10 alternative things to do on Christmas day

Lorna Cowan / 08 December 2016

Want to swap a traditional Christmas for something a little more unusual this year? Here are 10 alternative ways to spend Christmas day.



Take a dip in the sea

On Christmas Day, up and down the country, people in seaside towns and villages don Santa hats, fancy dress costumes and, more sensibly, wetsuits, and race into the sea (or the Serpentine Lake in London) – all to raise money for charity. Last year in Bournemouth, around 700 participants went for a Christmas Day dip. Are you brave enough to get wet this year?

Lend a helping hand

Charities need volunteers all year round, but especially so at Christmas, so why not offer to lend a hand, perhaps helping Crisis at Christmas serve lunch on the 25th to homeless people in Birmingham, Edinburgh, London, Newcastle and Oxford. Or spend a few hours with an elderly person who otherwise would be alone on Christmas Day. Find out more at Community Christmas.

Find a four-legged friend

If on Christmas Day you always like to head outdoors for a bit of fresh air, don’t set off alone - offer to walk a friend or neighbour’s dog. Routine can go out the window at Christmas time, so dog owners will eagerly hand over the lead. And you can bet the dog will be keen to escape excitable children, loud crackers and a bustling house too.

Get on your bike

Whether Santa has been generous and delivered a new shiny bicycle to you on Christmas morning, or there’s an old rusty boneshaker sitting in your shed, get on your bike on the 25th. Either enjoy deserted cycle tracks alone, or join an organised event. A London cycle ride sets off from Greenwich at 10am and, if you fancy it, you can join other cyclists for lunch.

Visit a crowd-free tourist attraction

The stone circle at Avebury, Lulworth Cove on Dorset’s Jurassic coast, the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland – World Heritage Sites are often busy all year round, but not on Christmas Day. Spend time exploring an area without the crowds and marvel that you can actually take photos of these spectacular sights without anyone else being in them. North of the border, Edinburgh Zoo stays open on 25th December so pop along and wish the residents a merry Christmas!

Attend a Christmas concert

If you’re usually spend most of Christmas Day in the kitchen, a couple of hours’ reprieve at a Christmas concert will boost festive spirits, especially if you love a singalong. Check out local newspapers to see if any local churches are holding carol services on the 25th. Or if you are in Eastbourne, head to the Bandstand for 10.30am and listen to Eastbourne’s Silver Band blast out some Christmas classics.

Dish up Christmas dinner to a dog or two

There are thousands of abandoned dogs and cats in animal rescue centres around the country, cared for 365 days of the year by dedicated staff and volunteers. Join a team this Christmas Day and help to serve up doggy (and cat) dinners to some furry friends who are waiting to find their forever homes. You may even be tempted to give one another chance.

Find out more about rehoming a rescue dog

Do some gardening

Garlic is best planted in late autumn or early winter, so if you haven’t already put some cloves in the ground, Christmas Day is the ideal time to be in the garden. Rhubarb crowns can also be planted in well-prepared soil, as can strawberry plants. If you’re more of a flower lover, then pop some tulip bulbs in pots – they can be planted right up until Christmas and still flower well in the spring.

Read our list of December garden jobs

Go on a tour

London can be eerily quiet on Christmas morning, but it’s a perfect time to wander around the city’s streets. One option is to go on a guided walking tour, but take note, some set off as Big Ben chimes 6.00am! Christmas Day bus tours are also available, not only in the capital, but to further afield destinations such as Oxford, Canterbury and Windsor Castle.

Spoil yourself at home

Don’t want to leave the house? Then enjoy an alternative Christmas Day in the comfort of your own home. Indulge and celebrate doing whatever you choose – pamper yourself in the bath, read a bestseller from cover to cover, watch all eight episodes of ITV’s Victoria in one sitting. Simply relax and have fun. Merry Christmas!

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.