When the holiday season rolls around, it is easy to become distracted from the things that truly matter. We bask in the bright lights, the delicious food, and all the pretty presents. This year, why not give something back and help those in need?
If you need a few ideas on how to give something back this holiday season, you're in the right place. We've rounded up what we consider to be some of the best ways to help others. From charities with special programmes to places to donate, these schemes and charities are in desperate need of your help.
Oxfam's Syria Christmas Appeal
Oxfam have got a twist on the traditional 12 days of Christmas - this year they're challenging shoppers and volunteers to join together to raise £1million in just 12 days to support Syria's thousands of refugees through the winter. So if you're wondering whether to do an office Secret Santa this year, maybe it's a better idea to suggest an office donation instead (as much as we love all those tongue-in-cheek gifts).
What's more all public donations made to Oxfam's Syria Christmas Appeal between 27th November and 27th February 2014 will be matched pound for pound by the UK Government. These donations will support families affected by the Syria crisis through providing shelter, soap, warm clothing and safe drinking water to those who need it most.
Save Santa's Home
Greenpeace have an urgent message from 'Santa' this year, as his Arctic home melts away as global warming hots up the planet. His chilling video message, featuring Downton Abbey's Jim Carter, highlights just how important it is for everyone to get behind Greenpeace's Save Santa's Home campaign.
From oil companies drilling in the Arctic Ocean to world leaders ignoring pleas to address this critical issue, there's many a good reason Santa looks so concerned.
Give something important this Christmas by signing your name to their petition to protect the Arctic and donate what you can while you're there. You'll be on Santa's good list for sure.
WWF's Big Cat Christmas
If you care about cute and furries then this is the perfect way to give something back this Christmas - the WWF Big Cat Christmas Appeal.
Their aim is to get people to adopt a big cat for someone on your Christmas list this year, from the mighty lion to a Bengal tiger to a snow leopard, or even an Amur leopard.
All of these majestic beasts are under threat from poaching and the destruction of their environment. It's tragic to think that there are as little as 35 Amur leopards left in the wild, or only 300 snow leopards left in Nepal, but projects like these help protect these species from extinction. For only £3 a month per animal, we think we'll adopt all four!
Lush's Charity Pot
If you're keen to give something back this holiday season without gifting a goat to someone (still a great idea), why not buy a gift that gives something back for you?
Like, for example, Lush's Charity Pots? We're huge fans of the natural skin-nourishing goodies that Lush make by hand, but their Charity Pots are extra special.
These pots of moisturising Body Lotion are not only made with planet-friendly cocoa butter, almond oil and geranium, they're also linked to all kinds of charitable projects across the world. Every penny (except VAT) goes towards different causes that support the environment, animal protection and human rights.
So while you give the gift of good skin, you'll also be helping out Mother Nature too. Find out more about their causes here.
Refuge Christmas Gift List Appeal
Refuge is one of the UK's leading charities that support women and children who have suffered domestic violence. Each day they help over 3,000 women and children, including Christmas Day.
When women make the courageous decision to leave an abusive partner, often they do so in the dead of night, without having time to pack any belongings at all.
To help make Christmas a more festive affair, and to support these women and kids in their hour of need, we urge you to get involved with the Refuge Christmas Gift List Appeal.
This way you can help spread a little happiness and joy by donating thoughtful gifts for women and kids from their selected gift list. Make sure you get involved before 18th December as that's when the gift list closes.
The Salvation Army’s mission statement is simple: “Doing The Most Good.” This season, do good by donating to your local Salvation Army charity shop. Whether you've got too many clothes, some unloved furniture or just too much of this and that, the Salvation Army will welcome your donations with open arms.
To help out in a more hands-on capacity, why not ask your local Salvation Army if they need any volunteers over the Christmas season? From working in their cafes to charity shops or simply lending a hand at their events, it's sure going to make you feel good.
Got another great idea to give something back this holiday season? Tweet it to us @sofeminineUK