Christmas is well-and-truly on its way, and most of us are swept up in the festivities of it all. Buying gifts for loved ones, decorating the tree and stringing up lights, making lists of who may be coming for dinner and heading to the shops to buy food. I love Christmas, I love how it brings everyone together and most of all (which I’m sure is no surprise to anyone) I love the food and drink!
It’s sometimes incredibly easy to get caught up in our own worlds and planning our own parties and Christmas Days – I know I’m guilty of that and I’m sure you are too. But in the season of giving, there are many little ways we can spread joy to those around us, both in our immediate and wider circles.
Don’t forget to give thanks for what we have around us, and the people we have to share it with. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you have a roof over your head and food on your plate, and people to share the holidays with. We take those things for granted every day, but not everyone has that luxury. Write down the things you’re thankful for and encourage others to do the same – it really makes you think about how lucky you are.
Keep it local.
A lot of towns and villages do Christmas festivity evenings which are a lot of fun to go to, and it’s always nice to support your local businesses by buying their products. We all know corporate giants are stamping out independent companies, so try and do your bit to help keep them going. There are a few lovely local shops I frequent: Rhubarb and Roses in Bedale and Issima in Boroughbridge.
Don’t forget the pets!
They may not know that it’s anything more than just another day, but it’s heartwarming watching your cat or dog playing with a new toy. Christmas jumpers for dogs are a fun idea, plus you can get all sorts of festive treats for them that are fun and healthy to give on Christmas day. If you have a surplus of pet food, try donating it to local rescues and shelters along with old towels and blankets. Our dog Logan will be having a quiet Christmas following a fairly serious leg injury, but with a homemade, doggy-friendly Christmas dinner and a few extra toys, I’m sure we can make his day special too.
Remember: not everyone celebrates Christmas.
This was brought to my attention again recently and I think it’s important to address: not everyone does enjoy Christmas. It can be a very difficult period for a lot of people, for many, many reasons, or they may choose not to celebrate at all due to personal reasons. If someone is staying out of the festivities, include them where possible and when they’re comfortable with it, and make an effort not to shame or pressure them. Everyone is different.
Charity begins at home.
I always try to give more than I get during December. Have a clear out and donate anything you don’t want or need to charity shops in time for Christmas so that others can benefit from the things you no longer use. Carry loose change in your purse or pocket to drop into the charity containers in shops or to give to the Big Issue guys. If you’re able, set up a monthly contribution to a cause close to your heart or make a one-off donation. Speak to your neighbours, particularly those who are elderly, vulnerable or alone and take them round Christmas treats and a card. It’s these little things that can mount up to make a big difference.
Here are a few charities running Christmas campaigns that you can donate to today:
- Explore the #RefugeAdventCalendar and help protect vulnerable women and children who have suffered domestic abuse.
- Help Shelter to make sure being homeless never becomes a Christmas tradition.
- Give the gift of listening and help the Samaritans so that they can continue to provide a shoulder to lean on for those going through hardships.
Do It Yourself!
Spend time trying new recipes. Make DIY tree decorations or pet treats. This is a wonderful way to spend time with your significant other, your friends or your children and to build memories. Plus it saves money and you can be left with some really great things to keep. There are some fantastic blogs out there which provide ideas for crafts and recipes. Check out my lovely friend Dana’s blog Killing Thyme for some truly fantastic pescatarian recipes.
So that’s it! That’s my little list of ways we can spread joy to those around us during the holiday season. If you celebrate, then Happy Holidays! If you don’t, happy December and I hope you’re having a great one!