of great holiday decorating inspiration. Even all the way in Japan, she has been able to bring a little piece of the holidays through home décor and it makes me giddy checking out all of her brilliant ideas -- like those velvet pumpkins.
Even if it is just a few lights, a Christmas tree, haunted house, fake leaves... anything. If you're in a location that does not have weather that resonates with the holiday season, it's especially important to "fake it until you make it". Big or small, this kind of décor will remind you that no matter where you are, you can bring your own slice of the holidays to you. Few things in life make me happier than coming home to the sweet smell of a pumpkin spice candle, putting on snuggly pajamas and staring at the twinkling Christmas lights. Of course, things will never replace the timeless memories shared with family, but surrounding yourself with familiarity can calm the nerves and the holiday blues. I have scoured Pinterest this year looking for festive décor to create myself and I've made a few things here and there to feel more cheery -- I've even included my young daughter in our decorating! We've shared some great things on the blog to get you in the holiday spirit so check them out!
5. Spread Holiday Cheer to Others. Finally, a fool-proof way to give you the warm and fuzzies inside is to share the holiday cheer with others. This could involve volunteering, singing, or even creating your own special event.
Hannah from Fun Flying Four holds an, "Orphan Thanksgiving/Christmas where people who do not have anywhere to go can come together. There is always plenty of food (and wine!) and gift giving is not allowed, it is strictly about spending time with other people." Hannah also describes a way she sends the holiday cheer back home, "we put all my family's names in a hat (grandparents, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles) and my husband, daughters and I take turns pulling names out of the hat. We then write a little blurb about why we are thankful for that person and then send it to them in an envelope for them to open on Thanksgiving when all the rest of the family is together. We do it for them, because they struggle having us so far and I know they love reading them."
Nothing feels better than making other people happy. Isn't that what the holidays are about in the first place?