You likely don’t need any reminding (after all, your city is probably packed with Christmas lights, trees and music!), but Christmas is just around the corner. If you’re spending Christmas with housemates or new friends in Australia, there are plenty of ways to get into the festive spirit.

Christmas Day

While it’s common to celebrate Christmas Eve in Europe, in Australia it’s more accepted to gather on Christmas Day (25 December). Some members of the community might attend church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day – if you’d like to do this, there’s bound to be a church near you that you can visit.

Food

Australians often celebrate Christmas Day by enjoying a Christmas lunch or dinner with their closest family and friends. The meal usually consists of a selection of hot and cold dishes, including fresh seafood. And even though Christmas falls during summer, many families will enjoy roast turkey, hot sides, and rich Christmas pudding on the day.

If you’re celebrating with a group of friends on Christmas Day, you could consider doing a ‘pot luck’. This means everyone can bring a dish to share, and the responsibility of hosting doesn’t have to fall on one person’s shoulders. Why not ask guests to bring a traditional Christmas dish from their home country?

Gifts

It’s common practice to give and receive presents in Australia. This is generally kept between family and friends, although you could consider giving a small gift or card to an employer, manager, or anyone else you’d like to show your appreciation to.

If you’re keen to take part in Christmas gift-giving but want to save some cash, consider hosting a Secret Santa. This involves gathering a group of three or more, placing everyone’s name in a hat, and getting each person to pick out a name. You then set a budget (say, $20 per gift), and everyone has to buy a gift for their designated recipient. You then swap gifts on Christmas Day, either anonymously or with a personalised card attached. It’s a simple and fun way to make sure everyone gets a gift, without the huge financial burden of Christmas shopping. For some fun present ideas, check out our Aussie gift guide.

Christmas events

Brisbane

Brisbane’s King George Square is home to a massive Christmas tree that you can check out in the lead-up to Christmas. City Hall is lit up with animated projections telling fun Australian Christmas tales.

Melbourne

In Melbourne, you can stop by the Carols by Candlelight on Christmas Eve (24 December), a charity music event that is televised across the country. Carols by Candlelight takes place at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl and all proceeds go towards Vision Australia’s charity work.

Also in Melbourne, Newcomers Network will hold its 13th annual BYO Picnic Lunch on Christmas Day. Whether you’re new to Australia or looking to make new connections, Newcomers Network invites anyone and everyone to a big, friendly group picnic – you just need to register.

Sydney

Christmas Wonderland at Sydney Showgrounds runs until Christmas Eve. Here, you can celebrate Christmas cheer with unlimited ice skating, rides and ‘snow’ play.

On Boxing Day (26 December), Huskisson Carnival (located on the NSW south coast) brings more festival fun, with thrill rides, bungee trampolines, rock climbing, and more.

The Christmas Lights Spectacular at Hunter Valley Gardens (just north of Sydney) features the Southern Hemisphere’s largest light display, as well as fair rides including a Ferris wheel and swing chair. The event runs until 26 January, so there’s plenty of time to check it out.

Adelaide

In Adelaide, Christmas Lights, Festive Nights delivers the best of Christmas, with festive foods, light displays, movie screenings, and even Christmas DJs.

Before Christmas, you can also stock up on all your holiday needs, watch cooking demonstrations and spot Australia’s tallest Father Christmas statue at Adelaide Central Market – Christmas Edition.

Canberra

There’s still a few days left to check out Christmas in Canberra, a fun and festive event featuring light displays, miniature train rides, live entertainment and much more.

Hobart

On 22 December, the Tasmanian capital hosts Hobart Community Christmas Carols – a free event where you can listen to traditional Christmas songs and donate gifts and non-perishable food items to those in need.