Well, what a year 2020 has been – it’s definitely been a tough one for everyone.
However, I’m hoping that, amongst the suffering, some good will come out of what we’ve been through, and that people will be kinder to each other.
It’s been heartwarming to see communities pull together to support each other through difficult times.
I’ve also felt a renewed appreciation for everything NHS staff and other essential workers do for us – and also for the vital role charities play.
Just as this year has been different, this Christmas is also set to be like no other.
And I don’t just mean due to potential Covid-19 restrictions.
I think many people’s priorities will change, with an increased emphasis on family, friends, and helping others.
People have always needed extra support at Christmas, whether that’s because they’re lonely, struggling to make ends meet, or suffering from mental ill-health – and this year they need our help more than ever.
If you’re feeling the need to give something back, there are lots of ways you can help others this Christmas.
In fact, there are so many options it can be tricky to decide which worthy cause to support.
First of all, decide if you want to donate money to charity (or food, presents, unwanted items for resale, etc) or if you want to give your time as a volunteer.
It doesn’t matter which you choose as it all makes a difference, so do what suits you best.
If you would like to donate time and decide to volunteer, be realistic about what you can offer and set boundaries.
Don’t be afraid to try it and see – if it isn’t working for you, you don’t have to continue.
Also, remember volunteering doesn’t have to be formal.
You could help a neighbour with shopping or have a socially distanced chat with them on their doorstep.
Most of all, remember to be kind to yourself this Christmas – you deserve it more than ever.
Here are my ideas for spreading goodwill to all men, women, and children this Christmas:
Give the gift of your time
Volunteering is a great way to get involved in your community and make a difference.
If you’re looking for a job or want to change your career, the experience can also look great on your CV and help you stand out from other applicants.
My top tip is to find volunteer opportunities that fit your schedule and interests.
Choosing to volunteer for a cause you feel passionate about increases the chances of you enjoying it and wanting to continue!
Also, being realistic about how much time you can give can ensure you don’t overcommit yourself.
Give gifts that help others
If you want to send a present that really means something, consider giving a charity gift.
Good places to start are Oxfam, Friends of the Earth, and WWF UK – simply choose a cause that you and your gift recipient really care about.
Alternatively, if you buy gifts from Amazon, make sure you use the Amazon Smile website and they’ll make a donation to a charity of your choice for most purchases.
Help someone escape abuse
Since lockdown began, the Refuge National Domestic Abuse Helpline has never been busier.
As a result, they urgently need funds to support the life-saving service and are appealing for donations.
Refuge supports more than 6,000 people each day, helping them rebuild their lives and overcome many different forms of violence and abuse.
You can find out more about their work and donate via their website.
Give to a food bank
As Covid-19 continues to cause cuts in income and job losses, Trussell Trust foodbanks are expecting to hand out six emergency food parcels every minute between October and December 2020.
You can help by volunteering, fundraising, or making a donation of food or money.
Find out more on the Trussell Trust website.
Support those experiencing homelessness
Donate to your local homeless charity, or give £28.22 and pay for a Crisis Christmas.
This will help the Crisis charity give someone who is homeless a place to stay, friendship, and support from volunteers as well as essential food and festive treats.
They’ll also provide access to health and wellbeing programmes and advice on housing, employment, and benefits.
Random acts of kindness
It’s easy to become harassed and irritable when we’re busy preparing for Christmas.
But you can help the world become a better place – and improve your own mood – with simple acts of kindness.
You could offer to pick up groceries for an elderly or vulnerable neighbour, call someone you know will be alone this Christmas, or simply be extra polite to shop assistants or people you see in the street (from a distance!).
It costs nothing but will make a positive difference to both yourself and those around you.
Enjoy an eco-friendly Christmas
And finally, it’s not just people you can help this Christmas – you can also help the planet.
An extra 30% of rubbish is created during the festive period, including 54 million platefuls of food.
Plus we chuck out a massive 227,000 miles of wrapping paper every year!
Fortunately, there are simple things we can do to help lower our impact on the environment.
Don’t buy more food than you need, and make sure you buy cards and wrapping paper which can be recycled – anything with foil or glitter sadly can’t go in the recycling bin.
It’s also important to remove all sellotape, ribbons, glitter, and bows from cards and wrapping when you recycle your festive waste.
Get in touch and let me know how you’re helping others this Christmas!