Expat Life: How to Have a British Christmas in America

This year will be my first Christmas day away from home.  I’ve spent every year doing the same traditions and to be honest, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without them!  Now I’m living in America, I’m going to bring a few of my UK traditions to my US life!

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I’ve been surprised at how early people have put their Christmas lights/decorations up here in America.  My other half said it’s because people try to beat the coldness, it’s not fun to decorate the outside of your house when it’s below freezing!  On the 20th November, I even went on a ‘Holiday Tour of Homes’.  You pay $5 (which goes to charity) which gives you access to 5 homes.  You put on little blue ‘booties’ and the owner lets you wander around and view their Christmas decorations and home decor.  One of the 5 homes is called the ‘Cookie House’ where you get free cookies and hot apple cider!  It’s a fun afternoon but it does mean their house has to be decorated by the middle of November!

Advent Calendars

In the UK, although the shops are stocking Christmas items pretty much in August, it doesn’t really kick off until the very beginning of December.  For me, it begins with an advent calendar!  I love the simple chocolate calendars (any excuse to have chocolate for breakfast!)  I always try and guess what shape the chocolate will be behind each numbered door before I open it!  My Mum really likes the traditional nativity scene calendars where each door just reveals a picture rather than chocolate.  When I was younger we also had a miniature Christmas tree, each day you’d open a little drawer that held an ornament to decorate the tree with.  On the 25th, you put the angel on the top!  Advent Calendars have come a long way, you can buy some really crazy ones!  Such as: Calendars with different smelling soaps each day, different flavoured tea bags and Lego pieces that build a model after 24 days!

Elf Magic Chocolate Advent Calendar $6.59

Decorations

Chocolate Tree Decorations apparently aren’t a ‘thing’ in America!  My Mum must be able to read my mind from 4000 miles away, I was only recently thinking ‘Oh man my tree has no chocolate on!’ and what should turn up in the post a couple of days later…Christmas Tree Chocolates!  They are chocolates that come with a little piece of gold string attached to them so they can hang from a tree branch!

Tree Chocolate

Food

  • Yorkshire Puddings.  A simple batter similar to a crepe mix (eggs, flour and milk), poured into a cupcake tin and baked in the oven.  Here’s a recipe for Toad in the Hole which is sausages in Yorkshire Pudding!
  • Pigs in Blankets.  Pigs in Blankets aren’t the same in America.  In the UK, Pigs in Blankets are little cocktail sausages wrapped in bacon and they are yummy!
  • Sausage Rolls.  Just to confuse things, sausage rolls are like American ‘Pigs in Blankets’ which are little hot dog sausages wrapped in pastry.  In the UK our Sausage Rolls are made with sausage meat, giving them a slightly different taste!  I love eating cold sausage rolls, they are great to take to gatherings as well as you can make bite sized ones!
  • Tins of Chocolates and Biscuits (cookies).  In the UK there are SO many different tins of chocolate that appear at Christmas; Miniature Heroes, Quality Street, Celebrations, Roses to name a few.  My Mum shipped me over some Celebrations as a present!  As mentioned in my British Gift Guide post a few weeks back, I was desperate for a biscuit tin because you just can’t get small packets of biscuits here!  However, now it’s Christmas, biscuit tins have appeared in Walmart!  In all different sizes!  With PROPER biscuits!  I was so excited to find them that I bought a little tin!

If you happen to live near an Aldi, they are great for setting you up for a European Christmas! I found: tree chocolates, advent calendars, stollen (heavy cake with raisins) and panettone (brioche style cake with fruit)!

Christmas Crackers

This tradition has been a little bit complicated.  Christmas Crackers tend to be put on the Christmas Tree until the main Christmas dinner when they are laid out with the place settings.  They are decorated tubes where 2 people take one end each and pull them apart.  They contain a paper crown, a really bad joke and usually a silly little item or toy.  I didn’t want to chance getting my Mum to ship me any as they contain gun powder and you can’t normally fly with them.  I done some research online and read articles by other British Expats.  Some had managed to find a small selection in shops such as Target, however, if it’s a State that isn’t allowed to sell fireworks, such as Iowa, it then means poor ole harmless Christmas Crackers get knocked on the head too.  There are American websites that sell them, but I found them to be quite expensive.  However Amazon saved me!

12 Christmas Crackers – Elegant Gold and Cream Print $16.95

I was able to find 12 crackers for around $20.  I just think they bring a little extra fun to the dinner table 🙂

Music

My all time favourite Christmas song is ‘Band Aid’…no it’s not about something you stick over a cut!  It was first released as a charity single back in 1984 to raise money for the famine in Africa.  The recording consists of a mash up of loads of the biggest British and Irish artists.  It then got remade on its 20th anniversary back in 2004 and then again on its 30th in 2014.

These are some of my favourite British traditions!  What are some of your favourite Christmas traditions in your home country?  Check out some of these Spanish Christmas traditions that I found when I visited Barcelona!

Kylie Signature

*Disclosure: Please note Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking.  It comes at no extra cost to you but it helps me with the running of this site!  As always, opinions are my own.

How To Have a British Christmas In America

 

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2 thoughts on “Expat Life: How to Have a British Christmas in America

  1. There is quite a bit of discussion going on here at the moment about Christmas as we already had turkey for Thanksgiving, I made bread sauce just in case and took it to my sister-in-law’s LOL. I am about to put our outside lights up, but we won’t do the tree until the day before Christmas Eve. My favorite Christmas song is Wombling Merry Christmas, but then I was already 18 for the first Band Aid. Mince pies don’t seem to be a thing here, so I’ll be making some while the kids do sugar cookies. I’m excited as it has snowed twice already here. But this will be the first time I have been with my sisters, so that will be weird and a bit sad!

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    1. Haha I’m not a fan of Turkey, I always eat sausages in bacon for Christmas dinner! My tree has been up ages because it was cheap at Walmart and we wanted to make sure all the lights worked! Wombling Merry Christmas is it great 😀 We had the first snow on Sunday eek, I got wheel spin trying to get back on the drive! Awh! My in laws are paying for me to go home! They surprised me on my birthday the other day so I land on the UK on the 28th! I just miss Christmas Day but it’s better than nothing 🙂

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