Four alternative Christmas presents you can give to friends and family

It's here, it's now: the Christmas shopping frenzy is real.

Giving gifts at Christmas is lovely, and surprising someone you love with a token of appreciation can warm your heart as much as theirs. But presents don't have to be expensive - in fact, they don't necessarily have to be objects at all.

Here are some alternative present ideas to put a smile on someone’s face this Christmas.

Kind-hearted actions can go a long way

Christmas is the perfect opportunity to do something spontaneous, however big or small, nice for somebody or give them an experience they’ve never had. Doing some extra bits and bobs around the house, for example, could go a long way in helping your parents relax at a busy time of the year.

An act of kindness can help put a smile on somebody’s face

If you have a hobby or an activity you like to take part in, you could invite a friend to try it for the first time. You never know - your actions could lead them to discovering a new interest. Some people may feel lonely at Christmas, or indeed all year round, and being on the receiving end of a nice action can help someone feel supported. The Samaritans say that getting together and talking, even if it’s making somebody a cup of tea and having a chat, can go a long way.

Making something for someone

Making something for someone, whether it’s a yummy treat or even a piece of art, could be a lovely present. If you fancy yourself a bit of a chef, or if you want to give baking a go, then BBC Food has lots of inexpensive, simple recipes that you could make. Everyone loves treats at this time of year, so Christmas brownies or some snowman cupcakes are likely to go down well.

Making your own Christmas cards is a nice gesture and is a more eco-friendly option

Making something could give your present a more personal touch and might even be cheaper than a traditional gift.

If you’re struggling to think of what you can make, then some of these ideas from Blue Peter will have you covered. You could make somebody a bath bomb to help a family member relax after a stressful day, or maybe a homemade Christmas card, which can can also be eco-friendly.

Giving back (to the environment)

Keeping with the eco-friendly theme, this Christmas could be the perfect opportunity for you to give back to the environment.

Recycling and reusing can help you to have a green Christmas, but you could also give somebody some seeds, or maybe a potted plant, which could flourish into beautiful flowers or an elegant tree.

Planting a tree on someone’s behalf or giving seeds are two ways you can give back to the environment

There are organisations which will plant a tree on someone else’s behalf, so you can dedicate it to them. This can play a small part in helping forests grow and wildlife survive.

There are also organisations which will allow you to adopt or sponsor a vulnerable or endangered animal to increase their numbers. This may help to keep animals at risk of extinction safe and potentially increase their numbers.

Donating to charity

If you don’t do this already, Christmas could be the perfect time to donate to charities close to your heart. You could do this as part of a gift for someone you know, and let them know you did it in your Christmas wishes message.

Food, sanitary items, toys, clothes and books are just some of the things you can donate

It doesn't necessarily have to be money. Essential items like non-perishable food and sanitary products are particularly in demand at this time of year. You could donate items to organisation helping those who may be struggling. It’s always best to check with them what exactly they may require, but popular items may be: cereal, tinned foods and ingredients (like soup and beans), and products like nappies, toothpaste and deodorant.

Or you could offer your time in the form of volunteering. Homeless shelters, emergency organisations, charity shops and just some of the places where your help could be appreciated.

If you decide to volunteer your time, do tell your parents or guardian where you are going to be and how long for. And if you do want to donate, make sure it's something you can afford.

Finally, it's worth bearing in mind these lovely things to do all year round. But Christmas is indeed a very good time to start.

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