Download our guides Your Next Career Accommodation Money and banking Cost of living Visas Employment Health and safety Language Life in Australia Studying Getting around Travel Advertise

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

‘Tis the season to be jolly! Spending the holidays away from home can be tough, especially if you’re used to spending Christmas with family.

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 Queen Victoria Christmas Market is a great option as it is open until 24 December for you to shop all your Christmas pantry and festive essentials. Sydney has The Rocks Christmas Market, a European-style Christmas market running for almost a whole month.

If you’re in Adelaide, don’t miss the iconic Lobethal Lights, a Christmas festival where streets come alive with market and food stalls, all set against a backdrop of dazzling Christmas lights. In Canberra, you can check out the Christmas Village Markets for some unique and locally made goodies. 

There are more than a dozen markets set to take place in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Santa’s Village in Darwin has plenty of activities to get you in the festive spirit.

If you’re in Perth, head to Lakeside Wonderland for your shopping needs. In Hobart, there is the Tassie Makers’ Market in the CBD where you can also shop and support local.

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.

In Adelaide, explore Santa’s Wonderland at the Showgrounds. In Melbourne, lots of pretty lights await you at Federation Square, Town Hall Building, the docklands and across various suburbs. If you are in Sydney, check out St Mary’s Cathedral and the Martin Place Christmas tree. 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 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. Decide on a theme, set up a photo booth with props, create a playlist, and incorporate a game or two. Ask 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 cosy 

If you prefer to unwind and enjoy your own company, deck the halls (of your bedroom) with holiday cheer. Buy a small 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 many 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 take delight in some heart-warming holiday films.

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 involving yourself in 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 and will help them feel closer to you, despite the geographical distance. After all, it’s the little things that count during Christmas.