What To Do On Christmas When You Don’t Celebrate It

What To Do On Christmas When You Don’t Celebrate It

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year for many people, but a large number of Australians don’t celebrate it. If you’re without plans this year, here’s how to make the most of your day off.

The Obvious Stuff

Chinese restaurants and cinemas traditionally stay open on Christmas day for those of us who have nowhere else to go. In fact, my Christmas plans involve both because I enjoy them. While this guide will include ways to find other activities, you shouldn’t necessarily rule out these classic non-Christmas activities. They’re staples of the un-holiday for good reason.

Chinese Food


Finding a Chinese restaurant that’s open on Christmas doesn’t take much work. Click here to search Yelp for options near you that are open. A few phone calls (or, in my case, one) should find you some good options. If you’re in a larger city with a large cluster of Chinese restaurants, look in that area as well. Don’t forget to make a reservation even if it’s just dinner for you or a small party. Popular restaurants sometimes receive so much business on Christmas day that they can’t accommodate everyone. Last year, when I visited a restaurant unprepared, they laughed at me and said there was no way I was getting in. When I finally found a place, it took over an hour to get a table. Perhaps you won’t run into a problem, but it’s always better to be prepared. If Chinese food isn’t your thing, Eatability has a list of restaurants that are open today.



For your entertainment, movies are the traditional choice. Several come out on Christmas day because theatres attract both people who celebrate the holiday and those that don’t. Since you can buy movie tickets online, it’s easy to ensure you have a seat in advance. Just hit up your Event Cinemas app or buy directly from your theatre of choice in advance. Because theatres tend to be very busy on Christmas, you’ll want to show up earlier than usual — at least 30 minutes — if you don’t have the option to select your seat in advance. If you can buy your ticket from a theatre with reserved seats, that’s your best bet. Just purchase early or you may not have access to the best ones.

The Not-So-Obvious Stuff



Several attractions remain open on Christmas day, especially in larger cities. As always, call ahead before making plans. Here are your options:

  • Pretend to Be a Tourist: Tourist attractions tend to stay open on Christmas, especially in larger cities. This includes places like Luna Park and Taronga Zoo. Find out what’s local to your area — chances are they may have special Christmas hours. Of course, many tourist attractions don’t have to remain open for you to enjoy them. If you go check out a monument or historical landmark, they’re around on Christmas and cost you nothing.
  • Visit a Park or Beach: Take advantage of the warm weather and go chill out in a park or go for a swim.
  • Get a Room: If you’ve got some spare cash lying around, get a room at a hotel. Hotels can’t exactly close on Christmas and offer plenty of amenities. As always, be sure to call ahead and find out if there are any Christmas day restrictions.
  • Use Christmas as a Catch-Up Day: Is everyone out of town? Have you been neglecting chores, work, your hobbies, generally hacking your life, or even working on a few DIY projects? While getting things done may not be anyone’s first choice on their day off, Christmas or otherwise, you can spend at least part of your day knocking a few things off your to-do list and the rest of the time relaxing. That way you’ll get a break and still feel accomplished.
  • Spend Time with Friends and Family at Home: Just because you don’t celebrate Christmas itself doesn’t mean you can’t spend the day with family and/or friends. Play games, watch a movie, cook together or talk. You don’t have to go out to have fun, so don’t rule out staying in with people you care about.

These are just a handful of options. We couldn’t possibly list them all here, but call a few places to find out if they’re open. You might be surprised.

Plan Ahead

  1. Make a list of the places you want to go.
  2. Call nearby locations to confirm they’ll be open, as not every chain follows corporate holiday hour recommendations. It’s always a good idea to find out their exact hours for Christmas day too.
  3. Make reservations at any restaurant(s) you plan to visit.
  4. Put together a basic timeline of the day, accounting for travel time, so you don’t lose any reservations, miss a movie or arrive after the store closes.

If you follow those steps you’ll be ready to enjoy a very special non-Christmas, whether you’re going solo or enjoying the day with others.

Photos by abdulsatarid (Shutterstock), Katarina Kirilova (Shutterstock), Paul Lowry, KB35, Pierce Martin, Elvert Barnes and Adam Dachis.


    • Actual, as someone who volunteers all year around Christmas is the time of the year that volunteers are in oversupply. We could use some people during the non-Christian holiday times of the year.

    • Goodness, you must know some really nice Christians! While there are some wonderful ones around, implying all of them do charity work all year is a bit rich. 95% of Christians in my experience are selfish buggers. I suppose you could argue, they’re not real Christians in that case.

  • I hate that I am forced to take time off for a religious holiday. Twice a year I feel as if I am having Christianity shoved down my throat. When will the governments get with the program and let people chose to work like a normal public holiday

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