Realizing that you’re going to miss holidays can become one of the biggest considerations when deciding to teach abroad. While you will be joining the First Leap family when you come to China, the thought of not opening gifts or gorging on traditional food with close family back home might scare you off. But spending holidays abroad doesn’t have to be sad. You can create new traditions for yourself and use the day to get closer to your new friends and coworkers.

Here are five ways you can celebrate holidays abroad and still be happy:

Organize Your Own Celebration

This will be the most work, but it also has the potential to be the most rewarding. By hosting a dinner for your new friends you have the chance to continue on some of your traditions from home while learning about how other people celebrate. Ask people to bring a dish to pass so the work isn’t totally on you. Organizing a dinner for a holiday that’s only celebrated in your country is also a fun way to introduce your friends from other countries to a bit of your culture. Dishes that seem totally normal to you might seem exotic and the sharing of traditions will only bring you closer to your expat friends.

Find an Expat Event in Your Town

This may be difficult if you live in a smaller city that doesn’t have a lot of expats, but many hotels, bars, and restaurants will organize special events around the holidays. You usually need to book in advance, so keep your eyes open as the holiday season rolls around. These events are usually fairly costly, but they can be a nice way to celebrate without going to the trouble of having to cook yourself. Especially since it can be a struggle to find the ingredients you need! While sitting in a hotel restaurant might not be the same as gathering around the table with your family, years later you’ll always remember that kind of weird Christmas you spent in China.

Do Something Extra Special

Depending on the holiday, you may find yourself in China working on that special day. If you don’t have the time to organize a party or attend an event, take some time out of your day to do something extra special. Is there a restaurant that you’ve been meaning to try but it’s a little out of your usual price range? Make a reservation! Have you been eyeing a new winter coat but aren’t sure if you should spend the money? Splurge! Treating yourself on a holiday away from

Chat With Family and Friends Back Home

You might be thousands of miles and ten time zones away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate with your family at all. Technology has made keeping in touch so much easier and the holidays are definitely the time to get that video chat up and running. Set up a time to talk and you can join in some gift opening or turkey carving from your apartment in China. Even if you just make a quick call or send a text, reach out to the people you care about back home. Not only will you feel a little closer to the festivities, but your family will appreciate seeing your face as well.


If you have time off around the holidays, it might a good time to plan a trip. Immersing yourself in a new language, culture, and cuisine is a good way to forgot about what you are missing back home. Holiday travel always requires an extra bit of planning. Traveling around Christmas? It might be more expensive to visit countries that also celebrate. You’ll also want to check that things in your destination won’t be closed for the holiday as well. And if it’s also a public holiday in China, be advised that you’ll need to book train and bus tickets well in advance.

Embrace Memories of Your Holidays in China!

Being away from home doesn’t mean that you can’t create memories over the holidays.  In fact, many of our teachers have found their own traditions and forged friendships with other expats while they celebrate holidays together in China.  No matter your background or family traditions, being overseas during the holidays gives you a chance to break out and form new traditions — making special memories with new people that you will cherish for years to come.