How to give back this Christmas

Alice Dawson gives her own alternative to a service of nine lessons and carols. The lesson? How to be charitable this festive season...

Alice Dawson
11th December 2017
Image: Wikimedia commons

This year, take a minute during the frenzy of shopping, planning and celebrating Christmas, to think of others. What could you do to help out those less fortunate? Here are some easy tips for aiding charities and those in need this Christmas, which feels just as good, or maybe even better than, what you receive on Christmas day:

Do your Christmas shopping at charity shops

Here is a great way to save money, find hidden treasures, and give to charity. This year my family have decided to only buy each other gifts from charity shops as my sister and I are both students and can’t afford much more, but it also helps reduce our consumerist waste! So far I have found designer clothes, great CDs and DVDs, and even a first addition Harry Potter book! In Newcastle, the best I’ve found are The British Red Cross, The British Heart Foundation, and (if you fancy a day trip to Durham) there is an excellent Oxfam bookshop.

Receive or give the gift of giving

Sponsor a child, adopt a gorilla- help someone this Christmas. One of your Christmas gifts could help to save a species or educate a child. What more could you ask for in a gift? You might even receive updates every few months, so it’s even an opportunity to learn and maybe find a new passion.

Donate gifts to charities

Roughly 70,000 children in the UK are cared for by the local authorities, many of whom would not receive any gifts at Christmas without donations. Through charities such as The Samaritans and Children in Care you can pick and donate a gift to orphaned children in the UK.

Throw it back to a Christmas shoebox

We all did it. We all loved it. So why not wrap another shoebox, fill it with some goodies, and give someone a gift this Christmas. If you fancy returning to this childhood treat find ‘Operation Christmas Child’ to ensure kids in underdeveloped countries will receive something to make their Christmas special.

Give unwanted gifts away

We all have that distant family member who buys you that hideous jumper that you’ll never wear or that piggy bank that you’re too poor to fill. If you do, don’t just leave it in the back of your cupboard, donate it to a charity shop; you never know, someone with a quirky taste might love it, buy it, and subsequently give to charity.

Buy well-sourced, ethical food products for your big Christmas meal

Unfortunately, we are living in a world threatened by global warming, and unfortunately 51% of that coms from the over-farming in the meat industry, so at Christmas when roughly 10 million turkeys are consumed, it is safe to say that the problem is heightened. Of course I’m not suggesting to banish meat from your banquet, but try to ensure that your meat products are farmed ethically, and you could even try to cut down on meat throughout the rest of December to make the Christmas meal even more of a treat.

Fill a belly, not a fridge

Every year our fridges are full before, during and after Christmas day year after a massive Christmas and Boxing Day dinner my family fridge was bursting with leftovers. Knowing that we would never get through all the turkey, pigs in blankets, stuffing, potatoes etc, I made a dozen sandwiches and took them with me into central London and handed them out to the many homeless I met throughout my day. This an easy and resourceful way of using your food, without putting on too much extra weight over the period of indulgence!

Donate tins, cans, pasta, rice etc. to food banks

Many supermarkets are asking their customers to buy just one more small item on their shop to help towards meals for those who can’t provide their own in the holiday season.

Volunteer at a homeless centre

An excellent charity for this is Crisis, with volunteer stations throughout the country (including in Newcastle) where you can help in a variety of ways: from catering, education, creativity, wellbeing, health and many more. It is an opportunity to meet and learn from a multitude of people, and it would also be a great thing for your CV!

There are always ways to give back, especially at Christmas. Remember to feel grateful for everything you have, and help out peopole who aren’t as lucky!

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