5 Ways Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory Inspires You to Make Any Place Feel Like Home for the Holidays

This post is brought to you by Disney. All opinions are my own.


Being far from home during the holidays is never easy. As someone who spent two years clear across the world, I know how hard it is to miss out on all your treasured traditions. Today, I’m going to share with you a few things you can do to make any place feel like home for the holidays. First, though, I have some exciting news for all my fellow Dory fans out there! You can get a FREE* Digital Graphic Novel when you buy Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory, now available on Blu-ray™, Digital HD & Disney Movies Anywhere! Get details of the offer here.


When I was growing up, the holidays were a pretty huge deal. The weeks from Thanksgiving to New Years were filled with such incredible joy. My favorite memory is that of watching my grandmother go on a baking spree that lasted weeks and filled the kitchen with the most amazing aromas. She went all out making cookies, pies and my favorite food of all time, her famous dough ball soup. She only made it during the Christmas season because it was so time-consuming (she hand-rolled thousands of tiny dough balls and meatballs!), so if you couldn’t make it, you missed out for that year.

For most of my life, I’ve lived pretty close to my family, so I never had to miss out. Even when I lived a state away, I still made it back. There were two years, though, that I lived clear on the other side of the world, in Japan. Coming home for the holidays just wasn’t an option.

Whether you’re 7,000 miles away on the other side of the world or just a few towns away and stuck in a blizzard, missing out on going home for the holidays can make it hard to embrace the joy of the season. If you’re someone like me who absolutely loves the holidays, though, keeping a positive attitude can go a long way to making any place feel like home for the holidays.

I learned quite a few things during my time in a far off corner of the ocean, just like Dory learns many lessons about “going home” in Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory. I’m sharing them with you today, along with some of my favorite inspiration from the world’s greatest regal blue tang, so you can bring that wonderful feeling of being “home for the holidays” to your season, no matter where you are.

5 Ways to Make Any Place Feel Like Home for the Holidays

Surround yourself with good friends

One of the things I loved about Finding Dory was how the movie really drove home the message of friendship. Dory may not be with her parents, but she’s found a family in Nemo and Marlin. Something that I learned during my time in Japan: friends are family too! My husband and I may have been far away from our relatives, but we were never far from family. Our house was always filled with his co-workers, especially during the holidays.

Keep up with your family’s traditions


I’m pretty sure I drove my husband nuts with the “holiday rules,” as they came to be called (lovingly, I think! I hope!). I have a ton of traditions, like getting a new ornament for my son every year and opening just one present the night before the big day. It’s important to keep as many of those traditions going, even if you’re the only one doing them.

One of my favorite traditions was our Christmas movie. After all the festivities, I would curl up with a new movie that I got in my stocking.  I’ve always been a massive Disney fan, so that usually meant watching whichever film released around the holidays that year. This year, my son and I will be re-watching Finding Dory. We saw it in theaters, but like Finding Nemo, it’s one of those movies that you can watch a million times and always find a new life lesson or something else to laugh about together.

Make a few new traditions too!

Now is the perfect time to start a few new traditions, too! In Finding Dory, Dory’s parents left a trail of seashells so she could find her way home. Oh, the tears when the scene cut away to reveal those shell paths! Best part of the whole movie!

If you’re really missing someone, you could try putting a candle in the windowsill to light their way home (I recommend the ones with the little light bulbs rather than real flames, because I’m neurotic about fire hazards). Or make your own holiday version of the shells with luminary lanterns!


Connect with your family as often as possible

I was in Japan back in 1999-2001. We didn’t have even a fraction of the technology that we have now, so my only way of connecting with my family during the holidays was through the phone. Now, you have tons of options, so use them! I connect with my brother and his family through video chat all the time.

Since my niece was born on Christmas, it’s doubly important that we get to connect with them on that day!  While it’s not the same as being there, it’s as close as you can get.

Embrace the journey and just keep swimming!

This is perhaps my most important piece of advice, not just to help you get through the holidays away from home, but for any time that you’re missing your family. Embrace the journey. There’s a reason why you’re not home right now. For me, I was newly married to my Sailor husband, living in an exotic country. Yes, it was hard at times, but it was also one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

When you’re feeling down, repeat Dory’s favorite mantra: Just keep swimming! Keep a positive attitude; let the good memories take you home in your mind and heart and dive whole-heartedly into the festivities that surround you. You might just find that you already are home for the holidays after all!

How do you make any place feel like home for the holidays? Share in the comments!


38 thoughts on “5 Ways Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory Inspires You to Make Any Place Feel Like Home for the Holidays”

  1. I just moved to dubai and not much close friends, although i have met few nice girls around and they are amazing. probbly will cath up with them a lot this december. and life lesson from dory, I just keep swimming coz life goes on,

  2. A tradition handed down to me that I still follow is the one you have with your son, we buy a new ornament each year, every time we travel especially we buy a new ornament from wherever we happen to visit, it’s our favorite souvenir and adds something extra to an already special tradition.

  3. Nothing feels more like home than family and if they can’t be with you during that time, then at least continuing the traditions you grew up with would help! I think these are awesome ideas! I can’t believe we can finally add Finding Dory to our DVD collection!

  4. Great tips! I just moved across the country, after living in California for 10 years. Everything is different and strange. I think I needed this reminder that anywhere is home. :)

  5. Christina Aliperti

    The holidays are special because we are all together which is rare these days. I love Dory, this is my favorite movie right now.

  6. I’ve been away from home for almost 6 years now and I would be lying if I said it doesn’t bother me around the holidays because it really does. Being around family and old friends around the holidays makes a big difference.

  7. Jeanine @ sixtimemommy.com

    We just saw Finding Dory this past week for the first time and I was so impressed. Such a cute movie. We stole “just keep swimming” from memo and still use it to this day. We love making our own traditions and we continue traditions from when I was a kid too!

  8. Rozilyn Branch Cool

    I absolutely agree about continuing tradition. At Christmas, I still decorate my tree the same exact way as I did growing up, and now my kids do the same. We have a made new friends and with them have come new traditions. Our motto is always fun and see the joy!

  9. I haven’t seen Finding Dory, but after reading this review, I really want to! I LOVE that phrase just keep swimming! I don’t have very many happy memories when I was young about the holidays. But I tried to make sure my family did! Being together is so important for each of us!! We all bring something to the table each holiday and it is all about the kids! Every Thanksgiving, I sing the “turkey” song! There are other things we do for Thanksgiving and Christmas too and I hope the youngsters carry them on also. But the most important thing is for all of us to be together and to remember to thank Our Good Lord for everything!!

  10. These are such great ideas! Not being home for the holidays must be so tough – this is a great post! Thank you for sharing!

  11. I love the Holidays and getting to see my family. I will have to pick up a copy of Finding Dory. It was such a great movie.

  12. The Holidays can be pretty dull without people to celebrate it with. It’s nice that you have family around or friends that would celebrate with you. What’s even better is if you continue or start your own traditions!

  13. These are great rules! I love the holidays and too make a big deal about them. WE have so many traditions! My husband thinks i’m crazy but the kids love it! I love adding new traditions each year as well!!

  14. Aw we love Finding Dory! We’ve lived close to family and far from family and it can get lonely, but I’m thankful for all the technology (skype, facetime, etc.) that allows us to celebrate face-to-face even when we’re far away. :)

  15. Yes to making new traditions that your kids will remember as their special holiday traditions that hopefully they will share with their own kids. We are beyond excited for this DVD- it will be the perfect family film to watch with your loved ones this holiday season!

  16. We just love Finding Dory. It makes us feel like home when we pop some popcorn and cuddle together under the blankets to watch a great movie like Finding Dory.

  17. We always try to stick with traditions too. The one gift opening on Christmas Eve, Mrs. Santa also always delivers fresh baked cookies (while the girls are getting ready for bed), and watching holiday movies the night before. It’s important for us to keep these going with our girls, and I do hope they carry these traditions on with their kids as well.

  18. Catherine Sargent

    These are all great ideas. We are going to be at Disney this Christmas, but I am going to bring our stockings and hang them up in our hotel room.

  19. Thanks for these great ideas! I have had to spend a couple of holidays away from family and it isn’t fun. These tips can really help make it feel like everyone is together.

  20. I have been away from my family for a little over 4 years now, and it’s very hard. Granted I am only about 500 miles away, its still too far lol. One way I make it feel like home is from things my mom has given me, such as ornaments or holiday décor that were hers or my grandmas. And my very favorite is by baking things that they used to, the smell brings all the feels back. My husband and I have made new traditions with our kids, which make everything all the more special, and makes being away from home a little less difficult.

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