Christmas is not ALL about unwrapping presents on Christmas morning. It’s a time when we can help others in our local and global communities. Thinking outside our own situation will not only support and spread kindness, it can make you feel pretty happy too. There are so many ways we can help others and many don’t cost a cent…
Helping Others Less Mobile
What might be a small gesture from you; may be an enormous help to someone else. Assisting less mobile neighbours or friends is a brilliant way to share the spirit of giving. Elderly folks can really struggle with so many pre-Christmas tasks; it’s staggering how many Christmas-related activities involve lifting bulky items, and require a steady foot. Why not offer to help someone string up Christmas lights or climb a ladder for them to place their decorations around the tree. Offer to bring a neighbour’s Christmas tree into their home, or help wrap presents (which can be tricky for those with poor eyesight and stiff joints). If you’re mowing your lawn or nature strip, why not do your neighbours too? Kindness makes the world go around and we often don’t realise all the little ways we can help to lighten someone’s load.
Assisting Busy Mums
It’s no secret; the pre-Christmas rush can elevate stress levels. A great gift for a busy mum is a couple of hours of child minding. It can be tricky for parents to make children’s purchases when the kids are ‘right there’ and if a mother can avoid taking a tired reluctant child to a busy shopping centre in the heat of summer, appreciation is guaranteed! When parents move to the next phase of raising older children, it can be easy (and forgivable!) to forget the logistics that accompanies life with a baby, multiple children or spirited toddlers. Becoming a grandparent is no different; sometimes we can ‘forget’ that simple things can be difficult. Why not offer to iron a load of clothes or bring in a load of washing. It’s one less job around the home; and one less job is a heaven-sent supportive gift. Sometimes the offer of a cuppa, an open ear and a little of your time can make all the difference!
Struggling Friends And Relatives
While Christmas is a happy time for so many; it can also conjure up emotions for others. If you have a friend or family member that needs support, a small gesture can make all the difference to a day. A kind text message, a quick call, or an offer to help with an extra school drop off or pick up is all it takes. If you’re making an easy one-pot meal, like lasagne or family pie, make an extra meal and drop it over. A batch of cupcakes or a cake is inexpensive and a practical gift – what’s more you can involve your children, doubling as a great life lesson on how to lend support and care to others. Furthermore, handmade cards from your children are thoughtful, don’t cost a thing and are fun to make. If you’re very close to someone, why not makeover one of their cupboards or help them tidy a room to create a fresh and usable new space. However small the task, the sentiment of giving is there and will undoubtedly be appreciated.
There are a number of charities, both near and far that need additional support at Christmas. Many charities have wrapping paper, cards and gifts available to purchase with proceeds distributed back to charity. Here at Howards, we support the Bear Cottage Initiative. Bear Cottage is a medically supported home away from home, providing respite for children with terminal illnesses and support for their families. Each Christmas, we spread a little extra cheer by making one gorgeous product available to our customers in-store and online; this year it’s a gorgeous candle, with all proceeds going to Bear Cottage. Great as a stocking filler or gift for a friend or relative, these sorts of presents will support charities and simultaneously spread goodwill.
Kindness to Strangers
Random acts of kindness offered to people we’ve never met before will make everyone feel great. Why not leave your trolley coin for the next person with a parting “Happy Christmas”. Share more smiles and less frowns. Leave a little tip in cafes or food outlets, or place your small change in the charity box positioned on most food outlet or petrol station sales counters. Pay a stranger a compliment; it will make their day, or simply hold a door open for someone! It’s amazing the way little acts of kindness can remind us all that the world is a good place. It’s the spirit of Christmas and it really doesn’t take a lot of effort.
Resetting Children’s Expectations
It mainly falls to parents to help kids become kind and generous members of our community and what better time to start than the lead up to Christmas. Do your kids think Christmas is all about what they’re getting on Christmas morning? They’re not alone! Work together as a family to press the reset button on those expectations and have fun while you’re doing it. Get the kids to come up with brilliant ‘spirit of Christmas ideas’, you might be surprised and they’ll want to get more involved if they feel they own the idea. Consider ideas such as: helping more around the house, cleaning their rooms, washing the family car or finding three toys they feel happy to give away to a child less fortunate. Get your kids to introduce themselves to a child at school who plays alone or keep their eye out for those being bullied in the class. Get your kids to make ‘Christmas vouchers’ for family members redeemable for a car wash, back scratch, garden weeding or little chores you’re your children can action.
So many members of our community work during the nights, on Christmas Day or on other public holidays; why not show support to these tireless workers? Hand out little notes of appreciation if you require their services or surprise them with a tiny gift. A pretty Christmas bauble in cellophane, homemade biscuits or chocolates work well in the lead up to Christmas, especially when it’s unexpected! Don’t forget a little note for your teacher or a little treat for them as well. Get the kids to paint and decorate pinecones with glitter as mini-Christmas trees or home made Christmas cards. Candy canes are a thoughtful gift that, with a single box, can reach so many people. A small gesture will lift the spirits of those people working in physically or mentally demanding work; and what’s more, it’s a great example to set to your own children.