Ways to give back this Christmas

You’ve wiped away the Halloween cobwebs, which can only mean one thing:

It’s now the Christmas count down.

For those of you dreading the mere thought of wailing families, melt-downs (and that’s not just the brandy butter), or over populated shopping centres, consider those who don’t even have a choice.

Instead of spending hours deliberating, worrying about who is going to complain first, you can push those superficial thoughts aside for a moment and consider giving on a more ethical, and in a more charitable fashion instead.  Here’s how.

1. Online shopping

There are a number of websites that allow you to donate as you spend.  So for each time you purchase something online, a donation is given to your chosen charity.  Such websites include: giveasyoulive.com or easyfundraising.org.uk

2. Letters from Santa

Yes, for the purpose of this exercise, Santa does exist.   You can support the NSPCC by donating £5 in exchange for a personalised letter from Father Christmas to a child you know, delivered by ‘reindeer mail’.   These really are fun and so far (and my kids are coming up to ten years old) they are still very convincing.  Visit: www.nspcc.org.uk/santa or call 0845 839 9304.

3. Volunteering

There are many people who will be alone this Christmas; completely alone.  Charities such as Crisis and Help the Aged would welcome volunteers to help out with catering, hairdressing or evening befriending at this time of year.

4. Charity cards and gifts

Most charities will have a shop full of great products and certainly Christmas cards.  The likes of the RSPB, the Woodland Trust and the RNIB are a few of my favourites.  But surf the net and find your favourite charities website.  It certainly beats traipsing the hectic shopping streets and supports good causes too.

5. Donate to food banks

Not just for Christmas but a good way to give back at this time of the year, is to provide festive foods such as selection boxes, mince pies and crisps.  Women’s toiletries, nappies and sanitary products are often overlooked yet are always on the wanted list.

6. Give blood

Did you know that one in five donors miss their appointments over the festive period yet blood is always needed.  It’s not painful (well a little nip on the skin like a blood test), you’re given plenty of care, get to rest and daydream for a bit and are given a cup of tea and biscuits until you feel ready to head back to your everyday life.  Meanwhile you are helping to save a life.  Visit: blood.co.uk to find your nearest donation station.

7. Pack a shoebox

Why not make a child’s Christmas extra special with a pre-packed shoe box full of items that to them would mean so much?  Samaritan’s Purse are collecting again this year.  To find your nearest drop off station: Drop Off Point 

So, don’t feel that the Christmas mayhem is all that awaits you.   The gift of giving is a great one.