Updated for 2019 Christmas Volunteer Trips Abroad
How are you going to give back this Christmas? Christmas volunteering is the ultimate way to embrace the true spirit of the holiday. Each year, people volunteer over Christmas, helping those in need with food and gifts. By taking a 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 around the world.
The good news is, now is the perfect time to make this festive season the best yet. As the world’s leading volunteer abroad organization, International Volunteer HQ has specially organized Christmas volunteer opportunities in:
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, or taking your winter break 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 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 during Christmas.
Christmas Volunteer Abroad Opportunities In Latin America
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 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 and Central America promise to be eye opening, meaningful and rewarding…
Christmas volunteering in Peru
In Peru, the 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 Peru – Lima program offers a chance to spread the holiday spirit of goodwill to children and communities in need. From December 16, standard volunteer project work gives way to Christmas volunteer activities, 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.
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 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.
Volunteers in Cusco over the Christmas break, starting their program on either December 23rd 2019 or December 30th 2019 will participate on a special Holiday Experience project. 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, traveling to an Andean village to educate locals on a medical 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.
Christmas volunteering in Colombia
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. For those wanting to volunteer over Christmas in Colombia, the closest start date is 15 December 2019. While normal volunteering activities will change over the festive period, there is plenty of opportunity for 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 Costa Rica
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 who start their program on either December 23rd 2019 or December 30th 2019 all placed 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 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. 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 who start the Guatemala program on December 23rd 2019 or December 30th 2019 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.
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.
Christmas Volunteering in Romania
Romania provides a stunning backdrop for Christmas volunteering abroad. 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 Kenya
Volunteering in Kenya is an eye-opening experience into the magic of people. The Kenyan people are eternally optimistic, smiling and fun, and spending the Christmas period with them only adds to the enjoyment. As a particularly popular program, you know that you’ll be volunteering in Kenya with a bunch of other like-minded Christmas volunteers.
This is a Christmas volunteer opportunity that enables you to have an authentic festive experience abroad. Volunteers on most projects are accommodated in homestays, meaning you can spend Christmas with your host family, doing it like they do!
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 after the celebrations, you’ll be able to engage in Teaching, Childcare, Special Needs Care, Sports Education, Women’s Education and Music projects in and around Nairobi, Mombasa or in the more rural Maasai. Many volunteers are proactive in organizing Christmas parties or activities to exchange traditions and get into the Christmas spirit.
Christmas Volunteering in Ghana
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 between December 14 - January 8, 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 Sri Lanka
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!
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.