Doing Christmas your way
22 Nov 2023
Did you know that more than 55% of Australians* identify as non-Christian, and that their Christmas Days may have little or no connection to religion? Instead of celebrating the birth of Christ, millions of Australians focus instead on a Christmas that means connecting with friends and family, having some downtime, freedom from work and having fun.
Yet drill down further again and for more than 2 million Australians (according to research by the Salvos), Christmas trigger feelings of social isolation, loneliness and stress rather than ‘good cheer’.
Simply put, millions of Australians will be experiencing the day in a huge variety of ways and not always through gift-giving, socialising and feasting. That’s our new norm and rather than try to meet expectations of Christmas as ‘advertised’, it can help to remember this, if you simply want to ‘do’ Christmas your way.
So firstly, we highly recommend exercising your right to choose your style of Christmas. Other tips and advice follow in our cookie-tin collection. Pick the ones to your taste!
Look after yourself
- If you’re going to spend Christmas alone – or with a pet – allow plenty of time for the things you enjoy.
- Make a phone call, send a text or Christmas card to someone you haven’t been in contact with for a while
- Avoid financial stress. If you’re not able to spend money comfortably, or don’t want too – don’t. If you want to give a gift without spending money, consider a small bouquet from your garden, regift something in your home, share a memory jar, bake some biscuits or make chutney or jam, gift a (secret) recipe and perhaps the ingredients to make it too, gift a houseplant, gift a coupon for free house-sitting, pet sitting or houseplant watering.
- Avoid uncomfortable or tense catch ups. Catch up with small groups of people at different times if you can and reduce the amount of alcohol involved.
- Plan a treat – a favourite snack or meal, TV show or movie, a good read, visit to the beach or a short walk if you’re able.
- Exercise mind, body and spirit – if you have a smart phone, you can try search for apps like Smiling Mind, which can offer you a tool for finding peace and calm.
Look after yourself and others
- Sometimes small gestures make people feel less lonely and isolated, so try smiling or saying hello to a passer-by.
- Organise an Orphans Christmas for people likely to spend the day on their own (it needn’t cost a lot, just ask people to bring a plate, either their favourite dish or a cultural festive treat).
- Connect with people from home through social media.
- Set up a group video chat – even if you’re just a group of 2, it’s nice to see a face.
- Check in with a neighbour and ask if they’re okay, invite them for a cuppa or leave a little gift and/or card at their door.
- Get involved or attend a festive community event (see our calendar for ideas)
- Volunteer to help at a Christmas party, meal, or event – the best way to find out where volunteers are needed are to search online using keywords [your region], [Christmas], [volunteer]. Remember that for some events you may need to have an OCHRE card.
- Gift unwanted nick knacks, books or clothes to an op shop.
If you need someone to talk to, or to lend you some practical support, there are several organisations within easy reach by phone or to chat too online. They are there to help – you are not wasting their time or being a nuisance.
What informed us:
- Australian Bureau of Statistics Census 2021 data