Taking time out
If you’re lucky enough to have some time off at the end of the year, by all means catch up with friends and family, enjoy the holiday parties, and partake in the merriment. But don’t forget to carve a little time for yourself amidst the madness. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed with all the goings-on of the season with work holiday parties, family obligations, friends’ dinner parties… the list goes on. Just remember, you don’t have to say yes to every invitation that comes your way. It is absolutely okay, necessary even we’d say, to schedule time just for yourself. Whether that’s a walk in nature, a lazy afternoon with a book, your favourite hobby or just sitting by the beach – make the time and do it. Even better, use this time as an opportunity to reflect on the year that’s been and set your intentions for 2016.
Giving with intention
“It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” – Dr Suess, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
It’s a beautiful thing, gift-giving. It can bring so much joy to both the giver and the recipient. And when you get it just right, giving a heart-felt gift that is right on the mark, the look of excitement and gratitude is priceless. Unfortunately, the tradition of exchanging gifts at Christmas can sometimes feel like an obligation which leads us to rush out and buy a bunch of stuff. We all know the kind of impulse purchases that we’ve received and probably given before. (A ‘spa hamper’ with a kilo of shredded paper filler and one bath bomb, anyone? )
So our advice is to avoid giving gifts that will add clutter to your giftee’s life, and to give ones that can be truly enjoyed – think consumables and experiences. A fancy bottle of wine, delicious fair trade tea or chocolate, class vouchers (the gift of learning!) or tickets to a show are all lovely gifts that show you care without adding clutter.
Gifts that make a difference
If you’re really not sure what to get someone, why not a goat, a hygiene kit or some farming seeds? Maybe not literally, but giving the gift of a donation in someone’s name is possible through a number of charities, some of our favourites are:
Unicef Inspired Gifts
Plan International Australia Gifts of Hope
World Vision Gifts that Give Back
If you want to give a gift anonymously to someone in need, Kmart’s Wishing Tree let’s you make the season bright for a child who might not otherwise receive a gift this Christmas.
Spreading holiday cheer
The holiday season is a time to reflect on everything in your life – all the people, opportunities, and comforts you have to be thankful for and look after those who may have less. There are so many wonderful organisations (like our charity partners!) doing important work to help those less fortunate. Take some time over the Christmas period to ask yourself how you can help, and then get in touch with the organisation that aligns. Many charities are inundated with requests to volunteer on Christmas Day, but need all the help they can get the other 364 days of the year. What a wonderful feeling it will be to start the new year with a plan to give back!
If you’re around Sydney on Christmas Day, The Wayside Chapel hosts a Christmas lunch to bring the community together and provide a festive meal to the homeless people of Kings Cross. The Christmas Wayside Chapel Street Party has filled volunteer positions but, in the true sense of community, would love to see people from all walks of life join together to celebrate. Mission Australia hosts a similar Christmas Lunch in the Park in Perth and is seeking sponsorships for plates of food.
If you have a neighbour or colleague who will be on their own for Christmas, why not make like HONY for the Holidays, an initiative to pair people with nowhere to go for Christmas with those who have an extra place, and invite them to spend the day with you? Whether you have a big family feast or just a small gathering, adding one more spot at the table is a beautiful way to live out the generosity of the season.
Lifeline and beyondblue are sadly overwhelmed with calls during this time of the year from those struggling with mental health. Pete Schmigel, CEO of Lifeline Australia says, “Often, a compassionate ear can be the best way to support someone going through a difficult period, and this is particularly important during the festive season.”
If you or a loved one needs someone to talk to, please call Lifeline 13 11 14 or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.
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