We all love a chocolate, beauty or even a cereal advent calendar, but this year I wanted to introduce you to my alternative Christmas Advent – 24 days of giving, where I share a different charity for you to donate to, buy gifts for your loved ones, or help a person or animal in need this festive season. Tis the season of goodwill and I thought it would be nice to share some fantastic causes each day until Christmas day, I’m not suggesting you do each one, give what you can, but maybe you might find a charity gift instead of the usual stocking fillers you give your family and friends.
Kicking off Day 1 of my alternative Christmas Advent is the Hillside Animal Sanctuary, in Norwich, which has launched a ‘Buy a Gift of Hay’ campaign this Christmas to help feed the 1750 rescued horses, ponies and donkeys, plus the 300 rescued cows, 600 sheep and goats, and 200 pigs which it currently houses that it has saved from the farming industry.
Gift a hay bale for £4, or why not adopt a rescue animal from Rosemary the rabbit to Candy Floss the Highland Cow or donkies Dancer and Prancer for £10 a year. These would make great stocking fillers.
December 2, I have the amazing Unicef for you. This is an organisation that does so much around the world, and they have an incredible selection of life-changing supplies that you can contribute to so that they can deliver to children and communities across the globe. From buying winter clothing for a Syrian child for £35 to protecting 100 children from Polio for £14.50, or how about providing malaria medicine for a child for £23.50, or spend £18 and gift quality footballs for children to play, exercise, and have fun with.
It’s so easy, select your life-saving gift, and then dedicate your gift to a friend or loved-one with a personalised gift card or eGreeting, and then Unicef delivers your incredible gift. Easy!!!
December 3, think about giving to a food bank, this year as The Trussell Trust, the largest food bank provider in the UK, is expecting its ”busiest Christmas ever”. There are many ways you can help, you can find your local food bank and donate directly, think about including festive food, such as mince pies, chocolates and snacks, as well as everyday food such as cereals, tinned fruit and vegetables, and rice, and even toiletries, see this link for help on what to include in a food parcel. Maybe also consider including toys for young children as an extra treat. Don’t have time to put a parcel together, don’t worry, why not just donate directly to The Trussell Trust’s Christmas appeal – give as much as you can.
Behind the imaginary December 4th window is the gorgeous puppies from Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, who you can sponsor with monthly payments of either £3, £5 or £10. For £3, your loved one will receive a welcome pack, Pupdates on your chosen puppy’s training, and more stories in the Puppy Pen blog, while £5, adds a cuddly toy dog in a smart Hearing Dogs jacket, and a notepad, and £10 a month means you’ll also receive a beautiful framed photo of your puppy.
The hardest decision will be choosing which puppy – meet Cookie, a brown and white Cocker Spaniel who likes taking on big challenges such as sofas, the adorable Juno, a Cockapoo who just loves to play tug-of-war, and Hunter, a black Labrador who loves sunshine. Seriously, all three are so cute. Once trained these puppies will go on to help their deaf owner with sounds they would otherwise miss, such as the doorbell, alarm clock and even danger signals like the fire alarm – these hearing dogs really do make a huge difference in deaf people’s lives.
For today’s advent calendar, December 5, its all about making a difference to the lives of homeless young people this Christmas by supporting the incredible work that Centrepoint do. There are lots of ways you can help, buy a homeless young person a Christmas dinner for £10, provide a Christmas treat for £15, spend £18 buying a Christmas jumper to provide warmth and comfort, or a safe, comfy bed for the night for £35. There are so many gift options, for a full list visit the Centrepoint website, and for each gift you can send a personalised posted card or eCard.
Can you believe we are already six days into December, madness right, it will be Christmas Day in no time, but before then I still have a lot more incredible charities to highlight. December 6 is dedicated to the amazing work of the RSPCA, the largest animal welfare charity in the UK, and over the festive period between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day it costs, on average, £3.65 to feed each animal in its care, so your donation will really help. There are so many ways to support this charity, from donating £6 to pay for a cat to receive a bed and breakfast for the night to feeding one of its donkeys for a month for £10, or why not help nurse a dog back to health by paying £20 for a weeks worth of the specialised food needed to help an underweight dog get back to healthy weight to and find a new home. The charity also sells Christmas cards, stocking fillers, puzzles, diaries, hampers, and chocolates, as well as gifts for your furry friends.
For December 7, I’ve selected Oxfam and its selection of gifts that change lives, where you can help one of the charities many projects around the world such as providing safe water for 10 people for £10 or why not give a goat to help a family in poverty to earn a better living from £26. Other amazing gifts include educating a child for £19, a pile of poo to fertilise crops for £10, buy a pig for £23 or why not opt for something closer to home with a £25 donate to support its UK poverty projects. You can personalise all gifts as well as add some little extras such as chocolates.
On the 8th day of Christmas, my true love said to me, please help protect endangered species. OK, not quite, but today’s charity is the WWF and in my head, I thought that sounded cute. This is one of my favourite charities that I love to support and they are so great for gifts at any time of the year, but especially Christmas, as you can adopt one of a range of animals, including my favourites elephants, from £3, £5 or £10 a month, and the recipient will receive updates on the chosen animal, plus a cuddly toy. So really you can go wrong, you get to give a cute toy, plus you get to help save an animal. The only thing is choosing which animal to go for – from big cats to pandas, rhinos, gorillas or even polar bears.
December 9, not many Saturday’s left until Christmas and if you are still looking for an amazing gift you need to check out these cute slippers from FipFlop, as 20% for every pair of its House slippers goes to support Habit for Humanity, an incredible charity that aims to help eliminate housing poverty worldwide. The slippers are not only super cute, just look at that pompom, they come in charcoal with purple pom poms or timberwolf with red pom poms, or there is a limited edition black ‘Love’ ones, and don’t they look so cosy – I’m telling you anyone would love to open these on Christmas morning. Hand’s up who wants a pair to keep their feet warm in these this winter?
Just think in two weeks time Santa will be whizzing around the world delivering presents and I have the perfect gift for any little one in your life, for December 10, why not send a letter from Santa with the NSPCC. For a donation of £5 you can create a personalised letter from Santa to any kids in your life, including their favourite activities, achievements for the year and things they’ve got up to with their friends. They don’t take long to make but the joy it will bring will be amazing, plus your donation will help the charity help other children who will be spending Christmas in fear, poverty or abuse.
For December 11, I share with you the Royal National Institute of Blind People and its Christmas appeal to raise money to create talking books for thousands of children and adults with sight loss, as did you know that only 7% of books are available as a talking book. There is no set donation, just give what you can to help the RNIB provide practical and emotional support to almost two million people in the UK living with sight loss. Why not donate to the RNIB instead of sending out traditional Christmas cards in the mail, opt for digital ones and let your loved ones know that you donated to a wonderful cause.
Christmas isn’t the best time for everyone, it can also be a very stressful, and for December 12‘s charity, I’m highlighting the incredible work of the Samaritans. Make a difference this Christmas by donating to towards its services that help support people struggling to cope this Christmas. £10 could give much-needed support to teenagers in schools, helping them learn the importance of their own emotional health, while £20, could help answer five calls, emails or texts from people struggling to cope, and £30 could keep one of our branches open for 6 hours.
Each Christmas how many boxes of chocolates do you gift? A handful? Well, for December 13, why not consider heading to Thorntons to buy a box from their Continental range, as this festive season their ‘Pass the Love’ campaign is in partnership with the SSAFA, the charity that supports the armed forces an their families. As part of the collaboration, 2% of all sales from the Thorntons Continental boxed product range, purchased in Thorntons owned stores in the UK and on the Thorntons website, will be paid in support of SSAFA. Fancy helping out the charity a little more, head over to the charity and purchase one of their ‘gifts that serve’ from £10 for baby supplies to £30 to help with an emergency provisions pack.
December 14, I’m highlighting the work of Save the Children, a charity that promotes children’s rights, provides relief and helps support children in developing countries. There are so many ways in which you can support from buying a child winter clothes for £11 to providing an art set to bring a sense of normality to a child’s life for £7. Whether you want to help refugees, support education, or birthing, there are virtual gifts for everything – why not buy four tree saplings for £12, five mosquito nets for £21 or a birthing kit for a midwife for £12 featuring soap, cotton wool and sterilised scissors to help deliver babies safely.
Have you started thinking about what trimmings you are going to have on Christmas Day? Well, spare a thought for someone who is homeless this Christmas and reserve them a spot with Crisis. For £26.08, you can give someone who is homeless a hot, delicious, nutritious Christmas dinner, advice on housing, benefits, finances, employment, as well as legal matters, healthcare, including TB and hepatitis screening, dental treatment and eye tests, including glasses, hairdressing and massage treatments, and learning and skills opportunities, internet cafés and IT workshops, as well specialist centres providing safe accommodation to rough sleepers, women and people with dependency issues.
Looking for a last minute Christmas present? Why not pop into your local Matalan and support its Get Spotted campaign for Alder Hey by buying a pair of its multicoloured spotty pyjamas – I’m loving the navy ones. Not only are they a cute present but all of the funds raised will help Alder Hey Children’s Hospital deliver life-changing research into childhood medical conditions.
Over the past few months, extreme weather has left thousands of families without a single scrap of shelter, from devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean to the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh, and ShelterBox has launched a Christmas campaign to give the gift of a home this festive season. £65 could provide 5 thermal blankets to keep warm and a water filtration kit for clean drinking water.
The Salvation Army does such amazing work all year round, but at Christmas it really helps out people who have nothing, and you could help support their work with a donation as low as £19 that could provide a box filled with food and modest gifts for a family in need.
Each year I add new charities to the mix, but one tradition that has stuck is supporting Shelter‘s Christmas campaign, which this year is focusing on claims that 125,000 children will be homeless this Christmas and urging the public to make supporting Shelter ‘your new Christmas tradition’. With that horrid winter chill in the air think about those less fortunate who will be sleeping rough this Christmas.
I’ve always had such wonderful rescue cats in my life, so it made sense to include the Cat Protection Charity on this 24 days of giving blog. They have an incredible gift shop and you can even find a digital stocking filler, as you could donate in your friends and family name. £10 – feeds a cat in our care for over a month, while £20 – treats a kitten with conjunctivitis, and £35 – vaccinates a cat against diseases like enteritis and leukaemia.
Macmillan is one of those charities that does so much for people in pain, support people affected by cancer and you could give a virtual meaningful gift this Christmas from its gift list. £10 will donate half an hour of support worker time, or how about £120 to fund a nurse for half the day.
Domestic violence increases around the festive season and you could help Refuge support thousands of women and children in need of shelter and support. £10 could pay for a child’s school pack, £35 could pay for a children’s fun day, while £75 could pay for a local support group.
Tackle the world’s water crisis with a donation to Water Aid, with one of their many gifts such as a family loo ‘bog builder’ gift for £54, or why not opt for a bag of cement for a toilet base for £10 or a water hand pump for £37. Send your gifts with a personalised e-card, and what’s even better the Government has pledged to double any donations made until January 31, 2018.
As we all know, a dog isn’t just for Christmas, so why not sponsor a puppy instead with the Guide Dogs and give someone who’s blind their independence back. Choose Poppy, Alfie or Harry and then select your monthly payment, from £4.33 a month to £10. You will be able to download your certificate and puppy photo straight away so makes a great last minute gift.
Thank you guys so much for sharing all these fantastic charities in the run-up to Christmas and I hope you discovered some new ways to support the organisations you love.