It’s well known that loneliness or social isolation increases during the festive period – and this will undoubtedly be more evident this year off the back of a global pandemic, drought and a bushfire season like no other.
Research from The Salvation Army shows that almost six million Australians feel some level of loneliness or social isolation during the festive period1 – a statistic that will undoubtedly increase this year off the back of a global pandemic, drought and a bushfire season like no other. With that in mind, helping to combat loneliness and anxiety this Christmas is top of mind for many. Here are some ways you can give back to others, the community, the earth, and yourself this festive season.
Santa for seniors
For many of us, Christmas is a time of joy, family and fun. But for our elderly community, it can represent loneliness and isolation – now more than ever due to COVID-19. That’s where volunteer-led projects such as Santa for Seniors come in. Project hosts reach out to aged care homes in their region, invite residents to share their Christmas wish list (which usually includes basic items including pyjamas, bed linen, books, make-up and toiletries), then matches them with a volunteer gift giver via the Santa for Seniors Facebook group . The simple concept celebrates the joy of giving, decreases loneliness and ensures our elderly community have a gift to open on Christmas morning.
Christmas giving with The Smith Family
When you tackle the Christmas shopping this year, spare a thought for those who may not have the means to purchase gifts for their loved ones. You can help to ensure young Australians living in poverty don’t miss out by purchasing a present from The Smith Family’s Charity Gift
You can choose from a range of meaningful gifts to bring a smile to a young face on Christmas morning, and help a disadvantaged child build a better future for themselves.
Shop local, shop small
While we’ve been locked away at home for a good part of the year, no doubt we took the opportunity to hone our online purchasing skills. But now that lockdown is lifting, it’s important we support our communities by buying local this Christmas. From gift stores and clothing boutiques to the local butcher and fruit market, our purchasing decisions this year could be the difference between a fruitful festive season and a bleak one for our community business owners. Still need to stick to online? Campaigns such as Buy From The Bush showcase regional and rural makers and creators.
Break bread with others
For the lucky ones, the words ‘Christmas lunch’ spark memories of glazed hams, fresh seafood, roast turkey and brandy-soaked pudding. For others, it’s just another reminder of what little they have. Volunteers are crucial for organisations such as Meals on Wheels and local soup kitchens that strive to share a meal with those in need. Demand for helping hands increases during the busy festive season. So, if you have the time and want to help, this may be a good way to provide assistance this Christmas.
Rethink your wrapping paper
Did you know Australians use more than 150,000km of wrapping paper during Christmas? That’s enough to wrap around the earth’s equator nearly four times!2 That’s a lot of festive paper going to waste. This year, consider wrapping your gifts in cloth or a festive tea towel that can be put to use well into the new year.
Give your presents extra meaning by using school paintings from your children as wrapping paper. The artworks could also be put to good use as Christmas cards – or forgo paper all together and email your festive greetings this year instead.
Christmas trees - go green
Now’s the time to dive into the loft, garage, or shed to unearth your beloved Christmas tree. Undoubtedly it’s made of plastic and you’d think investing in such a piece over cutting down a real tree every year is a more sustainable choice?
The thing is, most plastic trees come from overseas manufacturers with a huge carbon footprint. They’re made of environmentally-damaging petroleum chemicals and will eventually go to landfill.
Plastic trees need to be used for at least 20 years to have a lower environmental impact than a real tree that’s been purpose-grown in a plantation for up to 12 years, helped produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide.
So this year consider decorating your backyard trees or potted plants. You could even get creative and make a tree from household items like books, fairy lights and drift wood. Another option is to contribute to the conservation of one of the world’s oldest plants by investing in a Wollemi Pine.
Remember to breathe
None of us could have seen 2020 coming – but it’s taken its toll on all of us in a myriad of ways. So remember to go gently this festive season, be kind to yourself, make time to stop, take stock of the year that’s been and soak up the sun with your family and friends. Get a massage, meditate, head to a yoga class, whatever you need to do to catch your breath and dive into 2021 feeling fresh, rejuvenated and ready.