At Christmas there’s so much emphasis on giving and receiving presents, eating lots of food, and just generally overindulging with those you love. It’s so important to take a step back at this time and think about the meaning of Christmas and what and who you want to be helping at this time. For me Christmas is obviously about spoiling others, but mostly it’s about the atmosphere and feeling around this time. Christmas is magical for me.
I feel so much nostalgia, happiness, comfort and genuine joy at this time of year and really try to make those around me feel the same. I think I feel it so strongly because it’s my favourite time of year anyway, when the evenings are dark and cosy and when you have the biggest excuse to see all your friends and family and eat and drink everything and anything you like, but also because it’s finite. Christmas day comes so quickly and the festive period flies by, so knowing that you have to make the most of it in this time motivates me to enjoy everything.
Every year I think about what I can do to help others and spread my festive cheer past my close circles and I know that this year in particular it’s so important to do this as there are many more people than usual spending Christmas alone, unable to see their friends and family, or they may have even lost loved ones during this year leaving them alone or lonely for the first time. The thought of someone having a horrible time over Christmas hurts my heart, even more so if it’s simply because they are lonely. No-one should feel like that at anytime but right now we all have the opportunity to help others feel that same nostalgia, comfort and joy that we will hopefully be feeling.
For me personally, I will be making sure to donate to some charities. I like to donate to Lupus and MS charities as these are close to my heart, but this year I will also be donating to Mind as mental health has always been something I have managed personally, but this year has shown me a whole new level of mental health challenges and anything we can do to support those charities helping others through mental health issues should be at the top of the list.
I will also be participating in Christmas jumper day as I do every year and thoroughly look forward to it! One of the projects I’m working on this Christmas involves the sale of a product, therefore a certain amount of money from this will also be donated, meaning those purchasing will be able to give too.
During lockdown me and my boyfriend left notes with our elderly neighbours to see if they wanted anything from the shops etc and left them small packages with the essentials that were hard to buy so we will be doing the same before Christmas too. These small gestures can make the biggest difference to others so never think that any kindness is too small or will go unnoticed because these gestures could be the thing that makes someones day or even makes their Christmas.
Charity cards are probably one of the most accessible ways for most people to give to charity at Christmas as all you have to do is purchase cards from this section. Charity cards are available everywhere, in supermarkets, online and on the high street so you’ll be able to pick them up however you like to shop.
Remember you can always purchase from charities directly too, so if there’s a charity very close to your heart you can try logging onto their website and seeing what cards or gifts they offer.
Donate to a Charity
I know some people like to donate to a charity instead of buying cards which is lovely, especially for those who don’t want to send cards anyway and to be honest when you tally up the cost of cards and postage, that can be a pretty hefty chunk of money that a charity would appreciate massively.
If you want to do both or if you have some spare cash (we aren’t going to be going out as much as normal or spending money as frivolously this year, therefore may find ourselves with a tenner to spare), so making a donation is a kind and generous thing to do.
Christmas Jumper Day
Christmas Jumper Day is on the 11th December this year so put it in your diary and dig out your Christmas jumpers! Save The Children raise money by asking you to donate just £2 for wearing your Christmas jumper and getting on board with the festivities. Most schools and businesses will sign up for Christmas Jumper Day so typically it’s super easy to get involved, but with most working from home and some without regular work or a place of work such as self employed, it’s easy to participate in Christmas Jumper Day but forget the donating part!
If you work for a company or you own a business or are self employed, don’t forget to sign up to make sure that Save The Children aren’t forgotten when donning your most gourdy jumper on your Zoom call this year.
Operation Christmas Child
I love Operation Christmas Child. Putting a box together for a child feels much more intimate and far more personal than some other ways of giving, which makes me feel connected and invested in what I’m doing and how and what I’m giving. You can choose whether you want to gift to a boy or girl and what age group you want to gift to. There are some rules and restrictions about what you can give for safety and transit, but otherwise you can include teddy bears, small toys, some toiletries and sanitary items and things like stationary and notebooks. Essentially anything you think a child would love to open at Christmas.
You can include a card too and last year I wrote a card and popped in a polaroid of me and my boyfriend as they outline that children love to see who the present is from. I love the idea that the child can see who has gifted the box to them and that they have a Christmas card as it could potentially be the only one they receive.
You can use a shoebox or purchase one from the website and there are also listed drop off zones and drop off times. Double check your post code to make sure you know when the deadline is so you don’t miss it and then get shopping! It’s so much fun and really does feel like such a lovely thing to do for someone.
I’ve actually tried to help in a soup kitchen for a couple of Christmas’s before and fortunately they have been too busy and oversubscribed with volunteers which is great news for them of course, however this is when I was closer to London whereas now I’ve moved back to Bristol I will need to investigate if there are places that need help here.
You can search locally and in smaller areas there will likely be lots of soup kitchens and homeless charities that need a lot of support during this time. The best thing to do is search for soup kitchens and your local areas should appear, otherwise you can search your postcode in the resources below and it should tell you your nearest centres.
Helping your Community
Reaching out within your local community should be high on your list if you’re looking to make a difference to others this Christmas. They say charity starts at home and where better to begin than your local area and neighbours. You can do simple things like pop a note through the houses of those on your street or if you know of any elderly neighbours to let them know you can help with things such as shopping or buying them gifts. Some elderly people may not be able to get to the shops and not be able to shop online so may need help to order presents, cards or food.
Even simple household items like toilet roll, tissues, meals and festive treats might make someones Christmas. If you have a community centre or local charities, they should be able to let you know of those in need or planned events that you can attend or help organise.
I just want to round this off by saying that I think giving back at anytime of the year is hugely important and something that everyone should do if they can, however I want to stress that if you aren’t in a position to give your time or money there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this and there’s always other times of the year to give and there’s always next Christmas.
We can’t all give all the time and looking after yourself, your finances, your mental health and wellbeing and even a physical illness should be your top priority during times like this. If you feel that you need help and want to sign up to be on the receiving end of charitable giving, let someone know and investigate places where you can get some help this Christmas.
I hope everyone has an amazing Christmas and that you can soak up the festivities after a really tough and long year. Don’t forget that Christmas is about more than just how much money you have to spend on people, or what presents you receive and if you can’t be with your family or friends this year there are plenty of simple ways to make each other feel special and have an unforgettable day.
I’m not normally one for quotes but this one resonated with me on an almost daily basis this year for obvious reasons and I’m sure it will have done for you too, but it’s so important to remember.
“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
Lots of Love xx