Make the world a better place this Christmas

Take the time to appreciate what you have. Christmas isn’t just for children. Enjoy your Christmas meal, time with friends and family. Reflect on all your blessings.

Plan in advance; think about the impact of your festivities. I was glad to find beautiful LED Christmas lights last year, so I can enjoy my pretty tree without worrying about an increase to my carbon footprint. Buy Fair Trade chocolate. Take the turkey pledge to know where your bird comes from, what it ate and how it lived. Try not to support unreasonable pork and poultry farming practices. Buy from local, free range producers.

So many people get swept up in crazy consumerism at Christmas. But we forget that we can choose to buy into that, or not. I like to call it conscious consumption.

Make Christmas gifts for your friends and family. There are some lovely ideas out there. Homemade skin care is a real treat, some lovingly prepared Christmas biscuits, or a bottle of homemade liqueur. Fig Jam and Lime Cordial has a great recipe for homemade Irish Cream.

If that’s a bit scary, or you haven’t the time, then shop locally. Buying from small businesses, rather than big corporates will mean someone from your community makes the rent, or gets an extra special gift this year. Buy something from your local potter, jewellery maker, artist, gourmet or nurseryman. Buy something that teaches, grows, nourishes, lasts.

You can also buy great gifts through charities. This year I’ve been watching the great items on offer through Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, funding the treatment of childbirth injuries and the training of midwives in Ethiopia. What could be more fitting? Perhaps some bullets to beads: Ethiopian jewellery made from melted bullet casings? That sounds like a step toward peace on earth to me.

Give to those less fortunate. Give well. Don’t give second hand items to the drive for refugee children; give something you can be proud of, something you would gladly give to a friend or family member. Put something nice under the Salvation Army Wishing Tree. Contribute something yummy to a local food drive.

Consider giving a financial donation to charity, or a pay it forward gift to friends and family. I gave goats and chickens to my whole family one year. I thought it was a hoot. Of course, Oxfam actually gave the goats to families overseas; as did the chickens. Although, I can think of several families near and far who would more than appreciate baby chickens under the Christmas tree. Childfund’s Gifts for Good also help you give school supplies to children in Vietnam. Have you thought about giving someone a fancy water filter? Splash out and send one to a family in Honduras too.

It may seem a bit saccharine. But you really do have the power to make the world a better place. Reflect on the impact of your choices and choose to behave positively in small and large ways.