Although the UAE is generally a Muslim country, western Christmas practices are still carried out here in December, especially in areas wherein there’s a large population of expats.

In Dubai, particularly, you will see an abundance of Christmas-themed decor, particularly in popular business establishments such as the malls and restaurants. Therefore, it is not surprising to witness Christmas celebrations in Dubai throughout the final month of the year.

If you are a part of an expat community and you wish to hold a celebration of the season similar to what you grew up with this is easy enough to pull off – even in a country wherein Christmas is not a part of the local customs and traditions. To help you put together such an event, here are six fun ideas to work with.

1. Get a Santa Claus.

There are events planning companies that have mascots and party performers that can play Santa Claus. A Christmas celebration is not complete without this world-famous personality.

Santa Claus can come and hand out gifts or perform like those popular mall Santa Clauses who take the time to listen to the requests of young children. Whichever of the two tasks you want Santa to perform for the party, there’s no doubt that everybody (particularly the kids) will appreciate his presence and the holiday cheer he can bring.

2. Hire catering services.

Get the pros to prepare a traditional Christmas spread for the party. Turkey, pies, hot cocoa with peppermint candy canes, fettuccine, roast goose, gingerbread houses, and others will trigger nostalgia among your fellow expats. Even those from countries that do not serve these for the holidays know that such fare is the epitome of a Christmas meal and will surely go wow at the sight of it.

And, if the food tastes as good as it looks, certainly everybody will feel quite joyful. So, hire a party catering service.

3. Bring in some carolers.

While it may already be nice to have Frank Sinatra singing “Let It Snow” in the background, everybody will feel the holiday spirit more if popular Christmas tunes are sung by some carolers.

If you know a few good singers who can sing “Jingle Bells” rather decently and will not mind dressing up in ugly winter sweaters for an acoustic performance, get them on the program. Or look at hiring professional singers.

4. Set up a playground.

It is not a party unless there are games. Come up with a bunch of Christmas-themed games such as Charades, the Saran Wrap Ball Game, Minute to Win It Gingerbread Game, and others.

It is also a good idea to rent inflatables that you can deck out. If there are young kids that cannot take part in the games yet, the bouncy play equipment will keep them busy and happy. And later on, the older ones can have their turn too – and yes, while wearing a Santa hat.

Do not forget the prizes. No matter how dinky they are, they are enough to fan the flame of competitiveness and make the games super fun.

5. Create a Christmas “glam” corner and a photo booth.

Buy red, green, white, gold, and silver ribbons for the hair, nail studs and stickers, face paint, and Christmas-themed accessories from hobby stores so anybody who comes to the party and wants to deck out can do so.

Also, rent a photo booth service because if the party is “jingle bell rockin’,” guests will want a souvenir to remember the fun of the day.

6. Consider renting a snow machine.

When you have a budget that will allow you to get a tad “extra,” do not think twice about renting a snow machine and make your celebration a “White Christmas.” Everybody will get a huge kick out of it. There will be squeals of joy in the air as snowflakes (albeit fake) land on noses and eyelashes.

Turning on the snow machine is the perfect way to culminate the event. Your guests will certainly leave happy.

The holidays can make expats feel a bit homesick but if you can recreate the festivities that you used to enjoy back home, the holiday blues may cease to be a problem.

In 2008, Managing Director and Founder of The Big Moo Events Lorate Hamzeh left a successful career in Human Resources to venture into the niche market of children’s entertainment. By introducing the UAE to Singing Telegrams, Lorate attracted the attention of the children’s entertainment market with a collection of fun mascots. Within a year, Lorate added children’s entertainers and bouncers to the company’s ever-growing list of services, and the rest was history.