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...
Give To The Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal
In the 26 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 instore. 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 $1 donations 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.
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.
Donate To The Auckland City Mission
The Auckland City Mission is 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 this awesome organisation 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.
Your contribution may even help finance the Mission's annual Christmas Lunch, this year taking place at The Cloud. Around 1600 guests, including low-income families, isolated elderly people and the city's homeless are expected to descend on the venue for Auckland's biggest festive feast, which will be prepared in the nearby Spark Arena kitchens.
Until the end of December you can also help contribute to the Auckland City Mission's much-used food bank, by adding a $2 donation to your bill at one of the restaurants participating in the DINEAID initiative (think The French Café, Euro, Café Hanoi). Alternatively, purchase the DINEAID special from the menu, and $2 from the cost of the dish will also go to the cause. Food with feels—we like it.
Keep the good vibes going and take in the best Christmas lights Auckland has to offer.
Image credit: Ben White