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People painting on canvas and drinking wine.
Photograph: Supplied

9 fun alternatives to the average Christmas party

Forget the usual drunken antics! This year celebrate the season in style with these creative options instead

By Maxim Boon
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The Christmas party: that annual staple of the season where most of us inevitably enjoy a little too much 'festive cheer', and end up with the almighty hangover (and a few cringey regrets) to prove it. But who says the Chrissie party has to be about necking gallons of grog? If you're looking to celebrate the season with a little more creativity than just the usual boozy knees-up, why not try these alternative activities for your yuletide shindig? Here are nine fun ideas for a Christmas party with a difference.

Wondering what to do between Christmas and New Year? We've got your back.

Sunrise tour of kayakers in front of Sydney Opera House
Sunrise tour of kayakers in front of Sydney Opera House
Photograph: Peishan Tan

Paddle out on a kayaking tour of the Harbour

Sport and fitness Swimming

Who says a Christmas shindig has to be at night? Swap your after dark plans for a dawn tour of the Harbour waters by kayak, and see a completely different side to the city you call home. Plus, you won’t be nursing that pesky hangover afterwards (well, not before the inevitable kick-ons, at least).

Three drag queens dressed in red festive outfits pose in front of a gold tinsel curtain.
Three drag queens dressed in red festive outfits pose in front of a gold tinsel curtain.
Photograph: Supplied

Let loose at a drag or cabaret show

Gay and lesbian

Once on the fringes of the entertainment spectrum, drag queens have enjoyed a mainstream renaissance in recent years (thank you very much RuPaul). But in addition to being beautiful creatures, these resourceful performers were also some of the first to figure how to make the seated service model work in bars, with dinner theatre performances taking place at venues across the city – and now they’re sleigh-ing the Yuletide. On Oxford Street, nightclub-come-restaurant Universal is going full winter extravaganza with the Premiere Christmas show (public shows are booked out, but there’s limited room for private parties). The Inner West’s drag palace the Imperial Hotel also promises a gay old time with a festive drag n’ dine, drag queen Santa photos and private party bookings.

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Boat
Boat
Photograph: Supplied/Flotespace

Book a boat on Sydney's harbour

News Weird & Wonderful

You can countdown to the New Year on land any year – why not make 2020 the one you wave goodbye to while floating on the high waters of Sydney's harbour? If you haven't got your NYE plans sorted yet – firstly, same – but secondly, you might want to round up some friends and book out a luxurious sea vessel. There are still a bunch that haven't been nabbed up yet for the New Year – and some of them have pretty sweet deals going. 

Bridge Climb Express Group
Bridge Climb Express Group
Photograph: Supplied/Sydney BridgeClimb

Scale the Harbour Bridge

Museums The Rocks

In the Beforetimes, you could reliably spy multiple groups of climbers scaling the arches of the Coathanger at virtually any time, day or night. However, since international tourism went on an indefinite hiatus, this is now a far rarer sight. Which is a shame, because climbing the Harbour Bridge is a truly spectacular experience, offering views of the city that will take your breath away. We recommend you take advantage of the tourist downturn with a group booking, and right now there are discounted offers available so you can get a great deal.

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View of sydney harbour at Quay
View of sydney harbour at Quay
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Have a soiree at a private dining room

Restaurants

If you’re looking for a distinctly sophisticated way to celebrate the season, hiring one of the city’s private dining rooms, commonly found in the finest of fine diners, is certainly one way to do it. These beautiful spaces are typically conceived so that every guest can see one another and it goes without saying that you can expect top notch, thoroughly attentive service. These private rooms don’t come cheap, but for a little extra cash you’ll get a priceless experience.

People holding paintings and wine at Brush and Sip.
People holding paintings and wine at Brush and Sip.
Photograph: Supplied

Get creative at a 'paint and sip' class

Things to do Classes and workshops

While they were definitely around before we all got acquainted with lockdown lyfe, there’s been a recent surge in the popularity of these wine-fuelled crafternoons. Learn to paint a masterpiece, guided by a skilled tutor, while you sip a few vinos with the squad. Not only will you be able to show off your creative creds, you’ll also walk away with a piece of art that could make a memorable Chrissie pressie for someone special.

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Mov'in Bed Cinema
Mov'in Bed Cinema
Photograph: Supplied

Catch a movie at an outdoor cinema

Film Outdoor cinema

’Tis the season – that is to say, summer – to sit out under the stars while enjoying a top movie. Pop-up alfresco cinemas appear all over Sydney this time of year, and this December you can even go to Sydney’s very own floating cinema, where you’ll have your own boat moored on Darling Harbour in which to kick back and enjoy a blockbuster.

Pacman made out of bubbles
Pacman made out of bubbles
Photograph: Supplied/Entertainment Park

Up the thrill factor at an amusement park

Release your inner child with a trip to one of Sydney’s fun-filled adult playgrounds. There is of course Luna Park, which makes for killer Insta-fodder as well as fun times, or the Archie Bros Cirque Eletriq arcade, which is finally reopening from December 3. There’s also a new kid on the amusement centre block, and it’s a biggy. Entertainment Park, located near Prospect, has indoor go-karting, video games, a VR arena and a heap of other cool attractions that would make for an awesome Christmas day out.

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Zero Latency
Zero Latency
Photograph: Supplied/Zero Latency

Battle it out in a VR arena

VR technology has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and one Aussie company, in particular, is showcasing exactly how out of this world this hardware is. Zero Latency, which was founded in Melbourne, has just opened its first Sydney outpost, using its second generation of untethered VR tech. With just a light backpack, goggles, headphones and a very cool looking gaming gun, you can be transported to strange new worlds where you can battle robot opponents or hordes of rampaging zombies.

Couple sits in vineyard drinking wine.
Couple sits in vineyard drinking wine.
Photograph: Supplied

Go on a Hunter Valley wine tour

Travel Collection: Short getaways

If you've got your heart set on enjoying a tipple or several at your Xmas bash, why not level-up your boozy revelries with some top shelf drops at some of the state’s best vineyards? Most tours will pick you up from the city and ferry you home afterwards, so no one has to miss out as the designated driver. Hic!

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