While we're enjoying our festive dinner, sanctuary staff and volunteers will be looking after unwanted pets and rescue animals, as Linda Stewart finds out.
Mid Antrim Animal Sanctuary closed down for lockdown in the spring and has been working in a team-based system ever since, according to spokesperson Janet Hume.
"People now have to make appointments to come in and see the animals and from October to December we've been working in teams as well, both for staff and volunteers to make sure that if something happened with Covid, we have back-ups of people who can come in and do the work we need," she says.
On Christmas Day there will probably be around 20 dogs and 25 cats in the shelter, but the sanctuary stops rehoming shortly before the holiday to ensure that animals are not given as gifts.
"On Christmas Day there will be lots of walks and treats and Santa normally turns up to give out treats to the animals and walk around," Janet says.
"We're delighted that so many people have volunteered up to come up on Christmas Day to walk the dogs - the animals get as much on Christmas Day as they would at any other time of the year."
Animal care assistant Shane Steele (39), who will be caring for the dogs, has been working on Christmas Day for the last 13 years and says it's usually good fun.
"We all go in pretty early with the idea of getting everything done really early. It's good craic usually, lots of hugs - but not this year," he says.
"Santa visits and the dogs get some chicken in their kibble in the morning, and then they all get out or a run while we clean their kennels. They all get walked twice in the day. A group of four or five of us might set off with a wee group of dogs that get on together, maybe we'll put some reindeer antlers on the dogs and it's an enjoyable morning."
Cattery assistant Avril McColm (59) from Larne says it's her first Christmas Day working at the sanctuary.
"We come in, clean and feed them, do the general routine stuff first, then go round and give all the cats some extra treats like Dreamies, chicken or tuna," she says.
"Lots of people have left in treats for them - stockings and toys and treats - and we'll disperse those into the cat room as well. There's a change of routine on Christmas morning - Christmas dinner will be a bit later, but it will be a nice change. I'm looking forward to coming in to sample the atmosphere, but it will be nice to get home too.
"Hopefully when I'm up here, my parents, son and daughter will start preparing dinner so there isn't as much to do."
Janet says that more than 500 dogs and cats have been rehomed this year.
"Because we closed down completely in spring, we have rehomed fewer animals than we would normally have done," she says.
"But our bigger concern is the market that has been created for cats and dogs and the amount of the money that is being paid for them.
"We're concerned about what is going to happen down the line when life goes back to normal and people don't have the time any more. If they didn't have the time pre-Covid, they won't have the time post-Covid."
Lyn Friel, manager of Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary near Antrim, says the centre has been swamped with cats this year.
"With lockdown, the vets were closed and cats weren't getting neutered, so we were getting numerous calls from all around the country to help them - some had been injured and some were having kittens.
"We've ended up with more than 60 cats," she says.
"The past year has been difficult and the number of animals we have - dogs, cats, horses, chickens - is higher than any other year."
Lyn says that Christmas Day is the same as every other day of the year and the dogs will be getting out for all their usual walks.
"With our animals, we treat every day as if it is always going to be their last one and you can't go wrong. You should treat every day like it's Christmas for the animals and this will be an extension of that," she says.
Ahead of the holidays, the centre issued an advent appeal seeking particular foods and toys for the animals - many of which have specialist diets.
One supporter presented them with a TV for the cat room, while others donated special games that the cats can play on the TV.
"The craic is good coming up to Christmas - I believe there is going to be a Christmas jumper day happening and people are baking Christmas buns and Christmas biscuits," Lyn says.
"Christmas Day will be the same for the animals apart from the fact that the cats, dogs and horses all get a little bit extra - the horses get some apples along with their carrots.
"We have broiler chickens and they get a mixture of grain and pellets with grated broccoli, cauliflower and carrots in it. They love tinned sweetcorn so they will get that, and tinned peas through their bucket of feed.
"This is their home, so everybody will come in and the whole day will be covered to make sure they have as close to a normal day as possible."
Assisi Animal Sanctuary
Joy Hughes (29) from Donaghadee, an animal welfare assistant at Assisi Animal Sanctuary, will be looking after the animals on Christmas Day.
"This has been a hard year for the sanctuary - during the first lockdown, our charity shops had to close and we had to stop rehoming because of the restrictions. We were very lucky that the public were so generous with their donations as we couldn't do much fundraising," she says.
"People were very generous at a time when a lot of families were going through a hard time themselves because of Covid."
During lockdown the sanctuary organised a fostering scheme so that frontline workers wouldn't have to give up their pets.
The sanctuary stopped rehoming ahead of Christmas. "An animal is for life, not just for Christmas, and Christmas is such a busy time to introduce a new animal into your home, especially a rescue animal that might be a bit nervous," Joy says.
She has been working there for three years and has worked two Christmas Days.
"I love working here on Christmas Day - it's one of my favourite days of the year," she says.
"Lots of people throughout the year would donate presents and in the run-up to Christmas we sort them all out. We have shoebox appeals run through the local vets and colleges and we get all the boxes ready.
"Then we give out all the boxes and presents on Christmas Day and we video it and put it up on social media so people can see the animals enjoying them."
The sanctuary also runs an annual Santa Paws event ahead of Christmas.
"It's so that owners can bring their animals to see Santa - it's a nice thing to do, especially this year because it has been quite a sad time for everybody - it gave people something to look forward to," Joy says.
For the staff, Christmas Day is a welcome chance to get away from the paperwork and spend lots of time with the animals themselves.
"It's a day where you just get to play with animals all day, maybe take the dogs down to the field that we have or spend time with the cats and rabbits - just a day where you can spend time solely with the animals. Staff would bring in their own presents for the animals as well," Joy says.
Colleen Tinnelly, development manager with the USPCA hospital in Newry, says rehoming was suspended during lockdown this year but the animal hospital continued its usual work.
"Demand for animals has been massive, more than other years, and especially the demand for kittens," she says.
"We've also seen a high demand for dogs - we couldn't keep the dogs for people coming to rehome them.
"This year more than ever, people really wanted dogs. But what we have seen is that this has really fuelled illegal puppy farming. People are paying crazy prices for animals - an animal that was worth £300 is now selling for £1,800."
Volunteers and staff will come in on Christmas Day to coordinate feeds, although many of the animals may be brought home by the staff for fostering.
"We have a very good team that will foster the animals so that they are in a home environment," Colleen says.
"At the same time, there are some animals that would be stressed out by that so the best place for them is in the USPCA hospital."
The public have been hugely generous in the run-up to Christmas, leaving toys and treats for the animals, while local suppliers have also donated food.
Staff and volunteers will come in on Christmas morning to feed the animals, walk the dogs and carry out the daily routine.
"A dog, cat, rabbit or wild animal doesn't know it's Christmas - animal care doesn't stop for Christmas," Colleen says.
"It's the same as any other day - you will see the volunteers out walking the dogs on Christmas Day.
"At the moment we have some longer term cats here and some hedgehogs which are in hibernation with us over the winter months. They had some very intensive veterinary care and now they're in hibernation until they are released back into their natural habitat.
"We also had two corn snakes that were recently rehomed and just left last week. It's a busy environment and we couldn't do it without the help of our volunteers.
"It's been a really strange and challenging year for the charity but the staff have worked hard throughout it."