It can be hard celebrating a holiday away from family. The first year we were on the opposite side of the country from our extended family, I had a hard time adjusting to a quiet Christmas. Coming from a large family and a large Christmas, this was quite an understatement.

It took us all of five minutes to exchange gifts, then we spent the day snacking on goodie bags people had given us while watching Muppet Christmas Carol on repeat. After that year, I decided to make Christmas and other holidays a big deal. Every year we added new ideas and Christmas became a cherished holiday even in our cozy little home.

Here are some of the things we’ve done throughout the years to make our Christmas away from home extra special.

  1. Ditch the yoga pants- Just for today. Dress up a little and if you’re feeling a little crazy, put some makeup on.
  2. Make a big meal- Plan ahead and prepare a feast for your family. Go the extra mile and fix things that aren’t normally on the menu.
  3. Make the table pretty- Use christmas dishes or just fancy napkins. Today is a great day to use that centerpiece you bought at Home Goods, but don’t use because it’s not practical.
  4. Invite someone to join your table- There’s always someone who would otherwise be alone. Their company will make the day extra special. Not only for you, but for them.
  5. Read the Christmas Story from Luke 2
  6. Play Christmas music and sing along- Music is so nostalgic and uplifting and will make your home feel very Christmasy.
  7. Put a fire in the fireplace- If you have this option, it makes for a fun, cozy atmosphere. Its also a great way to get rid of all the wrapping paper laying around.
  8. Play a board game- There are so many fun options to choose from. Pick one that suits your family.
  9. Make a birthday cake for Jesus- Have the kids decorate it; then serve it later for dessert, complete with lit candles and the “Happy Birthday Song.”
  10. Play with your kids- Get on the floor and let them show you their new toys.
  11. Start a big puzzle- Put a christmas movie in, grab a cup of coffee, and sit around the table for a fun evening of piecing together a puzzle.
  12. Make gingerbread houses- Facetime your family across the country and have them be the judges.
  13. Give extra hugs and kisses- Choose to be extra loving and kind. I’m sure you’re family will agree… if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
  14. Take a walk- Bundle up and take a stroll around your neighborhood, checking out all the cool Christmas lights and making room for dessert.
  15. Put special snacks out- Make some sugar cookies, buckeyes, or little smokies and put them out on the counter for your family to enjoy throughout the day.
  16. Watch a Christmas movie together- Put your jammies on and see how many people you can crowd on one couch to watch a Christmas movie.

If you are celebrating this year away from extended family: First, know you are missed. Secondly, choose to be intentional about your day. And thirdly, share with me what you do to make your day special. I love hearing from you! 🙂    

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  1. Reply


    December 14, 2016

    Some years seems harder than others to be away from family, but we have always tried hard to make the day extra special and we have done alot of things on your list!

    • Reply


      December 17, 2016

      Its no secret you… you are the inspiration for many items on this list! <3

  2. Reply


    December 17, 2016

    I moved from the US to Australia when I was 19. Not only did I have to adjust to Christmas without my family, I also had to adjust to Christmas in Summer! Now I wouldn’t have it any other way. You Northern Hemispherians really don’t know what you’re missing.

    • Reply


      December 17, 2016

      I’m sure that was a huge adjustment! Now you’ve got me wondering what I’m missing… 🙂 Wishing you a wonderful Christmas in Australia!

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