Sometimes at Christmas time we get so caught up in buying presents, decorating the house and stocking up on festive foods that the holiday becomes a stressful and indulgent event. This struck me particularly this year when I read news reports about people’s anger at websites not delivering gifts on time and stores opening on Christmas day to get the sales started early.
It’s all just getting a bit too commercial for my liking. That’s why I’ve decided for this blog post to think of some ideas for charitable things to do at Christmas. I’m certainly going to try to do a couple of them and I hope they inspire you in a similar way.
Help the homeless
Many people aren’t keen on giving money to homeless people in the street, but a simple way that you can help this Christmas is by donating toiletries or clothes to your local homeless shelter. A lot of shelters desperately need things like this and for a minimal cost you’ll be making a real difference. Alternatively, if you have a few hours spare over the Christmas period, why not offer to help out at your local soup kitchen? Instead of vegging in front of the TV eating mince pies, it will get you out of the house and do some good at the same time!
Ask for charitable gifts
I don’t know about you but every year I end up with several presents that I know I’m never going to use and which often end up getting taken to the charity shop. This year I’ve asked friends and family to either make a donation to charity instead of buying me a gift, or to get me a charity gift like mosquito nets or a food basket for an impoverished family. You might want to consider doing this for your own friends and family – you could even choose appropriate types of gift for them. For example, if a friend is a teacher, you could buy them the gift of a place for a child in school, whilst a nurse or doctor friend might appreciate a gift of medical supplies for a family in a disaster zone. It gives you the chance to be a little bit creative.
Think about the environment
Christmas these days is all about rampant commercialism, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way! Instead of buying your Christmas food at the local supermarket, where your food may have travelled for miles to get there, causing a big carbon footprint, why not be a bit more eco-friendly and support local businesses such as your greengrocer, health food shop, or farm shop? As an added note, foods that have been grown locally will be better for you as they will be more ripe and fresh. And be sure to think of the planet by recycling your Christmas cards and wrapping paper. There are often schemes whereby used stamps can be collected and used by charities to raise money.
Think of your neighbours
Not everyone has a family or friends to spend Christmas with, meaning that it can be a lonely time for some people. If you have elderly neighbours who live alone, why not show them that you are thinking of them by sending them a Christmas card or giving them a small gift of a mince pie or two? If you have some spare time you could even offer to pop in for a chat. It won’t cost you anything but could mean the world to a lonely, elderly neighbour.
If you have any further suggestions for charitable things to do at Christmas then why not add your comments here? I’d love to hear your suggestions. Merry Christmas!
About the author: Liz Parry is a writer specialising in holistic health and wellbeing, personal development and spirituality. Follow her on Twitter.
First published in December 2012; updated November 2021