Making the Most of Christmas When You Can’t go Home

‘Tis the season to be jolly! This year, though, the Christmas season will look very different for anyone who can’t travel home. But fret not, you can still participate in the holiday season and enjoy some Christmas cheer through a wide range of events and fun things to do! 

1. Go shopping at the Christmas markets 

From art, fashion and food, to all the festive knick-knacks, Christmas markets are the best places to go to for shopping local, picking up last-minute gifts, and kickstarting the festive season. 

Check to see if there are any markets going on in your city. If you’re in Melbourne, The District Makers Market – Christmas Edition is a great option. Sydney has The Rocks Christmas Markets, a European-style Christmas market running for almost a whole month. Adelaide is running the Artisans of Adelaide Christmas Market this weekend in Victoria Square (Tarntanyangga) under the giant Christmas tree. There are more than a dozen markets set to take place in Brisbane, and in Western Australia, the Fremantle Arts Centre’s Bazaar is considered the state’s best Christmas market. Canberra’s biggest Christmas market has been cancelled for 2020, but you can check out Dirty Janes Twilight Christmas Shopping for some vintage goodies. In Hobart, there are several festive Block Parties popping up, while you can check what markets are on around the Gold Coast here. Although it’s not a traditional Christmas ‘market’, Casuarina Square in Darwin has a lot of Christmas events happening in the centre. 

2. Find the best Christmas lights where you are

Most cities in Australia host incredible   Christmas light displays, with some even offering performances under the twinkling Christmas trees and laser light displays. 

In Adelaide, the celebrations will be in Victoria Square. In Melbourne, lots of pretty lights await you at Federation Square, Town Hall Building, the State Library, Princes Bridge and the suburb of Montmorency. If you are in Sydney, check out St Mary’s Cathedral or Sydney Road in Hornsby Heights. Christmas Lights in Tasmania has a list of houses that display Christmas lights across the state. If you’re living outside of the major cities, use the Christmas Light Search map to find the most decorated streets near you. 

3. Go carolling as a group 

If you’re into singing Christmas songs, there are lots of opportunities for carolling. Search online for carolling in your city; you’ll find big, city-wide events, to small community groups looking for enthusiastic volunteers. Or, be brave and go carolling in your neighbourhood –there will be so many houses decorated with lights, and the Christmas cheer will be graciously welcomed! 

So, grab your best mates, wear your best (or ugliest) Christmas sweater, and huddle together to let those herald angels sing! 

4. Volunteer locally 

Christmas is the best time to connect with your community and support services through local events. Check with organisations in your area to see what they have planned – from hospitals, nursing homes and homeless shelters, to animal shelters, you will certainly find something meaningful to do this Christmas season. Plus, it’s a great way to boost your resume at the same time. 

5. Host a party for fellow international students 

Take the initiative to host a party at your place and invite your friends. Firstly, make sure you’re adhering to the rules on gathering in your state – there may be limits in place on how many people you can have over. Then, decide on a theme, set up a photo booth with props, create a playlist, and incorporate a game or two. Delegate some of your friends to bring a dish for a potluck, or cook a traditional Christmas meal together. In Australia, a barbeque is always a hit as Christmas is a summer festivity here.

6. Decorate your bedroom and get cozy 

If you prefer to unwind and enjoy your own company, deck the halls (of your bedroom) with holiday cheer. Buy a mini Christmas tree and decorate it, hang fairy lights, light a sweet-scented candle, and create your own Christmas wonderland that fills you with joy. 

You will find heaps of festive movies to watch on various streaming services, so grab some delicious food and a drink, settle into the softest blanket you can find, and enjoy a relaxing night off.

7. Organise a virtual celebration with family and friends back home 

There is no doubt that you will be missing your family and friends who are located in another part of the world. Combat this by setting up a group video call and make yourself a part of what they are doing or vice versa. Add an activity, like a quiz or a Christmas sing-along, and enjoy the love and company – virtually!  

8. Listen to Christmas music and write postcards 

Surround yourself with Christmas music and write Christmas messages on postcards for the special people in your life! The thoughtful gesture will be a pleasant surprise, despite them being thousands of miles away. After all, it’s the little things that count during Christmas. 

This year, I am spending Christmas with a South Australian family in Mount Gambier. There will be a whole lot of food and gifts under the Christmas tree for exchange, and while we are there, it will be nice to explore some of the local sights and attractions and see another part of South Australia that I have never been to! I have read that the Blue Lake and Umpherston Sinkhole are stunning sights to see down there, and since it’s summer, a visit to a beach or two for a swim is definitely on the cards. I hope you all find something exciting to do this Christmas and have the merriest time!