A Student’s Guide To Spending Christmas Away From Home

The holiday season is a time of joy, warmth, and togetherness. For many students, however, it can also be a period of mixed emotions, especially when they find themselves spending Christmas away from the familiar comfort of home. Whether it’s due to academic commitments, distance, or other reasons, being away from family and friends during this festive time can be challenging.

In this blog, we aim to provide a guide for students who may find themselves in this situation. We understand the feelings of nostalgia and loneliness that can creep in when you’re far from home during the holidays, but we also believe that spending Christmas away can be a meaningful and memorable experience. From decorating your dorm room or apartment to planning festive gatherings with friends, we’ll provide creative ideas to infuse the holiday spirit into your surroundings.

While it may not be the same as the celebrations you’re used to, it can be a time of personal growth, cultural exploration, and forging new bonds with friends and peers. Join us as we navigate the joys and challenges of spending Christmas as a student away from home.

Girl wearing a white sweater and Christmas cap holding a cup in front of Christmas Tree

Decorate Your Space

Regardless of how small your space might be, decorating it can help you get into the feel of the festive season. Go to your nearest store and find the decorations that seem right to you. 

Set up a small Christmas tree or hang some decorative lights. It doesn’t have to be perfect whatsoever, it just needs to feel right to you. We know it will never come close to decorating it with your loved ones, but this can be a small way of incorporating Christmas traditions even when you are not back home. 

Person decorating a Christmas tree

Visit Christmas Markets

There is no better way to experience Christmas away from home than Christmas markets. There are plenty of Christmas markets across the UK that you can go to and some of them start as early as November. You can get some delicious hot drinks or shop around for cute handmade gifts all while immersing yourself in the festive vibes of the market.

If you want to make it a bit more exciting, you can also visit the Christmas markets in neighbouring cities. You not only get to see different kinds of markets and embrace their beauty but you can also make a short trip out of it!

Girl with white jacket and beanie in front of a Christmas market

Play Secret Santa with your mates 

Even if you are not close to your family to exchange gifts with, another way to uphold the spirit of gift-giving is Secret Santa. There are a lot of other students who are also probably not going back home during the holidays and this is a great way to connect with other people in the course or your accommodation who are in the same boat. All of you can decide on a budget, get cute presents for each other, and get together to exchange them. This way you will still be able to maintain the tradition of gift-giving while still being away from home!

3 men and 2 women wearing Christmas caps exchanging gifts

Binge-watch holiday movies

There is an endless list of holiday movies to watch and there are new ones that come out every year,  so you will never run out of options! Make yourself a delicious cup of hot chocolate, switch on the Christmas lights, and get into the flow of watching Christmas movies. They are an amazing way to get your mind off of everything else and they make you feel good from within. You can choose to rewatch the classics like Home Alone or watch some of the new releases like “Best Christmas Ever” or “Best Scottish Christmas”. Click here to find the list of 2023 Christmas movies.

Hand taking popcorn from bowl while watching Christmas movie


Cook your favorite Christmas Meal

Everyone has that one dish that reminds them of Christmas. No better way to celebrate than making that for yourself! While we know that it is easier said than done, taking the time to make a meal that reminds of you your home will help you keep the traditions alive even if you are far away. It will also give you a newfound appreciation for the effort that goes into everything to prepare for a day that has always been so special to you.

Man with red apron spending cooking while celebrating


Share your Christmas lunch virtually 

Trust me, it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Another way you can still connect with your loved ones even if you are away from home is to give them a video call when they are all together. If your time zones align, you can even have dinner at the same time and talk to them while you enjoy your meal!

You don’t have to miss out on all the dinner table conversations and still feel like your loved ones are a part of your day.

Man sitting on a sofa in front of a Christmas tree calling on an tablet

Volunteer for a good cause

Christmas and New Year can be one of the busiest periods for charity shops and they will be delighted to have an extra helping hand. They will have many positions open all year long, especially during Christmas.  There are several organizations like the British Heart Foundation, Crisis, and more where you could choose to volunteer. Click here to find a list of places where you can volunteer during the Christmas period.

Volunteering during Christmas can be a good way to give back to the community. Christmas might not always be so blissful for so many people who are struggling. And by volunteering you will be able to give the spark and joy of Christmas to people who need it the most.

Man wearing green shirt holding a box volunteering

As we come to the end of our student’s guide to spending Christmas away from home, it’s crucial to acknowledge that this experience, although challenging, can be a deeply enriching and transformative one. While the warmth of family traditions and the familiarity of home may be absent, the holiday season offers a unique opportunity for personal growth, cultural immersion, and building lasting connections.

So, as you navigate this holiday season, remember that you are not alone. Many students are sharing a similar journey. Embrace the beauty of new beginnings and the warmth of shared moments. May your Christmas away from home be filled with cherished memories, personal growth, and a renewed sense of gratitude for the world around you.