This year I’m spending Christmas in the US and as I’ve only had one festive period when I’ve not gone home to the UK since I moved here I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m going to make my holidays as British as possible. Let’s be honest that’s the best way to not be homesick, probably (it might have the opposite effect). I thought that I’d share some of the tips that I’ve thought of with you.
1. Buy a really underwhelming tree. Nobody needs a huge alpha tree that’s just been plucked from a mighty forest. Instead, buy a sickly shrub from a local garden centre that will shed its needles faster than you return the orange cardigan that the aunt you see once a year thought was “just your style”.
2. Take Boxing Day off from work (if you can). It just isn’t Christmas if you have to go back to work the day after, like who decided that one day off for Christmas was acceptable? Send that out of the office email and refuse to think about work until you’ve eaten the leftover turkey or until your relatives have made you wish you were back in the office.
3. Buy some British tins of Christmas chocolate (you can get these pretty easily at import stores or online) and sneakily eat all your favourites. Sit there smugly as a relative complains that “someone ate all of the good ones”. Then do the same with the selection box of biscuits (cookies to our American friends).
4. Pretend to be interested in the Queen’s speech. Let’s be honest, it’s all just background noise and nobody really cares what HRH is saying but at least half of the Americans you’ve met have asked if you’ve met her so why not pretend to be a staunch royalist. Plus it doesn’t have adverts in the middle of it so it’s immediately a better experience than most American TV.
5. Listen to British Christmas songs. If you live in the US a lot of the songs us Brits love aren’t well known so you won’t have been sick of hearing them since the day after Thanksgiving. I can recommend Stop the Cavalry by Jona Lewie for those who like songs with a message and Christmas Time by the Darkness for those who like something with more electric guitars. Avoid Cliff Richard at all costs, I mean always avoid Cliff Richard but especially at Christmas. One of my friends here had not heard of Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and like can we even be friends now? You should also make it a mission to spread the love for the best Christmas song of all time.
6. Buy Christmas crackers (they are gaining in popularity in the US, I’ve even seen them in Target) and sneakily hold on to the middle when you pull them with someone else so you are guaranteed to get the free toy/item inside. My other tip is to accidentally on purpose rip the paper hat that comes with the cracker as you’re putting it on so you don’t have to wear it for the rest of the day.
7. Claim that you have to stop playing the traditional Christmas game of Monopoly because it’s time for bed when really it’s because you’re losing and you hate Monopoly with the fiery passion you usually reserve for hating the festive credit card bill. In fact, try paying the credit card bill with Monopoly money; nobody will be able to make you play if you’ve given all the Monopoly money away.
Do you have any tips that you’d like to share with me? What makes a good festive period for you?