Studies show we’ll spend more than £19 billion on presents, cook more than 2 million turkeys and eat more than 74 million mince pies in the UK this festive season, which is a truly staggering amount. But Christmas doesn’t have to just be a frenzy of shopping, eating and drinking - for many it also sparks the desire to give back. If you’d like to contribute to the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ why not take a look at one of our ideas below...
Volunteer with elderly people
If you find yourself at a bit of a loose end on Christmas Day, Community Christmas requires volunteers. Have a read here. They’d love to hear from anyone who can offer companionship to older people on Christmas Day, whether that involves a full Christmas lunch or a cup of tea.
Give a Christmas dinner
For just a tenner the charity Centrepoint will supply a homeless young person with a hot, festive meal to share with others in their service. ‘Growing up I didn't really celebrate Christmas,’ says Amy, a Centrepoint young person. ‘But one thing I miss from my childhood is dinner time before mum left - nobody would leave the table until there was nothing to talk about.’
Embrace the Secret Santa
If you begrudge spending a tenner on a load of tat for a mate in the standard Secret Santa, why not mix things up this year? Instead, donate through Linkey (a non-profit social enterprise run by volunteers) - they create gift packs for rough sleepers and homeless shelters. The pack (£12) includes essential items such as hats, gloves, socks, handwarmers and a festive chocolate. You can even leave a note at the checkout to accompany your gift.
Pop along to Choose Love, the world’s first shop where you can buy presents for refugees. Every single purchase from the shop (which is based in Fouberts Place, Carnaby) goes towards a similar item for a refugee, delivered via one of the 80+ projects Help Refugees support across the world. They also offer gift cards that you can purchase on behalf of someone else. Click here for more info.
The Maypole Project, which provides a lifeline of support for children with complex and life-threatening illnesses and their whole family, are looking for people to collect money for them in both Greenwich and Bromley over the Christmas period. A few hours of your time really will make such a difference.
Cook some food
The Whitechapel Mission receives as many as 300 visitors a day during December, and it needs a willing group of volunteers to provide for all these guests. You'll be providing not only warm food, but a touch of warmth in the lives of those less fortunate — truly in the spirit of Christmas. Have a look here.
Visit @goldsmithsvolunteering for more info on volunteering opportunities at Goldsmiths.