Spending Christmas At University? Our Top Tips And Activities For A Fun Time

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For some students, whether international or domestic students, Christmas time does not bring with it a mad dash to get back home to see family and friends. 

Some students don’t have anywhere to go over Christmas, they come from a family or place where Christmas is not celebrated, have too much university coursework and exams to study for, or they just simply cannot afford to go home over the Christmas break. 

As most of the campus packs up and shuts down over Christmas at university, it is important to think about what you can do to stay busy and have fun when spending Christmas at university.

1. Keep A Positive Mind

keeping positive whilst at uni over christmas

The first thing to do as a student staying at university over Christmas is to keep a positive outlook throughout. 

As the days get shorter, the temperature gets colder and more students leave town as Christmas approaches, it can be difficult to stay motivated. 

Wherever you live, there are loads of things to do in the run-up to Christmas, and there are always other people around who are in a similar position to you, so look at the positives and make it a festive break to remember. 

This is the perfect time to relax, spend time alone doing things you’ve been putting off, making new friends, going for long walks, discovering parts of the city you’ve never seen before, and making time for things that you never have time for during term time.

2. Look For Other Students

a group of students happy spending the holidays together

There will be other students staying at university over Christmas, so why not try and find out who are and make some plans together? 

If there are other people in your student accommodation staying over Christmas, you can plan a night out, go out for a meal, or cook a Christmas dinner at home with guests, where every person brings a dish to add to a community feel. 

For some students who stay at university over Christmas, it can be like a completely new life, making friends that they didn’t know existed just a few weeks before and forming friendships that last. 

With student accommodation much quieter over this period it naturally brings together those that are still around, and you can have a lot of fun with a new set of friends, exploring the city together, cooking meals together, watching TV and films together, or just relaxing. 

It’s nice to know that there are other people around if you need some company.

3. Get To Know Your City Better

city at chrismtas

University is tough. You’ll have spent the last few months working hard, and even though you might think you know the city well, staying over Christmas gives you the chance to explore it some more. 

Take some time over the Christmas break to act like a tourist for the day in the city. 

Go to the museum, and the galleries, walk around places in the city that you haven’t ventured to before, try new cafés and restaurants and make the most of some spare time that you just don’t get during term time. 

Your city is wonderful, you chose to live there for a reason, but it is easy to get side-tracked and stuck in a routine of day-to-day university life where you don’t see much outside of your bubble. 

Rectify that this Christmas and find out more about where you’re living.

4. Take Up Some Christmas Volunteering

two girls volunteering whilst at uni

Many people feel lonely over Christmas. Those without families and friends for support, the ever-growing homeless population, and those who are stuck in the hospital sick over this period. 

There are a few volunteering jobs that mean a great deal more at this time of year purely down to the fact that it is Christmas. 

If you are staying at university over Christmas, think about the different ways you can help. Homeless shelters often require volunteers to help serve up Christmas dinner to the homeless on Christmas Day. 

The Samaritans are always looking for volunteers to man the phones during a particularly sombre time of year. 

Look for volunteering opportunities through your Students’ Union and you’ll find something worthwhile to help with this Christmas.

5. Take Time To Rest

relaxing on a bed whilst at university

You have worked very hard this year so far and at some point, you need to take a rest. When the Christmas break is over and January hits us fast and hard, you’ll be in the thick of it with exams and coursework again. 

Staying at university over Christmas gives you ample opportunity to recharge your batteries. 

You won’t have the long-distance travelling to home and back to contend with, so why not take those days to just relax, have a bit of ‘me’ time and think about anything other than your uni work?

6. Speak To Your Family And Friends

christmas calls with family

Even though you’re not going home over Christmas, your friends and family back home (or wherever they are in the world) will still want to hear from you. 

Video chat with your loved ones to stay close and connected with them over this period. 

We all got used to video quizzes, online parties, and the like over lockdown, embrace the tech and stay involved with your friends online if you cannot be at home this Christmas.

7. Go Out To The Christmas Market

christmas market stalls

There is a Christmas market in almost every town and city these days. 

If you are staying at university over Christmas and you are struggling to feel festive, they provide you with the perfect chance to see some Christmas lights, grab some mulled wine or a hot chocolate, eat some tasty food and find some last-minute gifts for friends here, or to send back to family at home. 

Depending on where you are in the country you might also want to make a day out of it, travelling to one of the bigger Christmas markets, such as Manchester, Newcastle, or the Winter Wonderland in London.

8. Put The Decs Up


If you celebrate Christmas but can’t get home this year, you could still put some Christmas decorations up in your student accommodation. 

You can pick up a small ‘fake’ tree from your local supermarket, or you can go all in and buy a real tree. 

Layer the Christmas tree with tinsel and baubles and little festive trinkets to make the magic appear. 

Around your student home, if you want to go fully festive, you can add a wreath, hang snowflakes from the windows or add seasonal plants such as Holly or Mistletoe, just so everyone who enters knows that it’s Christmas! 

If you’re going to miss being at home this year, bring some of your family traditions into your own home, such as hanging a stocking at the end of your bed on Christmas Eve night.

9. Have A Christmas Film Season

watching movies at christmas time whilst in university

It is way too cold to go outside over Christmas, so why not get comfortable, bring in the tasty snacks and sit down to watch all your favourite festive films. Classics, such as It’s a Wonderful Life, The Snowman, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and Elf, bring plenty of warmth and love into your student home this Christmas. 

Don’t be put off by people saying Die Hard and Gremlins aren’t Christmas films, they are and should be enjoyed alongside Love!

10. Cook A Christmas Dinner

festive Christmas dinner

Whether you do a Christmas dinner for one or invite around the other people you’ve met who are staying at university this Christmas is down to you, but there is no reason why you can’t celebrate the day with a traditional Christmas feast. 

Order in some mince pies, the brussels sprouts and another veg, get in a smaller turkey, or chicken crown if it’s not for a big group of people (or forgo the meat altogether and find some amazing veggie Christmas recipes). 

Have some crackers, complete with paper hats and rubbish jokes, to pull with your guests and just have fun with it!

Staying at university this Christmas might not be that bad after all. There are plenty of things for you to do over the festive season when staying in student accommodation rather than going home. Whatever your reasons or circumstances you can choose to make new friends, relax, and recharge your batteries, explore the city you live in, invite people around for Christmas films and Christmas dinner, and make the most of this quieter time of year on campus!