• Tue
  • Jul 29, 2014
  • Updated: 6:43pm

Good times are here

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 December, 2010, 12:00am
 

It may be the season to be jolly, but Christmas has become so commercialised, with everyone focusing only on getting better presents than last year, they often forget the true meaning of Christmas. Even if you're not religious, it's important to remember that Christmas should be about giving, sharing and loving, and doing what we can to make the world a better place.

Here are some ideas to inspire you to be truly good this Christmas.

The gift of time

If you usually spend your Christmas holiday parked on the sofa, playing video games, maybe it's time to reassess your lifestyle. There are loads of charities that need volunteers, for everything from paperwork and cleaning to talking to the recipients and fund-raising. Check out handsonhongkong.org and www.volunteering-hk.org to see who you can help, and what you can do.

Or just think about people around you - it's very likely that your elderly neighbour would sometimes just like someone to talk to, or your young cousins need help with their homework. Giving your time makes other people's lives easier, and makes you feel great about yourself.

Greener gifts

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without some presents under the tree. But with our landfills overflowing and the hole in the ozone layer still growing, make sure the gifts you give aren't damaging the earth.

WWF has a range of eco-friendly gifts, such as traditional games made from wood from sustainable forests. Look for recycled and organic products, and go for locally made products where possible - if something hasn't been imported, it means it hasn't created a carbon footprint.

Don't forget the wrapping paper: instead of buying expensive, glossy paper that you'll just throw away, and might not even be recyclable, use magazines or newspapers - Young Post's colourful pages are perfect.

The gift of love

Not every child in the world, or even in Hong Kong, is lucky enough to have a loving family and a roof over their head. Instead of buying your friends or family another gift that's just going to gather dust, think about sponsoring a child in their name instead. The sponsorship can be global, with an organisation such as World Vision (www.worldvision.org), regional, with the Salvation Army's China programme (www.salvation.org.hk), or keep your focus closer to home and donate to Hong Kong children through groups such as Po Leung Kuk (www.poleungkuk.org.hk) or SKH St Christopher's Home (www.skhsch.org.hk).

Paws for the cause

If you're buying something for an animal-lover, consider adopting a polar bear, tiger or member of another endangered species. WWF has adoption packages that include a photo of the animal and a stuffed toy version of the creature you're helping to save.

Gifts that give back

If you're buying foodie gifts, check out what Fair Trade items are available. For example, buying Divine chocolate helps to improve the lives of the farmers who grow the cocoa. Local social enterprise Fairtaste (www.fairtaste.org) offers teas, coffees and snacks that not only taste delicious, they help to create a greener, more harmonious world.

It is also getting easier to find companies that donate products to those in need. For example, Toms makes comfy, casual shoes; for every pair you buy, another pair will be given to a needy child. The Body Shop is famous for its pioneering efforts in protecting the environment, fair trade, supporting HIV/Aids research and fighting domestic violence, all through the sales of its products. Local brand G.O.D. has worked with Kids4Kids to produce a set of funky placemats featuring art by children aged six to 17 with the theme 'My Hong Kong'. Proceeds will go to charity.

Get googling for other 'gifts that give back', and make someone's Christmas present twice as meaningful.

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