Christmas is just around the corner and I’m really excited. I love baking festive treats, watching cheesy films and buying the people I love presents. But for many Christmas is a stressful, lonely and sad time. It doesn’t have to be that way, which is why I have created a list of 20 ways to give back this Christmas.
For many of us, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without food. It’s the time of year we indulge in our favourite treats and snacks, and don’t forget the slap-up Christmas bonanza that is *drumroll* Christmas Dinner! I know my Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it, and that’s why one of the first ways to give back this Christmas is food related.
1. Donate to a Food Bank
According to the Trussel Trust 1,109,309 people received an emergency three day parcel of food in the UK in 2016. The scary factor is that these statistics only apply to food banks operated by the Trussel Trust. Many other organisations are providing emergency food to families in need. This Christmas, why not consider donating some food to your local food bank. Many supermarkets have drop off points and the Trussel Trust also provides this handy ‘shopping list’.
*Don’t Forget* Most food banks are also desperately in need of non-food products such as sanitary pads, tampons and other hygiene products.
2. Fairtrade Shopping
Another way to give back this Christmas is to consider switching some of your usual shopping for a fair trade variety. Many UK Supermarkets, I checked out Sainsburys, have own-brand fair trade products ranging from tea and coffee, to biscuits, through to cleaning supplies! It really is simple to tell whether a product you are about to buy is fair trade. Simply look out for the logo.
3. Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen
Spending time at your local Soup Kitchen is ideal way to give back. Most homeless shelters are looking for volunteers all year round not just at Christmas but one thing to note, many soup kitchens operate on a local basis. So if helping at a soup kitchen is a way you want to give back, then you need to research what is available near to you.
Warm coats, hats and gloves are just one way perpetually cold people like me make it through winter. However, every winter thousands of people don’t have even the basics needed to keep themselves warm. Donating new or used clothing is a wonderful way to give back this Christmas, and here’s some ways to do it:
4. Donate Clothes to Refugees
The refugee crisis shows no sign of slowing down. That’s why it’s important that charities working to provide refugees with basic amenities continue to get the help they need. If you want to donate clothes to refugees there are a number of ways to do it, check this website out for more information. The important thing is make sure that the clothes are warm, durable and built to last. The Guardian also has this handy map of places that are accepting help for refugees in your local area.
5. Make a Charity Shop Donation
A big word in the blogosphere this year is ‘minimalism’. I think a lot of us recognise that we have more things than we probably need, or use. This is especially true of my wardrobe. I love to go shopping for new clothes and putting together outfits is something I get huge joy from. That being said, I know when it’s time to donate clothes that deserve more love than they are getting. If this sounds like a familiar story, why don’t you consider donating a bag of clothes and good quality shoes to a charity shop.
6. Christmas Jumper Day
Every December 16th is officially Christmas Jumper Day. This charity fundraiser is in aid of Save The Children and has been running since 2012. This is perfect way to get your workplace involved in giving back this Christmas. The concept is simple, everyone is encouraged to wear a cheesy Christmas jumper and donate £2 to Save The Children. The proceeds go to helping children living in poverty in the UK and the World.
A huge part of Christmas is giving and receiving presents. But this year, why not consider being a little bit more intentional with the gifts you choose? Does Aunty Maggie really need another bottle of bubble bath, for example? She’ll only give it back to you next year!
7. Buy a Charity Gift
If you are still stumped for what to get your bother/niece/mother/friend then Charitygifts.org might have the solution. The website is packed with ‘gifts with a purpose’. Here you can adopt an animal, sponsor a teacher in developing countries and much more. It’s not just sponsored gifts either, they have a huge range of sweets, toys and other things to tempt you.
8. A Letter From Santa
Can you remember sitting down to write your letter to Santa when you were a child? I loved sitting with the catalogue and looking at the things I really couldn’t live without. Hello Barbie Dream House! Imagine how excited you’d be if Santa had actually written back?! For a suggested donation of £5 the NSPCC in association with Lindt will create a personalised letter from Santa himself and in the process continue their work to help children across the country.
9. Operation Christmas Child
Samaritan’s Purse is a charity that is dedicated to bringing Christmas presents to the poorest children across the globe. The concept is simple. You fill a shoebox with sweets, toiletries and presents, wrap it off and send it off. This year we got involved with this at the company I work for and we managed to create 25 boxes for girls and boys from 3 to 15.
Time is the most valuable resource we have. So choosing to donate your time in the busy festive season is a really lovely way to give back this Christmas. You could go a formal volunteering option, or maybe you could just ask friends and family if they need a little helping hand? It doesn’t have to be too complicated but it is rewarding.
10. Volunteer Your Skills
One of the most personally rewarding ways to give back this Christmas is to volunteer. Luckily, the number of ways for you to get involved are endless! Lots of charities run volunteering campaigns across the country during the festive period. So, it’s really as easy as picking a charity that speaks to you and getting in contact. If you want some ideas then you could consider visiting an elderly person in need, or take the Night Shift at your local Crisis Centre.
11. Random Acts of Kindness
It’s as easy as holding the door open for someone. The essence of Christmas is about spreading cheer and the simplest way to do it? Random acts of kindness! The other day, someone on the bus complimented me on my coat. It was just an out of the blue compliment but I was having a bad day and this moment meant enough to me that I’m telling you now. There really shouldn’t be a limit on random acts of kindness in my opinion. If you want a few ideas check out this amazing website
12. Give Blood
Ok this is slightly more than donating your time. But did you know that last year 1 in 5 people missed their regular blood donation appointments during the festive period? We all get rushed off our feet in the run up to Christmas but taking time to donate blood can save a life.
I have hesitated to mention money in this post because I don’t like to suggest that giving back this Christmas means spending money. However, recent developments in Syria and Yemen have reminded me that sometimes, the best thing to do is to donate what you can. This means that charities working to help people can continue doing their jobs. I also want to state that my intention isn’t to be political here, any cause you want to donate to is worthy. But here are some suggestions:
13. Donate to Disaster Emergency Committee
Right now they have launched a Yemen Crisis Appeal. Reports have suggested that Yemen is only months away from running out of food and is in the middle of a humanitarian crisis. To combat this, The Disasters Emergency Committee brings together 13 leading UK aid agencies to focus on providing aid. By working together they aim to raise more money to save lives and rebuild shattered communities.
14. Donate to Organisations Working in Syria
The Syrian government has blocked UN aid shipments from entering Aleppo since the siege barricades went up in July. Although it’s not always clear what charities you can donate to that are trying to help the trapped citizens of the city, a list of trustworthy local and international HGOs working on the ground has been provided here.
15. Donate to Shelter or Women’s Aid
This Christmas an estimated 120,000 children in the UK will be homeless. I don’t know about you, but I was shocked to see that statistic. Shelter helps to provide emergency accommodation for men, women and children because the believe everyone deserves to have a safe, secure, affordable home, not just at Christmas time.
Women’s Aid works to combat the effects of domestic abuse on women and children in the UK. They don’t have a specific Christmas appeal this year, but still need vital funds to ensure that they can work towards helping anyone affected by abuse get the help they need.
You didn’t think I’d let you get away without some bookish options did you? The best thing about giving back this Christmas is that you can tailor what you do to suit own interests. My main hobby is reading and so I love the idea of helping some bookish organisations:
16. Book Aid International
One in five people worldwide cannot read. But at Book Aid International, they understand the opportunities and pleasure that reading can bring and believe everyone should have the chance to read. That’s why they work to stock libraries in remote areas where books are scarce.
17. Donate Your Books
If you’re like me (a book hoarder) then you probably way too many books. I actually have different editions of the same book! And while most of the year I will argue passionately about why it’s vital to have three copies of Pride and Prejudice on my bookshelf, I also appreciate when it’s time to have a clear out. I’m not talking about giving away your prize folio editions. But we all have books on our shelves that we enjoyed, but for whatever reason won’t read again. Donate them!
For a more in-depth of Bookish Charities you can support check out this article from Book Riot.
In an effort to stop this blog post running on forever I have grouped together these final three suggestions into one section!
18. Buy Charity Christmas Cards
If you are planning to send Christmas Cards this year, this is a great option. Charity Christmas Cards continue to be one of the biggest fund drives for Charities. Plus it makes sitting down to write all your cards a little extra special when you know that you have contributed to a good cause by buying them.
19. Get Knitting
For the crafters out there, this is a little charity with a great purpose. Knit for Peace UK is an initiative of the Charities Advisory Trust. It grew out of projects that were developed in Rwanda and India, which brought together women of traditionally hostile communities. Today they are always looking for knitted donations and knitting supplies. Find out more here.
Something else you may spot when you’re out shopping are the little knitted hats popping up on bottles of Innocent smoothies. This aren’t just a gimmick, they are part of the ‘Big Knit’ project which aims to help older people stay warm this winter. Here’s how to get involved.
20. Adopt a Pet From a Shelter
A pet is for life, not just for Christmas. But if you are excited to add a furry addition to the family this year, why not consider adopting a pet from an animal shelter? What says ‘ways to give back this Christmas’ better than giving an abandoned animal the chance to be part of a new family this year?
There you have it. 20 ways to give back this Christmas
Of course, there are an infinite number of ways to give back this Christmas. But I hope that I’ve given you a few ideas to get you started.
I’d love to hear any other ideas to add to the list so please share your ideas!