Christmas traditions from around the world

Hi everyone!

It’s only a few hours until Christmas now, and I thought I would do something extra fun for my last festive blog post of the year. Most of you guys who read my blog posts are from completely different parts of the world! On the same day, I’ll have readers from: England, UAE, Vietnam, Singapore, Greece, Germany, the U.S., France, The Netherlands, and Canada (to mention a few!). And I love this! I wanted to appreciate this global community in the festive season… So I’ve gathered festive traditions from bloggers all across the world and asked them all to write a paragraph sharing a special Christmas tradition that they each have. I hope you enjoy reading about what people all across the world do to celebrate this season. They may seem like small things, but these little traditions are what makes the holidays so special for everyone. Feel free to comment one of your holiday traditions in the comment section at the end of this post!

New Jersey, USA

Natalie Park – Capturing Life on Camera Blog

“Every year, my family and I play “Dirty Santa” where everyone brings a gift that is around $25. Everyone gets a number and goes around and chooses a gift in the order of their numbers. The fun in the game is that you can steal presents so the later numbers have the best shot. Every year my Grandma brings the worst gifts. At this point, I own a crystal vase, some vitamins, and too many regifted candles. It has become a running joke in my family that my grandma is the worst gift giver!”

Kent, England

Jasmine – Just Jasmineella Blog

“Hi I’m Jasmine and I’m from England, Kent. One tradition that my family and I have is having new Christmas pjs on Christmas Eve. I still get really excited about this! Every year my mum wraps up a fresh, new, festive pair of matching pyjamas for me and my sister to slip into right after a lovely hot bath. She has done this ever since we were tiny, when we were babies it was little Christmas sleep-suits! She always picks a beautiful set that starts the excitement and build up for the next day. They tend to be a traditional button up style with a Christmassy print of some kind. I love doing this because it’s so lovely when me and my sister are opening our presents in matching pyjamas in front of the Christmas tree. We usually have a photograph of us both in front of the fireplace on Christmas Eve leaving a snack ready for Father Christmas and a carrot for the reindeer. These are special Christmas memories that I will always treasure and wish to carry on with my own children when I’m older.”

Florida, USA

Liddy Dow – @itsliddystyle

“First off, I want thank Little Miss Expat for having me on her blog. She is such an inspiration and has an amazing story that I connected to from the beginning. She has achieved so much this year and it’s a privilege of mine to called her a friend on Instagram!  My name is Liddy and I run the Instagram Fashion account, @itsliddystyle. Little Miss Expat asked me what my Christmas tradition is and I would love to share it with you all. Before I moved to where I live now, every Christmas Eve we would go over to my families house and have a huge party. My favorite part about that upcoming day was picking out my fancy dress to wear that night. I looked forward to it ever year. It was an exciting night that was filled with laughter and love. Continuing with another tradition I have, is every Christmas or so my family rents a beach house and we stay for about a week. It’s always so nice to see all of my cousins and family together at once. My favorite memory was a couple of years ago when we decided to dig a HUGE hole in the sand. It look us all day and in the end it could fit all 6 of us cousins in it. (We even made sand stairs and a bench inside). It was such a fun experience to work with my cousins and I will never forget it.  But those are my Christmas traditions I have. Thank you again, LME for letting me share my experiences with you on your blog. I hope everyone has a great week and have a happy holiday and Merry Christmas!”

Cairns, Australia

Elina Passant – Just So Elina Blog

“My favourite Christmas tradition would have to be our little Christmas Day vlogs we make every year. My mum started filming Christmas morning when I was 2 on her old camcorder, you know the ones that record onto tapes instead of sd cards. As I got older I started adding onto her little videos, so once she filmed us opening presents I would film who we were spending Christmas with, our animals and whatever Christmassy activity we were doing that morning like making a gingerbread house. We continue to make the vlogs to this day and I love it because I get to look back on past years and my favourite Christmas memories. It’s also what started my love for filming videos, so it’s really been a win win tradition.”

Erfurt, Germany

Sixtina Alwardt – Six Miles Away Blog

“ADVENTSKALENDER

One typical German tradition is the Adventskalender. It basically serves as a countdown until Christmas. Starting from the 1st of December until 24th, you can open one “door” per day. Each of these doors is filled with chocolates (usually).

However, over the years these calendars changed in shape, size and filling. Lots of companies sell these calendars with their products. This can be herbs, toys, cosmetics and so on. You can even buy couple calendars nowadays. Super cool idea.

DIY Adventskalenders also become more and more popular. This basically means someone in your family is making and filling it for you. This way they are more personalised.

Adventskalenders really don’t have an age. Young and older people enjoy them equally every year.”

Buckinghamshire, England

Lexie – What Lexie Loves Blog

“For the last couple of years, my family has welcomed a new tradition… our Christmas Morning Muffins. Every Christmas Eve my mum makes up a batch of these orange and cranberry muffins, and in the morning we bake them and have the fresh and warm. The cinnamon-ny, fruity taste is delicious and just reminds me of Christmas. It’s a small, simple tradition but it really does make my Christmas morning… we love huddling around the breakfast table eating them!

Rohini Kudva – RoRo K Designs Blog

“My family loves watching movies and every year we always take one day before Christmas to have a long marathon. The marathon usually includes Elf, The Holiday, All of the Holiday episodes from Friends, a Charlie Brown Christmas, and many more. I’m the only one that enjoys Hallmark Movies, so we only watch a couple. My aunt makes really yummy gingerbread cookies and ginger tea, which we eat while we watch the movies. It’s something I always look forward to every year.”

Dubai, UAE

ME!

I’ve grown up spending Christmas in different places around the world, but one of the traditions that is pretty steady in my family is our Christmas walks. In my family after we eat Christmas lunch, we all go for a walk (to work off all the food we ate!) and to enjoy the winter nature of England before we go back to Dubai. Only after the walk are we allowed to open our presents!

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Thank you to all the bloggers around the world who collaborated with me on this post!

I hope you enjoyed reading about these Christmas traditions from around the world! Comment down below a Christmas tradition you have and where you’re from! Merry Christmas everyone!

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The photography tip that will ‘Christmasify’ any photo!

As we get closer to Christmas, each day is becoming more and more festive. I’ve grown up spending most of my Christmases in London, and for anyone who has visited London during December you will know that the festive atmosphere is contagious. The glowing Christmas lights on every street have this effect which makes everything warm and bright, and I love to capture this in photos. In this post I’m going to share my top tip for ‘Christmasifying’ any photo you take during this season, and using the lights to your advantage.

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You’ve probably seen loads of photos like this on your Instagram feed or all over the internet this time of year, but for me, it took me a while to actually perfect this style of photo. There’s something about using this style which always reminds me of a festive time of year. The whole gist of the ‘Christmasified’ photo is focusing on a subject in the foreground which has a background of lights behind it, but by blurring the background and only focusing on the foreground, the background turns into balls of glowing light which radiate festivity.

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Here’s an example of what the blurred light effect looks like

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And here’s an example of focusing on the foreground and blurring out the background

Once you know what you’re doing, it’s pretty simple to achieve this style. However, it’s hard to only focus on one point using your phone camera, so I would suggest using an actual camera where you can adjust your settings to achieve this effect. I usually shoot manual on my camera, but if this is something you’re not used to, then feel free to just adjust some of the settings I mention in this post. If you’re shooting on manual like me, be sure to shift your focus to one singular point, or when you push down the button to take the photo, make sure in your viewfinder you see that you’re focusing on one singular point in the foreground (otherwise, you will be taking in the whole landscape and not focusing on anything specific).

Step one for achieving this effect is NOT using flash. Personally, I don’t think using flash with these kinds of photos is a good idea, as the light from a cameras flash is too harsh and I hardly ever use it when taking photos. Instead, opt for a more natural light source, while it’s winter and there are lots of festive lights, it’s probably still going to be a little dark around you. But as long as you have enough light to be able to see what you’re doing, your camera should be able to pick up on your subject.

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The most important part of achieving this effect is adjusting your aperture. Your camera’s aperture is basically, how much light is let into your camera when you take a photo. By adjusting your camera to a higher ‘F’ number you’re letting in less light. So not only is your photo darker but also your photo now has a depth of field, because your camera only has enough light to focus on a subject in the foreground.

If you’re adjusting your aperture to let in less light, in order to achieve that depth of field effect which blurs out the lights in the background, you have to make up for this somewhere else in your settings, so that your camera still has enough light to actually take a photo. You can do this by adjusting your shutter speed. Your shutter speed is how long your camera shutter is open for when you take a photo. So by having a lower shutter speed, your photos will be brighter as more light is let in. So to achieve this effect you would need to choose a high aperture number, and a low shutter speed number.

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You may also want to change your cameras ISO, which is how sensitive your camera is to light. So if your camera is really insensitive to light, you probably won’t be able to pick up on all of the subject. By changing your cameras ISO number, to something higher your camera will be more sensitive to light. My last tip for capturing your subject in the best way is to ‘meter’ off your subject. So when you press down on your camera button to take the photo be sure that you’re focusing on a specific point on your subject, so that your camera picks up on it.

Remember:

Aperture – High ‘F’ number (your aperture is always 1/the ‘F’ number, so a higher number means a smaller fraction)

Shutterspeed – Low number

ISO – High number

I hope that you enjoyed this post! I usually don’t write posts this in-depth about one specific type of photo, but I thought that it might be useful to explain how to take this specific type of photo as it’s so festive. Let me know what you thought of this post by liking it or commenting, and if you try using these tips let me know, I would love to see what you come up with!

See you next week,

Little Miss Expat

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24 hours in Paris with a local – Winter Edition

Heya Guys!

I visited Paris a couple of days ago and it was AMAZING. I’ve been to Paris a few times before, but this time I think I can safely say I’ve fallen in love with the city!! From the sugar coma, I was in because of all the macarons, cakes, hot chocolates and pastries I ate,  to walking down small cobbled streets in St Germain, I loved every moment of it. One of the reasons the trip was so fun was because I got to spend time with a friend of mine that recently moved to Paris. (hence the ‘local’ part of this post) She showed me some of her favorite places to visit in Paris, and we got to chat and catch up over cups of hot chocolate and huge salads.

I wanted to share what I did and where I went with you guys in this post, but bear in mind that we didn’t visit many tourist spots, so if you’re going to Paris for the first time it might be wise to save another day to visit spots like the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, and then you can try this ‘off the beaten track’ guide and visit the places I went to.

  1. Explore Paris on foot first – One of the first things I like to do when I visit a city is to take a walk and get a ‘feel’ for the place. You get to scout out some places you might want to visit later, and might come across some very cool sights. We walked down the Champs-Élysées and got to see a beautiful view of the Arc de Triomphe.DSC_0878
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    Isn’t this view of the Arc de Triomphe amazing?

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    We stumbled across this view of the Eiffel Tower covered in the morning mist.

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  2. Lunch at La Carette – I wanted to let my friend decide most of where we went because after all, she is the ‘local’ and she certainly picked out the perfect places. Out of all the times, I’ve visited Paris, I can’t believe I’d never eaten at Parisian Cafe until we went to La Carette. La Carette is exactly what a Parisian Cafe should be like, bursting with people and filled with pastries and macarons. It also has a magnificent view of the Eiffel Tower as soon as you step outside! I had a salmon salad (my attempt to be healthy) and we had a mille-feuille and a traditional French Christmas cake called Buche de Noel after, which were AMAZING (I’m drooling right now, just thinking about those desserts)
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    The salmon salad I ate

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    A box of macarons I brought back to London with me.

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    By far the best macarons I’ve ever eaten…

  3. Take touristy pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower – I mean… of course, you have to do this. My friend and I enjoyed a good few minutes trying to perfect the picture where it looks like you’re holding the Eiffel Tower (cringe, I know) But how can you go to Paris and not take embarrassing photos?img_5198.jpg
  4. Visit the St. Germain area – One of the things I really wanted to do on this trip, was to visit some smaller ’boutique style’ French shops because I think you can find nicer items in little local stores. I also had to buy a few Christmas gifts, so I wanted to see if there were more unique gifts I could buy in the boutiques. And, I was not disappointed! We visited the St. Germain area which was full of little-cobbled streets with small boutiques and shops. We saw some of the cutest shops in this area, as well as most of the big branded stores. For anyone who wants to do a bit of shopping in Paris, I would recommend St. Germain.IMG_5246IMG_5242 2IMG_5251IMG_5254
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    I absolutely loved this boutique, you can take a look at it here.

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    We came across this cute little florist

  5. Hot Chocolate at Cafe de Flore – You can’t come back from Paris without having a hot chocolate! There’s something about the French hot chocolate that’s so special, it’s super creamy and chocolatey and the atmosphere of a Parisian cafe adds to the whole effect. My friend said that Cafe de Flore was her favourite hot chocolate in Paris, so of course she took me to try it! It was soooo good. Wow. Parisian cafes are so simple in their layout and decorations, but it’s the food and people that make them so special. I think laughing and sharing stories over cups of hot chocolate had to be one of the best parts of the trip.IMG_5262IMG_5273 (1)IMG_5267

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    It tasted sooooooo good

Those are the highlights of my trip, and things that I that think you need to try if you’re visiting Paris soon. Honestly, I had such a great time in Paris and I got to experience the more unique side of the city which I loved! What’s your favourite city?

Little Miss Expat

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Decorating My Christmas Tree

Heya Guys!

Every year my family and I enjoy spending a festive day decorating our Christmas tree, and we take decorating pretty seriously. That being said this a really fun time for us, we wear Santa hats, put on our Christmas playlist and work on creating the most bedazzled tree you can find.

We usually get in a real tree and this year ours was 13 feet tall, which means a LOT of decorating to do. In our family, I’m in charge of ordering and choosing ornaments so when we open the box full of decorations I’m in my total design, creative mode. We’ve gathered lot’s of ornaments over the years, but last year when I started coming up with our ‘copper and blush’ theme we ordered a lot of them from Cox & Cox.  I think they have some really great ornaments, but if you’re looking for a place to buy tree decorations I’ve written about a few of my favourite places in my latest Christmas Preparation post, definitely have a look at them.

But enough about that here’s how our tree turned out this year!!!

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There’s something special about having a real Christmas tree

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The 13 ft tall wonder of a tree

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First comes the lights…

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I prefer to use warm coloured lights because I think it adds a more cozy vibe to our tree.

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A copper coloured ornament from Cox & Cox

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This ornament is made from folded paper, how cool is that?

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These are some of my favourite ones, they’re a sort of textured grey colour with bits of copper peeking through.

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These mirrored diamond ones create a nice effect as they reflect everything around them.

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This ornament has such a natural look, which makes it blend in so well with the tree.

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We collected this one from the Coca-Cola store in Orlando, isn’t the bear cute?

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You can kind of see how the theme goes together in this photo…

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Creds to my sister for posing for this photo 🙂

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The finished look!

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Little Miss Expat

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Christmas Preparation Guide – everything you could possibly need to do and how to do it

Heya guys!

Winter break has finally started for me, which means no more stressing about school (for a few days at least) and I can finally start my Christmas preparations! In my family even though we don’t celebrate Christmas religiously, we still go full out with the decorations, music, gifts, and food. I think it’s something about growing up in London, I don’t think you can live here and not be drawn into the Christmas Bonanza that’s London during the holiday season. There’s lights everywhere, a chilly breeze, Christmas music playing in every store, and everyone is bursting with happiness. It’s truly amazing.

Because I’m an organizational freak, and because there’s a lot to prepare for Christmas I decided to write a small guide on how I get all my Christmas bits and bobs sorted, and where I like to buy my gifts and decor etc…

What Music To Play:

Would it really be Christmas without the sound of sleigh bells and cheesy Christmas songs? I don’t think so. I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m guilty of listening to my Christmas playlist all year round. I know, I have no self-control when it comes to Christmas songs, but they always put me in a good mood and make me want to dance along to them. Am I the only one? Here are some of my favourite songs that I think you HAVE to have on your Christmas playlist:

  1. All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
  2. Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid
  3. Mistletoe – Justin Bieber
  4. Santa’s Coming For Us – Sia
  5. Last Christmas – Wham
  6. Mary’s Boy Child / Oh My Lord – Boney M.
  7. Baby It’s Cold Outside – Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé
  8. This Christmas – Chris Brown
  9. Step Into Christmas – Elton John
  10. It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – Andy Williams
  11. I’ll Be Home – Meghan Trainor
  12. Sleigh Ride – Carpenters
  13. It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas – Michael Bublé
  14. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Michael Bublé
  15. Holly Jolly Christmas – Michael Bublé
  16. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Frank Sinatra
  17. Santa Tell Me – Ariana Grande
  18. Driving Home For Christmas – Gavin James
  19. Christmas Lights – Coldplay
  20. Merry Christmas Everyone – Shakin’ Stevens

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What Decorations To Use

Decorations have to be one of the most important aspects of Christmas for me. I love designing and putting together cute displays, so I am totally in my element with Christmas Decor. Excluding the Christmas Tree (which I’ll write about separately) I think that decorating your Christmas dining table is very important. After all, this is where you spend a lot of Christmas Day and you want it to look nice. I like to get small items to put on the table, as well as to put out if we’re having people around for snacks. I’ve been collecting little bits and bobs for the table for a while now and here’s what I’ve got:

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Also, you can’t go wrong with lights, the more the merrier! We put them up everywhere and I think it adds to the whole festive atmosphere. Here are some pictures of how I decorated our Christmas Table last year:

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Finding Some Christmas Inspiration

I love to spend my time browsing Pinterest and looking at Christmas tree inspiration and ways that people have decorated their houses for Christmas. I also look at some of my favourite blogs and see what they’re doing for Christmas. I love a cozy evening spent with a mug of hot chocolate and a fuzzy blanket spent ‘researching’ ideas for Christmas. Am I the only one that loves looking for new ideas and could spend ages browsing on their laptop?

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Gift Ideas

I looove buying gifts for other people, as well as creating my own wish list. I’m a big believer in giving thoughtful gifts to others. While receiving a box of chocolates or a bar of soap is nice, I think that Christmas gifs should be a little more exciting and personal. If I’m not really sure what I want I want to get someone for Christmas I like to browse some of my favourite shops for gifts. A few good places to look for presents are:

  1. Anthropologie
  2. Oliver Bonas
  3. Notonthehighstreet
  4. Urban Outfitters (gift section)
  5. ASOS (gift section)

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Making The Perfect Tree

Of course, your Christmas tree is one of the most important parts of the holiday! When we’re in Dubai we have a fake tree with decorations that we use every year because we never spend actual Christmas Day there. When we come to London our Christmas tree is a much more fancy event. We usually get a real tree, and it’s HUGE. When I say huge I really mean it, we keep it in our library which is two floors high, and our Christmas tree reaches the ceiling, so you can tell it’s big. I’m all for having a festive and ‘family’ tree but I don’t really like tacky decorations so my family usually lets me decide the theme of the tree and look for decorations. As I said, I look on Pinterest for my inspiration and themes. Once I come up with a theme, I usually take a look at a few websites and what they have for their Christmas decorations. A few of my favourite places to look at decorations are:

  1. John Lewis
  2. M&S
  3. Next
  4. Fortnum and Masons
  5. Crate & Barrel
  6. Cox & Cox (I got almost all my tree decorations from here)
  7. The White Company

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I hope this Christmas guide is helpful for you guys and your Christmas prep! Please let me know if you like any of my tips and tell me what you do to prepare for Christmas, and where you buy your gifts and decorations from!

Little Miss Expat

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