"Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas."
- Calvin Coolidge
It's easy to get wrapped up (excuse the pun) in the commercialism of Christmas, but when we look beyond the buying of unnecessary presents, the stresses of preparing the perfect turkey dinner and the competition for the best dressed tree there are plenty of opportunities to return to the real spirit of Christmas. Here are a few ideas to reconnect to the spirit of community, family and giving this festive season... here's to a happy holistic holiday! The Gift of Giving Does your Dad really need yet another pair of socks, a bottle of talc and some Old Spice? Nope ... didn't think so. Rather than buying the same old present just for the sake of it, why not donate to a charity on their behalf. Goodgifts.org is a fantastic site for all budgets. We all have that one person to buy for who seems to have everything so put your money to better use instead. Just £8 will buy 3 chickens for an African war widow, £55 will build a tent school for slum children in India, and £160 will buy you 80m of greenbelt to hold in trust and stop it being developed on. Volunteer Your Time With a bit of extra leave over the Christmas season why not volunteer to help out at your local soup kitchen or retirement home? Many organisations get flooded with people wanting to help on Christmas day itself so look into getting involved on other days, ideally with a view to helping out regularly. If you have a special skill in cooking, music, teaching or art, find out if there are opportunities for you to do what you do best. It is a wonderful, soul feeding thing to be able to give back to your local community. A Group Effort Rather than slaving over a hot stove for two days in an attempt to make the perfect Christmas dinner, get your loved ones involved. Allocate people to prepare the potatoes, side dishes and starters to take the pressure off and get the kids involved with making Christmas cupcakes. Pile everyone into the kitchen, turn up the music, crack open a bottle of wine and get stuck in together. Know Thy Neighbour It's a sad fact that nowadays that many of us don't know our own neighbours. The truth is that there may be someone living just meters away from you who is lonely and vulnerable this Christmas. Take time to hand deliver a few cards this year and stop for a chat or a cup of tea. This simple act may really brighten someone's day and you may make a great new friend at the same time You Were Once the New Girl Too There's a new girl who has stared working at your office and the Christmas party is fast approaching. She doesn't really know anyone yet and the idea of spending the evening with a bunch of relative strangers must be daunting right? Welcome her into the fold and invite her for lunch with some of your other colleagues so she can get to know them and you. If you're going for a couple of drinks before the party, extend the invite to help her to feel comfortable ... remember you were once in her shoes. Clear Out and Donate After the tree comes down and the fairy lights have been switched off, take time to declutter the rest of your home for the new year. Bag up any unwanted presents, and while you're at it, have a rifle through your closet and take out anything you haven't worn or used in a while. Head down to your local charity shop and donate. This time of year is also a good time to pick up any gifts for the coming year. Charity shops have some great finds in January so snap up a good deal while you can and enjoy the fact that your money is going to a worthy cause. Wishing you a beautiful Christmas with love always,