(New) Home for the Holidays

(New) Home for the Holidays

By the time we boarded the plane back to London last Christmas, we were pretty clear that we would be staying in London for Christmas this year. We were grateful to make the trip back home to Boston then, but, overall, the trip felt rushed and crazy. With Christmas in London being so festive and fun, we decided that we’d save on airfare and celebrate Christmas together in our new home, no running around across the ocean required.

I was totally on board with this and, in fact, excited to be spending the season in this Christmas wonderland. It seemed fitting that our first married Christmas would be ours and, possibly, ours alone. But as September rolled around and marked one year of living here, my homesickness really spiked. I started to feel sad to be missing a good opportunity to go home.

When I really thought about it, I was thankful to have the holiday to relax for a couple days after a few crazy months. But I was also feeling really homesick, especially when I’d think about how December was only halfway to my next visit home. A year is too long!

Lucky for me, I got the best Christmas gift anyone could give me and I will be going home this month for a visit!!! Knowing that I will get to go home and see my family soon (and my nephews!) really allowed me to be here and present during the holidays and I am very, very grateful for that.

Since moving here, we’ve been doing our best to make the most of our time here in London and Christmas was no exception.

We put up our Christmas tree the day after our Friendsgiving feast to make the most of the season. After failing to find a little one at a special tree lot, we found the perfect little guy at Sainsburys on the way home.

Andrew and our little Christmas Tree from Sainsburys

It was nice having our flat all decorated for Christmas, especially since we didn’t last year. A little goes a long way in such a small space.

Christmas tree!

When the long Christmas weekend rolled around, we kicked it off a little early by attending the Glory of Christmas at Royal Albert Hall on Thursday. I highly recommend this event to anyone in London near Christmas – it was a blast! The audience was in great spirits and no one was shy in singing along. The conductor was not only very talented, but also hilarious and kept us all entertained throughout the night. A glorious Christmas evening, indeed!

The Glory of Christmas

On Friday, we finished our work weeks a little early and stayed in to watch The Holiday in preparation for our hike through Surrey. The hike was a lot of fun and it was nice to get out to the countryside.

Hiking in Surrey

That evening, we decided to open the bottle of Viognier Andrew’s parents got us for Christmas. I had read online that it pairs well with curries, so we picked up some dinner at Marks & Spencer. It was delightful! We rewatched Star Wars in preparation for the next installment, which we were seeing on Boxing Day.

Indian feast + Viognier

To have a bit of home here, I did make efforts to keep our family traditions going during the holiday season, though that didn’t stop us from trying new things that maybe will become our own, new traditions.

On Christmas Eve, I spent most of my day in the kitchen, preparing various Christmas treats we’ve enjoyed over the years.

Can you believe it!? Chicken sausage in London! And it’s Italian sausage!! An expat Christmas win brought to me by Waitrose!


We attended Christmas Eve mass and after caroling in the Cotswolds and at Royal Albert Hall, we knew all the songs well enough to sing along. Who knew O Little Town of Bethlehem was different across the pond?

Christmas Eve Mass

After mass, we had a nice dinner at home, similar to how we’ve spent the holiday with Andrew’s family.

Christmas Eve Feast

Christmas morning, I made my family’s usual breakfast and, of course, we had on our Christmas pajamas! My parents brought them over to us when they visited in November, so we’d be sure to have them on the day. Kinda fun to know that even spread across the Atlantic, all of my family will be wearing the same pants on Christmas morning, even the boys!

I received a beautiful tea set as my Christmas gift from Andrew’s parents during their visit. We set it out for the first time on Christmas morning to enjoy the Christmas tea Andrew picked up for us. We made hot chocolate and exchanged gifts. It was a really nice morning!

Christmas Breakfast

There is no public transportation running on Christmas Day in London, so we called an Uber to head to our friends’ for Christmas dinner. I think I was expecting London to be empty. It was not. Though there was certainly less traffic than usual, there were many people out and about for walks or at the pub for a holiday meal.

Our impeccable hosts pulled out all the stops for a very special expat Christmas! We each got a special stocking, which was even more special to me since we did not put up stockings this year.

We ate a lot! I recreated my favorite Christmas appetizer that my aunt always makes for me on Christmas Eve. It wasn’t as good as hers usually is, but a step in the right direction!

We were not without English traditions, with our hosts getting each of a Christmas cracker for our plates! I was a little nervous about them, ha, but they are so fun. Our hosts served us a beautiful roast meal, complete with gluten-free Yorkshire puddings for me!! It was so thoughtful of them to accommodate me and it was truly a special meal with friends!

I expected to feel sad on Christmas Day, but I really didn’t. It was nice to see photos from home and speak with our families, but it was also nice to have a relaxing weekend in our home and to spend time with friends. Though we weren’t with either of our families, we did a lot of things with our friends that we would do at home. We shared a lovely meal, we opened gifts, we played games and we laughed a lot. It was really nice.

Many of my Christmas gifts will help me write and edit photos more efficiently, so here’s hoping that the blog will get off to a strong start in 2018. Thank you so much for reading! Wishing you a wonderful new year!


Jenn is an American expat living in London, spending her time freelancing, traveling and writing on this here blog. Thank you for reading. Are you planning a trip here? Tell me your plans in the comments!

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