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How to Help Others Who Are Less Fortunate This Christmas

By Sabrina Collier

Updated April 18, 2021 Updated April 18, 2021

Ah, Christmas. A time for exchanging presents, stuffing yourself with pigs in blankets and getting merry on mulled wine. But Christmas is also, of course, the season of goodwill, and can be a tough time for many people, including those who are homeless, recently bereaved, lonely or struggling to make ends meet. So why not spend some time helping those in need this Christmas? Research shows that acts of kindness can have a huge benefit to your own happiness, health and sense of well-being as well as those of the people you help. Take inspiration from these acts of kindness this Christmas.


Volunteering at a food bank

No matter what you do, volunteering is a selfless act that will help transform the lives of many people over the holiday season. If you’re in the US, you can search for volunteering opportunities on the Corporation for National and Community Service’s website, and in the UK you can search on sites like Of course, another good source for finding volunteering opportunities are the official websites of individual charities. You could lend a hand in a charity shop, help out at a soup kitchen, volunteer for a charity helpline, or volunteer to wrap presents for disadvantaged children.

Make a reverse advent calendar

Alongside opening your own traditional chocolate advent calendar every day, why not make a reverse advent calendar? It’s simple: just begin with an empty box, adding one item of non-perishable food to it every day until Christmas. You can then take it to your local food bank. Check with your nearest food bank to see exactly what should and shouldn’t be included in your box. As well as the basics, you could throw in some treats like cakes and biscuits – alcohol shouldn’t be included, however.

Another way to donate to your local food bank and help those in need this Christmas is to head to the supermarket and get food for the sole purpose of donating it to the food bank.

Give blood

Another great act of kindness at any time of year, demand for lifesaving blood donations doesn’t slow down at Christmas. If you’re fit and healthy, aged over 17, and weigh over seven stone 12 pounds (or 50kg) you should be able to give blood. The whole experience is relatively quick (although you’ll need to spend some time after your donation being monitored in case you feel light-headed or ill) and is one of the most selfless and rewarding things you can do.

You could also register to give permission for your organs to be donated after your death. In the UK this is the NHS Organ Donor Register, in the US you can register at

Befriend an elderly person

Visit the Elderly

Statistics suggest that as many as one in three elderly people feel lonely and isolated, which can lead to depression and a decline in physical health and wellbeing. If you have any elderly neighbors, even just starting a conversation with them can have such a positive impact. You can also offer to help with practical tasks like shopping or dog-walking or offer to help them get to medical appointments and other activities. Bear in mind that the latter is probably only recommended if you have a pre-existing relationship with them, as a stranger might be intimidated or scared by someone they don’t know intruding on their life. Charities such as Age UK and Independent Age also run volunteering opportunities to befriend an elderly person – if you live too far away to visit in person, you can befriend them via telephone.

Invite international students over for Christmas

International students who are staying on campus over the Christmas break might be feeling isolated in their deserted student halls – so why not ask if they’d like to come to yours for Christmas dinner? You could also ask anyone else you know who seems lonely and might be spending Christmas alone. No one should be alone on Christmas!

Gift a refuge parcel

Give a refuge parcel

Help out children and women escaping domestic abuse this Christmas by gifting a refuge parcel. Refuge parcels range from £10 to £100, so it’s up to you how much you want to donate. Your refuge parcels may provide emergency toiletries, food and clothing for women who have suffered domestic abuse, or even a Christmas present for a child who has lost their favorite toy.

Help out at a food bank

There are a wide range of opportunities to volunteer at a food bank, particularly around the Christmas period. Whether you wish to volunteer as a warehouse volunteer, a food bank center volunteer, as a social enterprise volunteer, or even as an office volunteer, there is plenty you can do to help those less fortunate at Christmas. Find out how you can help on the Trussel Trust website.

Perform simple, random acts of kindness

Acts of Kindness

Simple, unexpected acts of kindness at Christmas can really brighten someone’s day and make you feel great about yourself as well. You could…

  • Give a generous tip to a friendly customer service worker like a waiter or barista
  • Buy a homeless person a sandwich and a hot drink
  • Help someone who’s struggling with their luggage on public transport
  • Give up your seat to someone on busy public transport
  • Buy your friend chocolate (or a drink in the pub!) when they’re feeling down…and listen thoughtfully if they need to vent
  • Give genuine compliments
  • Offer to take photos for any tourists you see trying to take one of themselves
  • Answer questions on to provide rice to hungry people

This article was originally published in December 2017. It was updated in December 2019.

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This article was originally published in December 2017 . It was last updated in April 2021

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Written by

The former Assistant Editor of, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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