HOLIDAY: Celebrating Christmas in Izmir

huge tree in one of the Istanbul malls

This wasn’t my first Christmas overseas, but it was OUR first Christmas overseas. Within 4 months, we moved to Turkey, rented an apartment, and furnished it(mostly). So this year, our Christmas decor was a little meek. Ikea pretty much has everything you could ever need, including some Christmas decor. SO, while I would have loved to keep with holiday tradition of buying a real tree, we settled for a cute little fake one!


In anticipation of our 2016 move, Christmas 2015 ended with one big packed Christmas box for storage and one small box labeled ‘Christmas stuff 4 Turkey move.’ Thankfully, we didn’t have to open it again until we had our Christmas in Turkey!  Below is one of my old turkish ornament I bought from my old single days in Turkey. It has made it many places with me!

And this is our new turkish ornament we bought during our sailing trip along the Aegean coastline.

Some traditions aren’t hard to keep, here is our annual Christmas tree decorating time lapse!


Right before we left town, we did see ‘New Year’ trees – REAL ones – at a local grocery store! Next year we may have a real tree!


We may not of had a real tree, but we did do our 2nd annual advent calendar! 2015 was long year for my job, and Jason was a champ through all of it. By December, I was finally was coming out of the work fog, and I wanted to do something special for him to look forward to Christmas. Jason loved it. Every morning he woke up, check the back of the card and had something to look forward to for the day. This year was no different. And – since we had planned our #funkchristmas2016 tour, it made some of our advent activities really interesting!

Our advent calendar is nothing fancy, I printed a card template and wrote the dates on the front with activities on the back. Ikea once again came to the rescue with Christmas theme washi tape!



Along with our advent calendar, we had a few other decorations around our living/dining area. Ikea also had some fake garlands, and I grabbed one knowing it would look fabulous over our fireplace. Every year, I usually find a few free Christmas prints online. A couple I put in frames, others I just taped up with washi tape. Those few new items, plus our small box of treasures we brought from the states, made up our decor this year. And you know what? It was perfect! Simple and perfect.


One of our advent calendar events was baking Christmas cookies. This was three-fold.

1. Decorating (my favorite)

2. Eating of course (Jason’s favorite)

3. Gifts for our neighbor goodie bag!


By December, we had met most of our apartment building neighbors. Since Turkey is a majority muslim country, Christmas is not a celebrated holiday, but it is somewhat present. You can see Christmas trees, decor, lights and sometimes snowmen. ‘Christmas’ is more of a new year celebration and sometimes Santa even makes it by. 😉

For us, Christmas is our whole reason for life, and we are so happy to celebrate it. Part of our Christmas traditions is giving gifts to one another – family and friends alike. As a little gift for our Christmas celebrations, we shared little goodie bags with them! Along with the homemade Christmas cookies, we filled the bag with all the Christmasy foods – gingerbread cookies, chocolates, and a homemade hot chocolate mixture with a bag of marshmallows.


The goodie bags were a huge hit! (Plus, they were super fun to make.) Christmas touring in Europe was a blast. And I spent most of our December, and January mornings enjoying this view….


  1. Melinda Sanchez

    Love it! Seemed like a happy and fulfilling Christmas season 🙂 I am totally doing the advent thing next year!

    1. Catie

      Thanks Melinda! Glad you liked it! It is so fun to do. I think next year I will post what activities I write!

  2. Ashley Rowell

    LOVE YOUR FIREPLACE!!! It would be a waste of space here, but it looks so homey!!!

    1. Catie

      It IS so homey! We didn’t have one in Iowa where we actually needed one! It’s questionable as to if we actually need one here… So it’s a huge plus!

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