Zen Christmas

Yes, Christmas is gone, thank goodness. But as I don’t want to forget this activity I’m posting it here.

My students’ task for their Christmas holidays was writing an opinion essay: ‘Christmas: a time to share time with your family or a time to waste money?’. I taught how to write an opinion essay and opened a discussion in class so as to give them ideas.

Some days later I came accross this beautiful article thanks to my friend Laura Martín. The article appeared in the blog Zen Habits and talks about how much money we spend on Christmas presents and gives advice on how we could share costless things with our beloved ones. And I thought, why don’t we have our zen presents in class? And this activity was born.

  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Level: upper-intermediate, advanced
  • Language: christmas, “would like to”, etc.
  • Grouping: individual work, class work


  1. We start the activity talking about Christmas and how we could try to spend less money.
  2. I tell them about the article I read and display the slideshow embedded below, which summarises the most important ideas of the article. They discuss the ideas given.
  3. They write their names on a paper and the teacher exchanges them. We have to try to avoid uncomfortable matches.
  4. They have to think of a zen present for their classmate. In 5 minutes they have to decide what.
  5. We start “giving” our presents, saying what they mean, why we chose them and the recipient’s should thank his/her classmate and say why he/she likes the present.

I did the activity in class last December and it was wonderful. The atmosphere created was incredible and they felt really good and calm when the activity finished. The best presents were these ones:

  • One of the girls drew for her classmate a picture of her with her daughter, saying that they seemed very happy when they’re together.
  • One of the girls gave her classmate a star to make him shine even more.

If you liked the activity and used it in class, why don’t you leave a comment saying how it worked?


4 thoughts on “Zen Christmas

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