Zen Christmas

This year I decided to repeat this activity I had done three years ago (explained here). This is what I wrote in that article:

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 so this activity was born.

And this is the ACTIVITIY:

  • Time: 30-50 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. We play “Secret Santa” and for that 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 5-10 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.

The atmosphere created was incredible and they felt really good and calm when the activity finished. The best presents were these ones:

  • One student made up a poem for a classmate and sang a song for her.
  • I received a pair of glasses drawn on paper and cut out, with the word “happiness” written.
  • One student promised he would prepare a drawing for another classmate.
  • Lots of music and books recommendations.
  • One of the girls gave her classmate a star to make him shine even more.

When I did the activity back in 2010, nobody had Internet connection in class, nor did we have wifi. But my students this year could take advantage of the Internet and they used it to show pictures of the gifts and play music.

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


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