The silly season is gearing up for another whirlwind of celebratory parties, parades, fairs, shows, and music. ‘Tis the season for overindulgence, letting your hair down, and being mindful enough to keep your dignity intact.

The anticipation of celebrating Christmas is building up with expectations of the day beginning to snowball to galactic proportions (and explosions) on the day.

You can’t miss the annual celebratory season, whatever age, gender, culture, creed or religion you are – Christmas is everywhere and pretty difficult to ignore or to get away from.

The marketers are out in force, grabbing our attention and building our expectations for individuals and families to have a wonderful festive day surrounded by smiling friends and family. Lots of carefully selected presents for everyone and a wholesome meal to top the day off.

Christmas tends to cause a large knot in my stomach.

The panicked and often frenzied ‘what do we do for Christmas Day?’ and ‘where shall we be so it is memorable for our children?’ questions start being bandied around. There are very few ways of ignoring the event or pretending it isn’t happening. Going overseas to a non-Western non-Christian country is one way, but that seems drastic, if not expensive.

Have you ever thought what happens to people within our community who, for whatever reason, cannot be surrounded by smiling friends and family?

A new migrant to New Zealand, a refugee, a non-Christian, a single person, someone with no family, an isolated elderly person, someone in hospital or a hospice, or in prison, or an estranged family?

Let’s face it, Christmas can be a daunting prospect to most of us, but to those who are at a loose end on Christmas Day, it can be a down-right difficult day.

Being pulled into the biggest celebration of the year is not all great news for everyone in New Zealand.

Loneliness, depression, arguments, heightened relationship issues, painful memories and isolation often mar Christmas Day. While Christmas Day is meant to be about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, as well as about family and being part of our community, how many of us choose to blissfully ignore those individuals and families who have no one to celebrate with and no place to go to celebrate Christmas Day?

The results from trawling Mr Google, emailing and talking with volunteer agencies are listed below.

But first, good readers, before reading on, I challenge you to take a moment to reflect on the choices people around you have on Christmas Day. Let’s all help our fellow Kiwi families to have a memorable, and fulfilled, Christmas Day.

General ideas for celebrating Christmas Day

  • Attend Church (note: included are only the main 3 denominations represented in New Zealand):,,
  • Give yourself permission on Christmas Day to be with your immediate family.
  • Stay at home – collect different food and beverages in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day (stock up ahead of time rather than battle bodies, traffic and lack of parking spaces, prepare as much in advance as possible).
  • Make food with bought ingredients:
  • On the day, play music, sing carols and songs, give each person a list of funny conversations to talk about, play board games, take a walk in the bush or at the beach, dress up, listen to the Queen’s speech, have a BBQ, watch TV or a movie or listen to the radio (Radio NZ:
  • Have an Orphans’ Christmas – invite people you don’t know who each bring a food, beverages, conversation, and games to share.
  • Check out whether your local church, Lions, community clubs, or your local Salvation Army has a free Christmas dinner.
  • Contact your local city council or Citizens Advice Bureau ( for more information about who is offering Christmas dinner in your region.
  • The Salvation Army has free Christmas dinners in various locations across the country – 

Ideas for reducing stress on Christmas Day

  • Give yourself plenty of time to get everywhere – everyone has the same aim on Christmas day as you do. Get to your destination stress-free and in one piece, especially if you need to spend time on any state highway or motorway.
  • Go easy on the alcohol – try drinking in moderation. Give water or a fruit punch a go instead or intersperse them with drinking in moderation.
  • Keep things simple, keep to a budget and don’t over cater.
  • Keep your expectations of Christmas Day in check; it is only one day in the year.
  • Go easy on buying presents – go for the memorable small presents, make your own (children’s original artwork or try a new craft idea), see if you can get what you are after secondhand (ie: from Vinnie’s, Salvations Army stores, Hospice Shops, Trademe or Ebay).
  • Eat healthily, drink plenty of water and get out into the fresh air with your family and do something fun on Christmas Day.
  • Lastly, be kind to yourself. Christmas is a day of celebration, family, friendships, laughter, remembering, and sharing with others.
  • Check out our article on Creating calm amongst the chaos.

Ways you can help other Kiwi Families also have a memorable Christmas Day

When Christmas Day is not going to plan, you can turn to:

  • Samaritans helpline 0800 726 666 is available 24 hours a day – including Christmas Day if you have something on your mind.
  • Youthline can be reached by phone on 0800 37 66 33, or there’s a free text service via shortcode 234.
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Rachel Binning is a full-time jack-of-all-trades who has an extensive background within the health sector. She now wholeheartedly agrees with ex US President, Bill Clinton that “the toughest job in the world isn’t being a president. It’s being a parent”. Rachel juggles being a mum of two active boys with her business, Bella Photography, volunteer work for many and varied organisations that support families, and contributes weekly to community newspapers throughout Wellington.

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