10 Christmas party alternatives

Pia Ranada
If you want Christmas to be different this year, take on one of our 10 suggestions

SOMETHING DIFFERENT, SOMETHING NEW. Make this Christmas memorable not just for you but for others, too. Illustration by Emil Mercado/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Potluck dinner and parlor games followed by exchanging gifts with your “Secret Santa” are the typical components of a Christmas party held among friends, classmates and officemates.

But this year, why not shake things up a little bit? 

Rappler suggests 10 different ways to celebrate Christmas with the gang while still keeping the essential elements of friendship and giving:

1) Take a Christmas roadtrip.

Hop in the car with your friends in the dead of night. Bring along some Christmas delicacies like hamon, queso de bola and a bottle of wine in a cooler with ice.

Drive away from the city to a high place with a view (for Metro Manileños, this can be Antipolo, Rizal or Batangas) or the beach, all the while listening to your Christmas playlist on the car’s speakers.

Arrive at your destination at dawn and watch the sunrise together while relishing Christmas hamon and wine. This would also be the perfect time to exchange gifts.

2) Have a Christmas movie marathon.

Close the blinds, bring out the pillows and blankets and tuck-in in front of the TV for some classic Christmas flicks. Bring back memories of past Christmases with the Christmas movies of your childhood like Home Alone, The Grinch and Big Santa.

Craving some romance? There’s Serendipity and Love Actually. In for vintage? Watch It’s a Wonderful Life. And if it’s horror you want, there’s always Jack Frost.

3) Go on an exchange gift shopping spree.

Add a twist to gift-giving by shopping for them together! Pick a store of your choice (preferably one where all the participants love to shop), set a time limit and go on a race to buy gifts for the rest of the participants using your knowledge of their preferences and personalities.

By the end of the allotted time, everyone should be at the designated meet-up point to exchange gifts. This can be anywhere from the mall’s giant Christmas tree or a restaurant where you can enjoy some chow at the same time. 

If you and your friends are fashionistas, you can hold this at your favorite clothing store or shopping center. If you’re more into books or music, pick a giant book store or music store.

To add a twist, you can even think of a theme for the gifts like “has to be kinky,” “fluffy and pink,” “from the 90s,” and whatever other crazy ideas you might have!

4) Throw a Christmas party for someone else.

So many people in the world don’t get a chance to celebrate Christmas parties, so what better way to celebrate Christmas than by throwing them one?

With your friends or officemates, pick an orphanage, home for the aged or relief center and plan a Christmas party for them that they’ll never forget. Assign yourselves potluck food, pool your funds together to buy everyone simple gifts and think of fun games for everyone.

You may not take home bags of gifts for yourselves but you’ll be taking home the much more rewarding feeling of having made other people happy — perhaps that’s the best gift you could ever give each other.

5) Have a Christmas cookdown.

Engage your friends, officemates or orgmates in friendly competition to see who can cook the yummiest noche buena. Gather together in someone’s kitchen (ideally, one that is spacious and complete in cooking and baking appliances), team up or pair up, don your aprons and cooking gloves and cook!

When everyone is finished, line up all the finished dishes and prepare for some chow time. You can judge amongst yourselves who did the best job or have your boss or team leader decide. 

If you want to take out the competitive element, assign the teams to parts of the noche buena: soup, appetizer, main course and dessert. 

6) Go carolling together.

There’s nothing like teamwork to bond friends together. If your friends are the performing type (especially if you’re all part of a glee club or theater production), why not pool your talents together and put on a show for the neighbors?

Devote some afternoons for singing practice then in the days leading to Christmas day, knock on doors in the neighborhood and get ready to perform. After you have sufficiently brightened up your neighbor’s afternoon or evening, end with a cheerful “Thank you, thank you! Ang babait ninyo, thank you!”

7) Invade an amusement park.

Christmas is the time of year when amusement parks unveil rides, events and promos just for the holiday season. Take advantage of this with your thrill-seeking friends!

Who knows, you might even get to meet Santa or watch the fireworks at midnight!

8) Go to Simbang Gabi together.

Christmas is not just a time for parties, but for prayer and reflection as well. Attend Simbang Gabi as a barkada and pray your thanks for a wonderful year together.

Afterwards, enjoy an early breakfast of puto bumbong and hot chocolate or do any of the suggestions above. 

Simbang Gabi begins on December 16.

9) Have an arts and crafts gift-making session.

This activity is for the very artistic and crafty or those trying to be artistic and crafty. Make like Santa’s elves and create your gifts to each other together!

Gather arts and craft materials in someone’s living room or terrace and make gifts from scratch. You can make notebooks, bird houses, picture frames, book marks, laptop sleeves, anything goes!

At the end of the session, present your gifts to each other. You’ll know just how much hard work and creativity went into that DIY gift. 

10) Experience other Christmas cultures together.

For friends with the resources and time, go on a trip somewhere new to see how other cultures celebrate Christmas. Hop on a plane to any part of the world and get ready to open your mind and heart to all the other ways the holiday is celebrated.

Ever wonder what Santa Claus is called in other countries or what special Christmas dishes they eat on the other side of the world? Now is your chance to find out together. You can also go for somewhere closer to home by traveling to other parts of the country and experiencing their Christmas traditions. – Rappler.com


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How will YOU celebrate your Christmas? Tell us by sending your story and photos with subject heading RAPPLER CHRISTMAS to desk@rappler.com.

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.