Christmas is a time for giving so if you can afford it, help to make the festive season a little brighter for those in need.

Many large shopping centres now invite people to donate a new gift by handing it in a collection point or placing it around the tree.  Often, the collections are on behalf of children’s charities so you need to say on a gift tag whether it’s for a boy or girl and the age range that it’s suited to.

The Salvation Army and shelters for the homeless also welcome gifts or cash donations to help in their work so be generous if you can. (If you can’t, then remember it’s the thought that counts and even a small gift will be appreciated.)

And of course, giving doesn’t always mean spending money.   An elderly or lonely neighbour might appreciate the chance to have a cuppa and a chat  – or someone to carry their shopping home.

And while we’re all rushing around buying last minute gifts, we should remember that Christmas can be one of the saddest times of year for those who have lost someone close to them and giving them a little of your time is probably the most welcome gift of all.

Christmas is also a time for giving thanks and provides the opportunity to give something back to our wonderful planet.  Feed the birds, donate some tinned food to an animal refuge, get the children involved in a litter pick or take them to a local farm to buy fresh produce like eggs and meat.

Make sure that children know about global warming and encourage them to get involved in recycling. I try to get my eight-year-old to think about the 3 Rs.  Last Christmas she wrapped up two of her favourite items and presented them to me as gifts so hopefully the message is getting through!  (The fact that I have no use whatsoever for a pink pony with swirling blue tail and diamond eyes or a see-through cosmetics box – aka a transparent briefcase -is quite beyond the point.)  And I refuse to believe her father’s theory that she was just trying to hang onto her pocket money 🙂

Over the holidays, think about the power you’re using and try to find a way to save at least 10 per cent of the gas or electricity you normally use over Christmas.

And most important of all – don’t be lonely this Christmas. If you don’t have friends or family living close, then do yourself and the needy a favour.  Volunteer to visit elderly or sick people who need some company, help out at a shelter or offer to help in a community centre or charity shop.

Notice boards in libraries, doctors surgeries and community centres are all great places to start looking for ways to get involved in something worthwhile.

Have a great Christmas – and since the young people in our house are desperate for some of the white stuff, this seemed a perfect way to sign off:




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