Around the world there are hundreds of thousands of military families far from home this holiday season. Some families (like us) are half way around the world from their nearest and dearest, which is about as far as you can get. Sounds slightly daunting, right?
But there is an upside to everything…
You can live far away from family, and still feel happiness, joy and peace this holiday season. There are several creative ways to keep in touch with far away family, in addition to building a new ‘family’ right where you live.
Be encouraged. As a military family you can thrive during the holidays despite the most unconventional circumstances. This may just be your best holiday season yet!
Creative Ways to Connect with Far Away Family
-Throw a virtual holiday party. Using your trusty Skype or Google Hangouts, throw a Christmas party in your home and allow far away family to video conference during the party. I personally favor Google Hangouts because you can chat with multiple friends and family at the same time for FREE. You can also do it the opposite way and video conference during a Christmas party your parents, siblings or other close relatives are hosting. Set a date and time so everyone commits and shows up. This is a great way to share in the holidays together when you cannot be in the same location.
-Complete a Christmas Craft together. Choose a holiday craft or activity for kids to do, and Skype or video chat together while you do the craft. Check out these 25 Easy Christmas Crafts for Kids if you need some inspiration. This is a great way for kids to connect and feel like they actually did something together.
-Use recorded books. This is a great way for aunts, uncles and grandparents to stay connected to kids during the holidays. A family member can purchase a Recordable Book and read the story with their voice. Afterward, send it to the child far from home and allow him to enjoy you reading the story. He could even open the gift over Skype initially and you could share with him how the book works. My personal favorite is Where Ever You Are My Love Will Find You because it helps kids far from family feel comforted and close to loved ones.
-Create a faraway Christmas tradition. This means you can create a tradition with a family member far away. Maybe the tradition is that you write and send a Christmas letter every year. Or maybe the tradition is that you Skype and bake Christmas cookies together. Or maybe the tradition is that you ring in the New Year together via Skype. It could be anything, but the goal is to do the same thing together every year, creating a faraway tradition and feeling connected.
-Encourage kids to send pictures and letters to each other. This is a fun way for kids to keep in touch, especially during the holidays. Receiving a letter and a picture in the mail from a cousin or friend can make a child’s entire holiday season.
-Organize a unique gift exchange. Even though you are far from family, you can still do a gift exchange amongst each other. It could be a themed gift exchange—kitchen, entertainment, books, homemade, as seen on TV, etc.—anything goes. Then pick names and everyone sends a gift to someone far away. Again for an added bonus, open the gifts together over Skype or Google Hangouts. Just remember to send the gifts in plenty of time. One year I got this Magic Morning Coffee Mug Set, and I would definitely give them in a gift exchange. The mugs have eyes which are closed until you put coffee in it, and then the eyes open 🙂 How cool is that?
-Snap a photo during Skype. Okay, this might sound silly, but sometimes we take a screen shot with the computer while we are Skyping with family. You could even order a print and use it on a Christmas card or Picture Frame like this one! It’s kinda quirky, but this is the season of your life right now. This is what living far from family looks like sometimes, and it’s okay to display that proudly in your home or on a Christmas card.
Creative Ways to Connect with your Community
-Host a holiday pot luck. Throw an awesome holiday party and the people will come. Keep it simple and throw a pot luck. It’s a simple way to connect with others and celebrate the holidays with friends in your community. Use this awesome free program called Perfect Potluck to make sure there is a good diverse amount of food.
-Replicate traditions from home. Traditions can help you feel festive and closer to home. We personally don’t have any traditions in our home, which you can read more about here. Someday we probably will. Either way, holiday traditions are a great way to feel closer to home. Find familiarity where you are living and make the most of it.
-Host an ornament/cookie/toy exchange. Organize some of the fellow military families in your area and do an ornament, cookie or toy exchange. For the ornament exchange, purchase a brand new ornament and do similar to a gift exchange. I absolutely love this Frozen Olaf Christmas Tree Ornament! It’s the most popular ornament this season! For a cookie exchange, have everyone bring about 3 dozen cookies and exchange amongst each other. For a toy exchange, bring in gently used toys and swap amongst each other. This is also an awesome way to save money during the holidays. Everyone gets ‘new’ toys without spending a dime.
-Open your heart. Be willing to allow your new friends to become your family. It isn’t easy to be far from loved ones, but we are all in this together going through the same exact thing. Open your heart and your home to others in your community. It will make the holidays all the more special for everyone.
-Choose happiness. The holidays can feel very lonely sometimes. But we all choose whether to make the holidays a horribly sad time or one heck of a fantastically epic time. This holiday season choose happiness, joy, and peace. Decide that this Christmas will be special and festive and wonderful. When you choose happiness, it will come to fruition. Your Christmas will become what you wish it.
You may also like…
- 30 Perfect Christmas Games for Families
- 20 Awesome Toddler Stocking Stuffers for Under $10
- When Parenting Alone Gets Lonely in Military Life
- How to Survive the Holidays Along During Deployment
Do you think military families thrive during the holiday season?