Times are tough. Lockdown 2, darker nights, grim Covid predictions and more uncertainty means we all need a boost. Last week (mid-October) I talked so someone who had already put up her Christmas tree. Mince pies have already been in the shops for a while. This year Christmas will be different but there are lots of ways it can still be special.
Now is a good time to find interesting, fun and ethical gifts for your loved ones. Here are some suggestions about how you can use your Christmas budget to support local businesses, social enterprises, museums and charities. They need your support more than ever.
Buy good gifts
- Oxfam’s online charity shop is an amazing source of unique items if you are looking for a gift. You can search by price to fit your budget.
- Many larger charities have online shops selling new gifts.
– RSPB have a listing of stocking filler gifts (I love these Pigeon Post notelets).
– Cancer Research UK have gifts for Secret Santa.
– Samaritans have gifts for under £10.
– NSPCC have gifts for kids and grown-up kids. (These bear baby socks are super cute!)
– Woodland Trust have lots of eco-friendly and nature gifts. (See this Poos and Clues Swatch book.)
- Some have more limited ranges only selling cards and a few special items. Take a look at Shelter’s range of chocolate bars.
- Some charities have subscription packages which might make nice gifts. For example Art from Crisis. The Blurt Foundation have lots of different packages including a daily dollop of kindness at £5 per month.
- NEW! Hundreds of charity fairs across the country have had to cancel. The Charity Fairs Assocation lists lots of them, links to sites where you can shop online, and has a central directory of sellers too. See also Online Christmas Fair.
- There are lots of brilliant museum shops which would welcome your business. Try Turner Contemporary Margate and BALTIC Gateshead, Art UK and Museums Shops. Top finds include:
– Benny’s Babbies poster print by Cold War Steve from BMAG for the Brummie in your life
– an absolute unit tea towel from MERL (via Art UK)
– a ‘Citizen not Subject’ mug from Bristol Museums
– stylish facemasks (see Fitzwilliam’s greetings cards too of masterpieces wearing face coverings)
– a child’s knitted knight hat from Historic Royal Palaces
– snazzy (tartan) socks from National Museums Scotland.
- Memberships can be good gifts and can support environmental, arts and heritage organisations. Try the National Art Pass or become a friend of your local gallery or theatre. For example, The Tower Theatre in Hackney or the Wharf Theatre Devizes which has a youth member option. Join the Ramblers or become a member of the YHA.
- Buying books? Don’t use A****n, use Bookshop.org, the new online store supporting local, independent bookshops.
- Radical Tea Towels have a great selection of tea towels, calenders, wash bags and masks. They give donations to related causes. Didn’t know you needed a Women’s March oven mit?
- Is there a directory of local businesses in your area or a social media account which is helping to promote them (like @shopSE19 in Crystal Palace, London)? Shop and follow them where you can.
- Find something unique via Etsy the online marketplace for thousands of artists and craftspeople.
- Not a charity but this was one of the best presents I bought last year – custom OS maps. Select the area you want (finally a way to stop the curse of the important bit being on the edge or fold), add your own cover image and text. Tis a thing of beauty.
- The Ethical Superstore has thousands of Fairtrade, organic and eco-friendly gifts to suit all budgets.
- The Fairtrade Foundation has useful lists too – such as where to buy fairtrade flowers.
- NEW! Buy Me Once lists durable products. Look here for your forever umbrella.
- Check out Social Enterprise UK’s Buy Social Directory and their 2020 gift guide.
Sign up to sites like Easy Fundraising and The Giving Machine to generate donations to your favourite charities while you shop online. If you are running a Secret Santa, use the Giving Machine’s Secret Santa generator to make it easy.
Buy a gift for someone else
Support a seasonal gift charity campaign (more to come as they launch).
- Donate £10 to support Book Trust’s annual campaign. “Christmas won’t be magical for every child.”
- Be Secret Santa for a child in need via Stipey Stork, a Surrey based babybank.
- Help a child deprived of an education with a school bag and its contents for £20 via charity School in a Bag. You can track the bag to see exactly where it’s gone.
- NEW! Choose Love. Buy gifts for refugees from £5. Includes emergency blankets, hot food parcels and language and skills support. Here’s the Choose Love this Christmas social campaign.
- Help Little Village find the perfect gift for 1000 children in London this year. Buy a gift voucher from £5.
- Does your local charity have a wishlist? Support them by buying items they need. For example, the Crisis Skylight in Newcastle has biscuits, face masks and gloves on their Amazon wishlist.
- This year there are 17 Xmas Dinner projects around the country, supporting care leavers. Each is fundraising and many have wishlists for gifts. Find one near you.
- Oxfam Unwrapped – gifts from £5.
- NEW! Adopt a word from the Ministry of Stories to support the next generation of storytellers. Flummery and moonglade are still available….
Spread Christmas cheer
Why not pool your funds and do something bigger as a team or family?
- Reserve someone a place at Crisis at Christmas for £28.22.
- Buy a safety kit or actual bike for a refugee via The Bike Project.
- Support NSPCC’s services by buying one of their Big Little Gifts (£25-£60). You could also support them through their Letter from Santa for £5.
- Twin your loo via Toilet Twinning for £60. Or twin your bin from £45.
- Is there a local toy collection or food bank you could contribute to?
There are also countless fundraising appeals, virtual Christmas jumper days and Reverse Advent Calendar campaigns which you could get involved with.
What are you doing?
Are you planning a Zoom Secret Santa or a lockdown Christmas kitchen party? How are you planning to boost morale and spread some festive cheer this year? I’d love to know. Please share in the comments.
- Buying an advent calendar – get an Advent of Change one which supports 48 causes.
- NEW! Is your company or community’s Christmas party cancelled? See Xmas Party Heroes for an alternative way to spend the budget. Pledge your saved costs to a charity of your choice.
- NEW! 5 ways you can still make this Christmas special – Oxfam.
- Have a greener Christmas. Take a look at Oxfam’s Green Christmas to-do list (from 2019) for lots of tips.
- NEW! Shop local – Shop Birmingham. Great gift guide sharing loads of links to Birmingham’s independent traders by BabAboutTown.
Charity digital advent calendars – tips and examples if you are running a digital calendar for your charity or community.
Disclaimer: all links included in this post are examples and intended for guidance only. Inclusion does not constitute an endorsement. Please do your own research before making purchases.