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Do something different this December and make the most of the holiday time you have!

by Catherine Rodie

What will you get up to this December? Summer in Australia is all about sand, surf and fun but are there some different activities you could get into which would make your month just a little bit more exciting? Here are 4 ideas!

Have you started thinking about your Christmas holidays yet? Well, if you haven’t, let’s start, shall we? Even if you don’t have as much time off as you would like there are still so many ways to make the most of the remaining days of the year. Here are three ways that you can get more “bang for your holiday buck!”

#1: Volunteer

There are lots of reasons why people choose to volunteer their time to a good cause; for some it is the opportunity to learn a new skill, or the thrill of social interaction. For others it is simply the urge to ‘give back’ or ‘pay it forward’. Whatever the reason, volunteering is a worthwhile experience, especially at Christmas.

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“Each volunteer has their own unique story around why they volunteer and the role plays in their life,” says Lauren Stocker, National Volunteering Manager at The Smith Family.

“We expect more than 1000 volunteers will help us spread Christmas joy to families in need this year – and they will have a great time doing it.”

According to a Victorian Community Aid and Advice Bureau, there are many benefits of volunteering.

  1. You can gain employment skills
  2. More relevant work experience
  3. Understaidning and knowledge of how the community sector works
  4. Exploring new career options
  5. Increasing your employability
  6. Greater self-confidence
  7. A feeling of self fulfillment
  8. Being of service to the community

Lauren notes that many of those volunteering enjoy donating their time and talents. “They know they are contributing to a cause that is critical to our society – helping children succeed in their education,” she explains.

So what should you do if you want to be a volunteer this Christmas? Lauren’s advice is to start online. “You can view the Christmas volunteering roles available in your state by visiting our website,” she says.

Of course, the Smith Family is just one charity that needs extra hands at Christmas time. A quick web search of your local area will bring up other options to choose from.

#2: Challenge your creativity

Could you discover a hidden talent this Christmas by creating something with your hands? According to CNN, “Crafting can help those who suffer from anxiety, depression or chronic pain. It may also ease stress, increase happiness and protect the brain from damage caused by aging.”

There are many reasons to get into craft, says Catherine Carey Levisay, a clinical neuropsychologist and partner of John Levisay, the CEO of

“There’s promising evidence coming out to support what a lot of crafters have known anecdotally for quite some time. Creating – whether it be through art, music, cooking, quilting, sewing, drawing, photography or cake decorating – is beneficial to us in a number of important ways.”

Being creative is good for the soul says Zoey Martin, Editor of creative hub, the Shake. “Christmas and holidays are some of the most creative times of the year so it’s a great time to take up a creative challenge.”

Earlier this year Zoey started a monthly creative challenge, called the Shake Creative. Each day there is a prompt to follow, but that is the only guidance – the rest is up to you and your creativity.

“Everyone is creative,” says Zoey. “And not just in terms of traditional creativity – writing, painting, craft – but in everyday life. So being creative might be an idea that saves you time in the kitchen or in streamlining your workflow.”


If you are interested in joining in on the Shake Creative project you can find out more here.

Of course there are other ways to flex your creative muscles. Up-cycling has become very popular in the last few years as a way of turning something old into something new and useful. “Having something created by you is a great way to show off your individuality, which is what everyone seems to want to do at the moment,” says Better Homes and Gardens decorator Tara Dennis.

Tara’s advice is to look at websites such as Pintrest and Etsy for inspiration. She also notes that it is a good idea to at least have a rough plan of what you want to archive. “That way, you can plan for any tools and materials you may need along the way. Don’t be precious about your project,” she advises.

“Also remember that any hiccups encountered along the way may even end up adding to the character and individuality of your project,” says Tara.

#3: Have an adventure with the kids


Don’t let the words “I’m bored” get in the way of a wonderful holiday season. Without the structure of school or day-care, your children will no doubt be looking to you for their entertainment. If you want to use your holiday time having an adventure with your kids then Geocaching is a great way to start.

Geocaching is a treasure hunting game that uses a GPS to find ‘treasure chests’ that other participants have carefully hidden. Although geocaching has been going on for decades, it is gaining popularity thanks to a handy smart phone app, which can literally point you in the direction of the nearest cache.

No matter where you are you can download the app and find a cache to discover. “My kids love geocaching,” says mother of two, Sam Johnson. “The best bit about it is that you can do it anywhere. We have gone geocaching in some of the parks we thought we knew really well – and seen them in a totally new light.”

#3: Get ready for the year ahead


If you feel like you have had enough time to relax and recuperate then the Christmas holidays are a really good time to start planning for the year ahead.

Start by acknowledging and celebrating all of the things that you have achieved in 2014.  According to life coach Lee Alexander this is important because it will allow you to see your “wins” and because it will help you to see where you want to go next.

Next, think about different areas of your life and start writing down some things that you would like to achieve. For example, under health, you could write – improve fitness or take part in a sporting event.

Lee suggests that you use the SMARTER model to set some goals for the year ahead. “The most effective goals are SMARTER goals, that is, they are specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, time limited, exciting and rewarding,” she explains.

If you have children, another way of setting goals is to involve your family in the process. Lee says that there are lots of benefits to family goal setting such as fostering a sense of belonging and family cohesion.

A good way to start this process is by having a family meeting and brainstorming a list of goals. “Ask the family for their ideas for what goals they’d like to work on together. Let family members come up with ideas freely and ensure everyone has a say.”

“Write every suggestion down, and try not debate each suggestion as they come up. Then narrow the ideas for goals down to 3-5,” says Lee.

The next step is to to prioritise goals and make a plan for the year. “When a goal is reached, make sure you do something special and celebrate,” suggets Lee.

So, even if you find yourself short of time these holidays, you won’t be short of ideas.

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Are you ready for a great summer?

If the ideas above don’t inspire you – would online study make your summer more worthwhile? If you’re looking for a course – Open Colleges offers 100 online certificates, diplomas and advanced diplomas to make all your personal life goals seem that much closer. Check out 100 online courses here.

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