When you can’t be home for the holidays to celebrate with your own family, the next best thing is to be adopted by someone else’s – thanks to our friend Hannah’s mom and dad for hosting us (and three other strangers to them) for an entire week.

By staying with these lovely Kiwis, we got to know a whole lot more about New Zealand culture, hospitality, and even started to better understand their language 😉.

Spending the holidays here we even picked up a few new traditions.

Christmas breakfast with champagne (we had no trouble embracing this one) and then continuing to eat and drink our way into a Christmas lunch with all the trimmings was simply fantastic.

And, we were in for a feast beyond your wildest imagination – just look at the menu!

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There was also a White Elephant gift exchange in which I acquired a regulation sized American football and Shaun got a handy sleeve for keeping a bottle of wine cool. Not to mention we were all gifted with chocolate-coated pineapple gummy candies, which are apparently a New Zealand specialty.

But of course, the best thing about the holidays isn’t about the things you acquire. It’s about the special moments with people. Moments like being gifted a kiwi bird Christmas ornament from one of Hannah’s aunts, hearing her uncle’s old stories about his days as a high school sprinter and talking cattle shows with her grandpa, all make you realize just how universal family is.

Then, when you return home from vacation to discover your mailbox full of Christmas letters and cards, respond to Happy Holiday texts and throw in a couple special Skype calls, you know you’re never very far from your own family.


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Here we are pictured with our host parents in front of the Christmas tree. Shaun is wearing the shirt gained from a trade negotiation with John one night over whiskeys and reciting lines from “Dances with Wolves”.
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More of the happy crew sporting their Christmas cracker crowns.