Updated for 2019 Christmas Volunteer Trips Abroad
Once again Christmas is creeping up quicker than ever. How are you going to spend your holiday break? Christmas volunteering is the ultimate way to give back and a hark to the true spirit of the holiday. By taking your break abroad, you can pair the tradition of Christmas volunteering with a meaningful adventure abroad, experiencing a new culture and giving back to communities in need.
The good news is, it’s not too late to make this festive season the best yet. As the world’s leading volunteer abroad organization, IVHQ has specially organized Christmas volunteer opportunities in:
- Costa Rica.
Or, if you want to experience something completely different to your traditional Christmas consider giving back in Africa, experiencing a white Christmas in Europe, or taking your winter break trip in Asia.
With short-term flexible volunteer programs and dedicated expert support, IVHQ takes the hassle out of organizing volunteer holidays abroad. Whether you have 1 week during your winter break, or you can travel over December or January, International Volunteer HQ will support you to make a powerful and positive impact during Christmas.
Keep reading to learn more about places to volunteer during Christmas:
South America volunteer opportunities over Christmas break
This December, IVHQ’s volunteer programs in South America and Central America are offering special Christmas volunteer opportunities with a focus on holiday-oriented projects and the chance to share in culturally-unique 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!
Keep reading to explore the purpose run Christmas volunteer missions in South or Central America…
Christmas volunteering in Peru
In Peru, the celebrations peak on Christmas Eve (“La Noche Buena”). This usually starts with heading to church around 10 pm for Misa de Gallo (“Rooster’s Mass”), followed by lively festivities including house parties, fireworks whizzing through the brightly decorated streets and plentiful feasts. La Noche Buena can run late into the night, which can often make for a quiet Peruvian Christmas Day.
IVHQ’s Peru – Lima program offers a chance to spread the holiday spirit of goodwill to children and communities in need. In December, as a break from the standard volunteer projects, volunteers help out with Christmas-oriented activities in various children’s shelters throughout the city. Traditionally, volunteers also travel every year to an Andean village to put on a Christmas celebration.
If you’re volunteering with IVHQ in Cusco, then you’re still in for some festive treats that are unique to the area. The city embraces elements of both Catholic and pre-Colombian traditions to celebrate an undoubtedly special time. The Santuranticuy (“Selling of Saints”) Market, held in the Plaza de Armas on Christmas Eve, colorfully brings out locals adorned in traditional dress, delicious cuisine, creating a wonderful atmosphere amongst the beautifully illuminated churches nearby.
Volunteers who apply for either the December 23rd 2019 or December 30th 2019 start dates will participate on a special Holiday Experience project, which allows the opportunity to experience several different projects, including wrapping presents and preparing decorations for a Christmas party for underprivileged children, traveling to an Andean village to educate locals on a Medical Campaign, participating in a community renovation project, assisting the dog shelter and spending a day taking children out for a little holiday fun. On Christmas and New Year’s Day, volunteers are encouraged to relax and enjoy the local festivities.
Christmas volunteering in Colombia
Alumbrado, meaning ‘lighted’ is the perfect word to describe the city of Bogota during Christmas time. The streets of Bogota are lined with lights, candles and paper lanterns which illuminate the area in a glow, accompanied by music and performances.
IVHQ’s volunteer program in Colombia offers volunteers a special experience and the chance to help communities in need during the festive season. There is still availability for volunteers to apply for the 15th December 2019 start date in Bogota. For those who cross into the Christmas and New Year’s period, additional activities will include assisting with small Christmas parties at Elderly Care, Feeding the Homeless and Childcare placements.
Christmas volunteering in Costa Rica
Christmas in Costa Rica is a vibrant celebration of lights and music. Ticos decorate their homes and streets with wreaths of cypress trimmed with red coffee berries, ribbons, ornaments, lights and nativity scenes where the locals often place offerings of fruit and toys.
Costa Rica volunteers who apply for either December 23rd 2019 or December 30th 2019 start dates will participate on a unique Holiday Experience project, which allows the opportunity to experience several different projects. Tasks vary, but typically involve working with the elderly and with 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
The Guatemalan holiday season kicks off with the age-old tradition of ‘burning of the devil’, which is a spectacular sight, with families lining the streets with their homemade pinatas, all going up in a blaze of firecrackers and flame. The season proceeds with 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 the eve partying until early hours of the morning and spend Christmas Day sleeping off the festivities of the night before.
Other than the unique cultural festivities held in Antigua, participating on the IVHQ Guatemala program provides a great opportunity to try your hand in supporting a variety of projects. Volunteers who apply to start the Guatemala Program on the December 23rd 2019 or December 30th 2019 will partake in a special Holiday Project which may include 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 and gift giving with underprivileged children. Both Christmas and New Year’s day is a free day to enjoy in Antigua, during this time it is very common for volunteers to band together and explore the markets, ruins, and beautiful views from Cerro de la Cruz.
If you’re looking for Christmas volunteer trips outside of South America or Central America, you can also volunteer on these recommended programs over the festive period.
Volunteer in Romania this Christmas
Make Romania your #1 destination this Christmas. While volunteering your time and contributing to projects, such as Childcare, Teaching or Special Needs Care, you’ll have the opportunity to work alongside local people, meet like-minded volunteers and explore this celebrated region against a breath-taking backdrop. Think striking mountains, ancient castles, fortified churches. Enough said. If you are looking for another volunteer opportunity in Europe over Christmas then consider volunteering in Portugal.
Volunteer in Kenya this Christmas
Traveling to Kenya provides a priceless experience year-round, and those volunteering here over Christmas have the unique opportunity to join their host families, community members and fellow volunteers to mark the occasion. If you’re planning on traveling solo, you’ll be well supported by our local team and never short of volunteer travel buddies to explore the adventureland at your doorstep. In the lead-up to Christmas and post the celebrations, you’ll be able to engage in Teaching, Childcare, Special Needs Care, Sports Education, Women’s Education and Music projects in the rural and urban areas in and around Nairobi. Many volunteers are pro-active in organizing Christmas parties or activities to exchange traditions and get into the Christmas spirit too.
Volunteer in Ghana this Christmas
A much-loved destination amongst IVHQers, Ghana holds a special spot in the hearts of those volunteering with IVHQ over Christmas. Whether you’re volunteering in Teaching, Childcare, Construction and Renovation or Agriculture, 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. Come ready for a bit of adventure during your free time with the Kakum National Park, Wli Waterfall, Korokobite and Cape Coast within easy reach of the volunteer accommodation in Accra.
Volunteer in Sri Lanka this Christmas
The IVHQ Sri Lanka program is based in Kandy, a cultural and spiritual hub centered around a breathtaking lake. You’ll be immersed in the local culture and work with fellow volunteers who you can size up as potential travel buddies for weekend adventures! With volunteer programs starting every Monday, you’ll be able to kick off your volunteer trip at a time that works for you! And with 1-week programs, it’s a perfect option for short-term volunteer opportunities. The inclusive local team go 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!
Looking for different winter break volunteer opportunities in Asia? Consider IVHQ programs based in Cambodia, China, India - Delhi, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam.
Whether you have 1 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.