Wondering how to give back this Christmas Break? Volunteering at Christmas is the ultimate way to embrace the true spirit of the holiday period. By volunteering abroad this festive season, you can pair the tradition of Christmas volunteering with a meaningful adventure abroad, experiencing a new culture and giving back to communities in need.
With short-term, flexible volunteer programs and dedicated expert support, IVHQ takes the hassle out of organising volunteer holidays abroad. Whether you have one week during your winter break, or you can travel throughout December and January, IVHQ will support you to make a powerful and positive impact by volunteering over the Christmas break.
Where can you volunteer abroad this Christmas?
The good news is, now is the perfect time to make this festive season the best yet. As the world’s leading volunteer abroad organisation, International Volunteer HQ has custom designed Christmas volunteer opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean:
Or, if you want to experience something a little different to your traditional Christmas, consider giving back in Africa, experiencing a white Christmas in Europe, taking a warm winter break in Asia, or embarking on a medical mission trip with IVHQ. Here are our top picks for Christmas volunteering around the world:
Custom Christmas volunteer programs in Latin America & the Caribbean 2021
This December, IVHQ’s volunteer programs in South America, Central America and the Caribbean are offering special Christmas volunteer opportunities with a focus on holiday-oriented projects and the chance to share in culturally unique Christmas celebrations. Whether you’re looking to spend ‘the big day’ embracing the culture and traditions of a community overseas, or you want to travel post-Christmas, IVHQ has a program to work around your Christmas plans!
Latin Americans do everything with flair and enthusiasm, and Christmas is no different. Volunteering over your Christmas break in this part of the world is a unique and memorable way to spend your festive season, while also giving back to worthy communities abroad. These purpose-run Christmas volunteer missions in South America, Central America and the Caribbean promise to be eye opening, meaningful and rewarding…
Christmas volunteering in Peru 2021
In Peru, festive celebrations peak on Christmas Eve (“La Noche Buena”). It usually starts by heading to church around 10 pm for Misa de Gallo (“Rooster’s Mass”), followed by festivities including parties, feasts and fireworks whizzing through the brightly decorated streets. La Noche Buena can run late into the night, which can often make for a quiet Peruvian Christmas Day.
IVHQ’s Holiday Experience project in Peru – Cusco program has been named one of the top 25 alternative ways to spend Christmas this year by Conde Nast Traveller! This is a unique Christmas volunteer opportunity that enables you to get involved in a number of different festive activities, including wrapping presents and preparing decorations for a Christmas party for underprivileged children, travelling to an Andean village to educate locals on a medical mission campaign, participating in a community renovation project, assisting a dog shelter and spending a day taking children out for some Christmas holiday fun. On Christmas and New Year’s Day, volunteers are encouraged to relax and enjoy the local festivities.
The city of Cusco embraces elements of both Catholic and pre-Colombian traditions to celebrate an undoubtedly special Christmas. The Santuranticuy (“Selling of Saints”) Market, held in the Plaza de Armas on Christmas Eve, brings out colorful locals adorned in traditional festive dress. Add delicious seasonal cuisine and you’ve got a wonderful atmosphere amongst the beautifully illuminated churches nearby.
If you’re volunteering with IVHQ in Lima, then you’re still in for some festive treats that are unique to the area. You’ll have the opportunity to spread the holiday spirit of goodwill to children and communities in need. Standard volunteer project work gives way to Christmas volunteer opportunities, usually in various children’s shelters throughout the city. Traditionally, Christmas volunteers in Peru also travel every year to an Andean village to put on a special Christmas celebration.
Christmas volunteering in Costa Rica 2021
Christmas in Costa Rica is a vibrant celebration full of lights and music. Ticos decorate their homes and streets with wreaths of cypress trimmed with red coffee berries, ribbons, ornaments, lights, nativity scenes and offerings of fruit and toys.
The Christmas volunteer opportunity in Costa Rica is full of variety, with volunteers placed on a unique Holiday Experience project in San Jose, which allows the opportunity to experience several different projects. Tasks vary, but typically involve working with the elderly and underprivileged children, as well as helping with beautification projects at childcare centers and throwing holiday parties for children. On Christmas and New Year’s Day, volunteers are encouraged to relax and enjoy the local festivities.
Christmas volunteering in Guatemala 2021
The Guatemalan holiday season kicks off with the age-old tradition of ‘burning of the devil’, which is a spectacular sight. Dozens of families line the streets with their homemade piñatas, all going up in a blaze of firecrackers and flame. The festive season includes parades, music, torches and an outpouring of magnificent fireworks in the central plaza. December 24th is a day for family, involving late night mass, a great meal and a time to share gifts. It’s not uncommon for locals to spend Christmas Eve partying until the early hours of the morning and take things a little easier on Christmas Day.
By doing your Christmas volunteering abroad in Guatemala, you’re signing up to get involved in a number of worthwhile community initiatives. Other than the unique cultural festivities held in Antigua, volunteers will assist on a special Holiday Project which can involve experiencing a day in the life of a local coffee farmer, providing help at an elderly home, some construction and renovation tasks, throwing holiday celebrations or gift-giving with underprivileged children. Both Christmas and New Year’s Day are free to enjoy in Antigua. During this time, volunteers often band together and explore the markets, ruins and beautiful views from Cerro de la Cruz.
Christmas volunteering in Jamaica 2021
Christmas is a big, colorful celebration in Jamaica, which is celebrated by going to church, exchanging gifts with family and community members, and gathering for a large meal. Christmas Dinner is a huge feast and the highlight of the festive season for many local people.
Sadly, Covid-19 has increased unemployment and inflation in Jamaica, with more people jobless and facing higher food prices. This makes a Christmas meal out of reach for many and is why IVHQ’s local team in Jamaica have launched a special new project this year: Feeding the Homeless at Christmas.
This volunteer project aims to ensure that all members of the community, particularly those who are often forgotten and face hardship, get to enjoy Christmas Dinner. It also provides a safe space for those on the fringes of society to enjoy social interaction and connection with others after months of social distancing and isolation through the pandemic.
As a Christmas volunteer in Jamaica, you can expect to get involved in menu preparation, budgeting, cooking, distributing and serving meals, and assisting with administration and management. This project only runs for the week leading up to Christmas but can be combined with other volunteer projects in Jamaica for longer durations.
Other 2021 Christmas volunteer abroad opportunities around the world
IVHQ’s special Holiday Experience projects in South America and Central America are popular Christmas volunteer destinations for very good reasons, and promise to be remarkable experiences. But you can also head to a number of other places around the world for rewarding and enjoyable Christmas volunteering abroad. Check out our top Christmas volunteer opportunities in Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin America below.
Christmas volunteering in Ghana 2021
A much-loved destination for IVHQers, Ghana holds a special spot in the hearts of those volunteering over Christmas there. Christmas celebrations in Ghana last from the 20th of December through until the first week of January, with drumming, dancing, choirs and nativity plays a big part of the festivities. Ghana is packed full of color and character and you’ll see plenty of both here!
When volunteering over Christmas in Ghana, you can take part in Teaching, Childcare, Construction and Renovation, Sports Teaching, Medical, Medical Outreach or Agriculture projects.
All volunteers in Ghana have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture while supporting important community projects in the company of other international volunteers.
Those on Sports Teaching, Teaching and Childcare projects will take part in a special holiday project when volunteering over the Christmas period, which is a chance to socialize, play and teach children on school vacations. Come ready for a bit of adventure during your free time, with Kakum National Park, Wli Waterfall, Korokobite and Cape Coast all within easy reach of the volunteer accommodation in Accra.
Christmas volunteering in Romania 2021
Romania provides a stunning backdrop for Christmas volunteering abroad in Europe. Picture striking, snow-capped mountain ranges, ancient castles, fortified churches and hearty, warm Christmas meals. Your Christmas volunteer experience can be in important projects such as Childcare, Teaching or Special Needs Care, while you’ll have the opportunity to work alongside locals, meet like-minded fellow Christmas volunteers and explore this celebrated region.
By volunteering over Christmas in Romania, you’ll be delving into an authentic cultural experience, while also giving back to those in need at a time of year where it can mean the most to them.
If you’re not sure Romania is quite right for you, you can check out a range of other Europe volunteer opportunities here.
Christmas volunteering in Colombia 2021
Alumbrado, meaning ‘enlightened’, is the perfect word to describe the city of Bogotá during Christmas time. Different musical and other performances fill the streets, which are brought to life by illuminating lights, candles and paper lanterns.
By volunteering over Christmas on IVHQ’s Colombia - Bogotá program, volunteers take part in a unique experience and have the chance to help communities in need during the festive season. While normal volunteering activities will change over the festive period, there is plenty of opportunity for Christmas volunteers to join in local celebrations.
Christmas volunteers, and even those who cross into the New Year’s period, are able to assist with additional activities including helping to arrange small parties on Elderly Care, Feeding the Homeless and Childcare placements.
Christmas volunteering in Sri Lanka 2021
Christmas in Sri Lanka is vibrant and exciting, and involves a whole lot of fireworks! Sri Lanka is a primarily Buddhist country, but the people band together to celebrate Christmas for most of December, with firecrackers front and center. Streets are decorated, Christmas trees are installed in shops and homes and there are a whole lot of Christmas parties and dances. The atmosphere is alive the experience is unique.
Volunteers in Sri Lanka can start their programs every Monday, so you’ll be able to kick off your volunteer trip at a time that works for you! And with one-week programs, it’s a perfect option for short-term volunteer opportunities. The inclusive local team goes above and beyond to make you feel at home over the Christmas holiday, so you can set off knowing it’ll be a celebration like no other!
Christmas medical mission trips in 2021
Christmas medical mission trips are available for medical professionals, nurses, dentists, college students and pre-med students. Medical missions are also available year-round in a wide range of destinations, including Costa Rica, Peru, Guatemala, Argentina, Bali, India, Vietnam and Tanzania.
When volunteering on a medical mission trip with IVHQ, you will have the opportunity to provide medical care and healthcare education to communities where healthcare is scarce and sometimes difficult to obtain. By shadowing local doctors and nurses and working under instruction, you contribute to providing essential care to some of the most under-resourced clinics and hospitals.
Whether you have one week or 24 weeks to commit to volunteering abroad over Christmas, IVHQ and our local teams will ensure that you are contributing to meaningful projects while having the unique opportunity to spend the holiday period in a community abroad. For more information, see our full range of volunteer abroad programs.