Ways you can support others during the holidays
There are endless reasons why people might not enjoy the holidays. From money woes to unemployment and from losing a loved one to fertility problems. Christmas and the festive period can magnify all the problems that you deal with throughout the year and make them seem a million times worse, as you’re forced to face loved ones, or perhaps spend it alone.
If you’re fortunate enough to be looking forward to some time spent with family and friends, there are some easy ways that you can support other people in need, whether that’s personally or through a charity. Little acts of kindness make you feel good as well as help out the person or organization so here are some ways you can make a difference this Christmas.
Ways to be thoughtful
From friends and family to colleagues, there are lots of ways you can be thoughtful at Christmas time.
Taking into account other people’s feelings is the most important part of caring for others. If you’re empathetic and understand that everyone experiences different feelings, especially at this time of year, then you’ll already be halfway there to helping someone.
Listen to what people have got to say and try and understand why they’re feeling like they do. Sometimes people just want someone to talk to.
If you know someone who is lonely or struggles with their mental health, then make the effort to reach out to them around Christmas time. Even just calling them up for a coffee or sending them a note to let you know you’re thinking about them could make them feel less alone.
Don’t just assume that everyone loves Christmas. If a friend doesn’t seem keen on joining in with the festivities, don’t pressure them. Try and understand that everyone deals with the holiday season differently.
Giving back at Christmas
There’s nothing wrong with treating your loved ones at Christmas (let’s face it, who doesn’t love a scented candle), but this year, try and think about other ways to give back. From volunteering your time at local charities to donating presents on behalf of loved ones, think outside the gift-wrapped box this Christmas when it comes to giving.
In the UK, you can donate to the brilliant Beauty Banks charity on behalf of someone else. A donation of £10 will provide someone affected by hygiene poverty with enough personal care and hygiene products to keep clean for two months. A donation of £25 will give a family of four enough products to stay clean for two months and a gift of £50 will provide products for a family of four for four months.
Also in the UK, you can donate new, unwrapped toys and gifts to children who might not otherwise receive a gift via the Salvation Army Christmas present appeal. They need gifts for all age groups from 0-16.
If you’d rather volunteer your time this Christmas, you could look into helping out with the Crisis at Christmas Volunteering. The homeless charity aims to ‘give warmth, love and companionship to people experiencing homelessness’ which might just be the best gift of all.
All over the world, there are women and children fleeing domestic abuse, often assisted by Refuge. Via their Christmas gift campaign, you can buy a Christmas gift for women and children escaping domestic violence who have often left with just the clothes on their backs.
Not everyone will have an abundant feast on Christmas day that leaves them so full they swear not to eat until January. So instead of getting an advent calendar for everyone in the family, you could each donate a food item to a Trussel Trust food bank for every day of December. Save it up throughout the month and then hand it over at your local food bank in time for Christmas.
If you can’t resist buying presents at Christmas, choose a gift that gives back. From a voucher that puts a girl through school from Oxfam Unwrapped to a temporary home from Shelterbox, lots of charities and organizations offer this service now.
If you really can’t part with the idea of a traditional gift, why not get a second hand one? Head to your local charity shop and hunt for Christmas presents with a conscience.
If you know your neighbour works shifts and lives alone, or you have a friend who struggles at Christmas, check in on them. A random act of kindness like popping around with a mince pie or popping something in the letterbox takes little effort from you but can mean so much to them.
Don’t underestimate the power of kindness
It might not seem like you’re doing much, but the smallest things can make all the difference, especially at Christmas. So this festive season, commit to checking in on loved ones, buying gifts responsibly and even volunteering some of your time. We promise you’ll have a better Christmas yourself because of it.