It's no secret we love Christmas and all the glitz and glam that comes with it, from beautifully wrapped gifts beneath pretty trees, to swanky end-of-year parties with fancy food and drink. However we also know that, as the Grinch himself discovered, 'Christmas means a little bit more'.
It's about spending time with loved ones, creating special memories and most important—helping out those less fortunate than ourselves. With that said, here are some simple ways you can give a little something back this festive season—who knows, maybe your heart will even grow a few sizes bigger, just as the Grinch's did...
Donate To Ronald McDonald House Charities' The Gift Of Time Together Appeal
Give To The Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal
In the 27 years since it started, the annual Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal—a partnership with long-running charity, The Salvation Army—has handed out more than half a million Christmas presents to Kiwis in need, earning itself the title of New Zealand's largest and longest-running gift appeal.
The premise for this one's simple—buy a present of your choice, and leave it under the Christmas tree in store. In a true show of Christmas spirit, the gift doesn't even have to be purchased from Kmart (though, let's be honest, it probably will be!); however the company does encourage practical presents that last beyond the festive season, as well as those for teenagers and older boys (the groups it struggles most to get gifts for).
This year, the retail giant is also accepting cash contributions at the checkout or online which go directly to The Salvation Army, making the spirit of giving even easier. Oh, and all you last-minute shoppers out there needn't worry—Kmart will be accepting these offers of help right up until Christmas Eve. Get giving.
Buy A Jar Of The Silly Seasoning
For a real feel-good treat these holidays, be sure to snap up a jar of The Silly Seasoning from Raptor Naturals. A delicious combo of hokey pokey choccy from Devonport Chocolates, spicy ginger biccies from Pure Delish, strawberries, pineapple and raspberries from Fresh As, gold kiwifruit from NZ Apple Products and organic blackcurrants from Viberi, this is literal joy in a jar and will pair perfectly with that Chrissy pav (or any number of other festive treats). It'll set you back just $9.90 and the best bit is, 100% of the profits go toward KidsCan, who aim to provide food and other essentials for Kiwi kids affected by poverty. But be in quick, this yumminess is in strictly limited supply.
Shop At Oxfam
The award for most creative way to give back this Christmas goes to Oxfam, with meaningful gift ideas that are completely outside the box (and as such, don't come in one). This well-known charity/development organisation offers a great range of alternative pressies through its Unwrapped range, whereby you choose a gift-card representing a particular issue, which is then given to your loved one while the physical present is sent to the person/s in need.
If you're in the mood for splashing cash, choose the Water For A School option (from $106), which helps bring clean water to an entire school in Papua New Guinea; or for something a little cheaper but with equally sweet sentiment, consider the Honey Bees (from $24), which helps families in countries like Vanuatu start up their own beekeeping business.
Our personal favourite, however, has to be the hilariously-named Pile of Poo (from $18)—send someone this card, bearing the words “No expense spared: I got you the best crap” and you'll be helping people in developing nations grow crops with the ultimate fertiliser.
However if that's not quite to your taste, consider buying a more traditional gift like the beautiful, ethically-made homewares and clothing, or delish FairTrade goodies such as chocolate and coffee that are available from Oxfam's online store. Naturally, money from your purchase will go toward supporting the charity and its work with these artisans.
Give To The Rover Run 2020
It's a well known (not to mention extremely sad) fact that the festive season is the busiest time of year for pet shelters and rescue centres, who are inundated with abandoned puppies and kittens during this period. Enter My Rover and Hill's Nutrition, who have joined forces to bring us The Rover Run 2020, an initiative where animal-lovers can donate pet food to more than 100 such organisations across the country via a dedicated online store, or—if you live in Auckland—they can even pick up pet food from your home. Cue the warm fuzzies.
Donate To Your Local City Mission
City missions are a shining light for many people at this time of the year, helping to provide those in need with the means to enjoy a special Christmas. Assist these awesome organisations in spreading some holiday cheer by making a simple donation, which could be used to pay for anything from festive food packages through to toys and other gifts to put under the tree, as well as a special lunch on the day itself (full Auckland details here, Wellington details here, and Christchurch details here).
Until the end of December you can also help contribute to these missions' food banks, by adding a $2 donation to your bill at any of the restaurants participating in the DINEAID initiative (think The French Café, Jervois Steak House, Café Hanoi). Alternatively, purchase the DINEAID special from the menu, and a portion of the purchase price will also go to the cause. Food with feels—we like it.
Buy A Westpac Rescue Rashie
Help do your bit to keep our beaches safe this summer by buying a Westpac Rescue Rashie. These clever shirts are available in sizes two-eight and unzip to reveal clear and concise CPR instructions for parents and caregivers, should their littlies get into trouble around the water (incredibly, only 18% of us would feel confident performing CPR if required). Plus $15 from the $25 purchase price will go directly to Westpac Rescue Choppers, who are on hand to assist with emergency situations over the festive season and beyond.
Give To The New Zealand Food Network's Christmas Appeal
There's nothing we love more than stuffing our face on Christmas Day, but for many people, this is a luxury they literally can't afford (it's predicted that one in five Kiwis risks going hungry this festive season). Enter the New Zealand Food Network, a new charity that is aiming to feed 15,000 people this Christmas with the help of local dairy legends, Anchor. Jump online and donate, and you'll help see families across the country receive hampers packed full of foodie goodies for lunch on December 25, from fresh fruit and veg, right through to festive essentials like custard, butter and cream. With donations starting from as little as $5, getting your give on really couldn't be easier.
Help Out Everybody Eats
Here at Urban List, we spend a lot of time writing about new openings and the latest and greatest foodie fads, but we also know there's a huge amount of food waste and food poverty happening, right here in New Zealand. So what better way to fire up those warm fuzzies this festive season than by helping out the incredible team at Everybody Eats, a charity who serve chef-prepared, pay-as-you-feel food that would otherwise be destined for the bin, at four locations nationwide. All they want for Christmas is to add another site to their belt, and you can help them by jumping online and making a donation, giving gift cards to family and friends (every $10 spent feeds two people in need), signing up to volunteer at one of their locations and more. The bottom line? Feed bellies this Christmas, not bins.
Keep the good vibes going and take in the best Christmas lights Auckland has to offer.
Image credit: Ben White