Planning activities at your new base can come with a mixed bag of feelings. While it’s difficult to be far away from home and family members, it’s also a chance to introduce new traditions and to have fun with good friends. (Perhaps to even make some new friends.)
Whenever possible, focus on these fun and exciting aspects of the holidays, and look to make traditions of your own. This is a great way to enjoy some of the favorite times of the year in a whole new light. Besides, you might even create some new traditions as you go!
As we near toward the end of the year, consider how you might want to celebrate, even when far away from families and hometowns.
See Who’s in Town
First things first, you’ll need to know who’s staying and who’s going. Determine who made it through PCS season without heading out, and who’s taking leave vs. who’s on duty and in town. This will help you plan with those who will actually be around for the holidays. And whether you prefer to be the host or help someone else do the planning, one of your most important places to start will be the guest list.
Now it’s time to branch out with the ideas you’ve always wanted to try. Get on Pinterest, look up alternate family traditions, and see who does what for the holidays. You can go all out trying wild games or food dishes, or you can reel it in and keep things somewhat “normal.” The point is, there are no rules! No great aunts reminding you that the family does it this way or that way. No cooking certain dishes just to please a few folks. The event is yours, don’t be afraid to have fun with it.
Ask Everyone to Contribute
Another way to bring a touch of home to the holidays is to ask everyone to bring something from their past. Whether that be a dish or fun tradition of some kind, this can allow everyone to choose their favorite holiday event from “back home.” You can also take some time to discuss whatever’s at play and learn a little more about your fellow military families. You might even stumble upon a new tradition that you grow to love and accept into your own family.
You don’t need to buy gifts for the neighborhood, but there’s something fun and pleasant about remaining festive, even when stationed far away. Find some of your favorite traditions and have fun with them, whether that be decorative lights, spiced cider that scents the entire house (yum!), music, and more.
Take in the Local Scene
Finally, you can make the best use out of your holiday season by seeing what your area has planned. Seasonal holidays, sales, or markets will be a fun way to spend the day, all while learning about local folklore. Consider stocking up on knickknacks as souvenirs for you or loved ones while you’re at it. This way you can collect a memento from your time away.
Whatever it is that you do to make holidays special, that doesn’t have to end when stationed far away from “home.” Invite others to get in on the fun with you. Meet the neighbors, show them the traditions you love, and enjoy making new memories with other military families. This is a great way to take in a new duty station, without feeling like you’re missing out on anything associated with the holidays.