It’s the season of goodwill and giving, and I fully intend to get into the spirit. I love Christmas, I love the warm glow of the high street, the compassion and joy it brings to everyone around me and it has always been my favourite time of year. But I will admit – it’s also cold, a little miserable and it rains a lot too so for the majority of the month, I like to stay curled up on my sofa watching festive films with a warm cup of tea.
This year, however, I started thinking – what if there were some good, wholesome acts of kindness I could do from this very spot? With Elf on the tv, snuggled up my Christmas pyjamas with my laptop on my knee, what can I do to help other people this December?
I’ve put together a little list of some virtual acts of kindness you can do to those who need it, right from your sofa. Give them a go, and let me know what you thought in the comments below!
One of the easiest ways to show kindness to the retailers you shop with is a great customer review – yet so few of us actually leave them. For independent merchants and sellers, 5* reviews can be the difference between a big sale or a big flop, even on major shopping sites likes Amazon, Ebay and Etsy.
If you buy something, anything, from an independent retailer online this year and it comes out great, take 5 minutes to leave them a little review. Compliment the delivery time, the packaging, the product and leave them as many stars as you feel comfortable doing. It costs nothing, takes up very little time and could really mean a lot to a small business owner. Amazon even likes to encourage these reviews by grouping them together, meaning you can blast through as many as possible in on one easy click.
2. Rating your Uber drivers
Throughout December, for those of us who live in busy cities, Uber will be our very own Santa’s sleigh – taking us to Christmas markets, office parties, train stations and shopping centres. Whilst we might not necessarily enjoy chatting to our drivers about the weather during our most stressful and busiest hours, one of the best ways to support their business is simply to leave them a good review.
This is another task that can be done from the comfort of your sofa, as swiping across for the 5 stars, and hitting that ‘great route’ button can help to boost their confidence and encourage more business for them in future. It can be easy to forget that Uber drivers are self-employed, and that they too would rather be spending time with their families and loved ones this Christmas, so take a few minutes to just thank them for helping us out this year.
3. Adopting an endangered animal
Whether you decide to gift your adoption certificate to a loved one or keep it for yourself, adopting an endangered animal can be a really great way to help protect and support our wildlife. From turtles and tigers to pandas and penguins, there are so many animals that need our donations to keep their environments alive in 2020, even if all we can give is £3 a month.
The process of adoption is so easy, and takes less than 5 minutes to complete – plus you get to receive a very cute stuffed animal in the post after donating which just makes everything better. Go through a trusted organisation like WWF to sponsor your chosen animal and put that money and kindness towards a creature that matters.
4. Support the local high street
Whilst the best way to support your local high street businesses is obviously to visit and buy from them, there are other ways to show your appreciation for their hard work this year. Do your research into your favourite high street shops, and like and share their Facebook posts. Follow their instagram accounts, subscribe to their newsletters and recommend them to your friends online.
If you’ve got the extra money to spend, opt to go completely local for your Christmas decorations or gifts this year. Pre-pick your ornaments from local gift shops, pre-order your Mum’s favourite book from an independent bookseller and get Dad’s BBQ apron personalised through that indie printer you spotted on Instagram. One of the biggest challenges to a high street business is their online competitors, so show them some love and support this December.
5. Reach out to those who need a friend
For some of us this year, Christmas won’t be that much fun. For those going through tough times, in grief or in ill health, the festive season can be a harsh reminder of their problems and worries – causing more stress than it’s worth. We all know people in our lives who might be finding the holidays hard, so why not reach out and drop them a little message of support and kindness online?
Whether you start making post-Christmas plans with them, let them know that you’re always here to listen or simply let them know you’re thinking of them, sometimes a small message of kindness can really mean a lot. From sending a silly joke to reflecting on a memory you both cherish, your words could make them smile, even if just for a moment during these long dark nights.
6. Support a charity that means something to you
Throughout the year, our lives can be touched by so many causes. From national disasters to personal struggles, we see so much pain and suffering in the world – often without really knowing how to help. This Christmas, give the gift of kindness and charity to something that means a lot to you. Donate to your favourite charitable cause, support your local animal shelter, pay for a hot meal, send someone a virtual gift card…There are so many ways to give generously this year and even a small amount can make a big difference to someone in need.
Often, our closest loved ones can also feel the same, and want to find their own ways to give back. So why not do a charitable Secret Santa, and take turns in donating to charity you know means a lot to someone else? Instead of making the season about giving physical gifts, why not give something even better instead?
7. Speak to those long-forgotten friends
Emails are a wonderful thing. They don’t waste paper, they don’t require a pen and you can find almost anyone’s email address at the click of a button. Yet we rarely use them for good. We spend our lives using them to track parcels, plan meetings, send invoices and argue with our colleagues. What if, instead, we used them to reach out to some long-forgotten people who showed us some kindness at one point or another?
This is a great exercise to help you reflect on the people of your life – from your old school teacher to your university housemate. Drop them an email and just let them know what you’ve been up to, share a memory you have of them, enquire about their life and see how they’re getting on. Even if you didn’t necessarily end on the best terms with them, maybe Christmas is the best possible time to reconnect again?
8. Support your favourite creators
Our favourite online creators can often play a much bigger role in our lives than we perceive. They inspire us, comfort us, make us laugh and teach us new ways of living. They can help to shape our ways of thinking, give us goals and aspirations and see us through some really tough times without ever realising.
So why not share with your favourite creator just how much they’ve meant to you this year? Drop an email to your favourite Youtuber, expressing how you got them through a really hard month. Send a DM to an influencer you admire, wishing them the best for 2020. Like, support and share the work of a small creator you’ve recently found, and help them to grow their audience – even by a small number. It really can make all the difference.
Christmas is that one rare month where we all feel that little bit more charitable towards one another. With a cup of mulled wine in one hand and a mince pie in the other, we charge the high street – determined to find, give and share our love for each other in every way we know how to. So why not make the most of those quiet, small moments online to do that bit more giving this December?
Thanks for reading!