Here at Women Aloud HQ we want to give a bit back and support our local community this Christmas. If you’d like to join us, here’s some ideas for getting involved…
We’re probably a bit late even mentioning Christmas shopping. But if, like me, you haven’t started yet – take a look at our ‘keep it local’ page which has gift ideas and a list of local (Hertfordshire-based) businesses* to buy from. If you’re one of those organised types that have already done your shopping, I salute you, but have a read anyway as present buying is for life, not just for Christmas! On the ‘keep it local’ page you’ll find gifts that are hand-made; personalised; different to the same ole stuff that the big brands sell. And you’ll get that warm, feel-good-glow…not only because you’re buying someone a special present; but because you’re also supporting women in your local community.
[*Featured businesses: 61 designs | Aerende | Bee-utiful Creations by Bee | Booganic | Cottonmill Carpentry | Creative Coccinelle | Ditz and Bobs | Frankly Decor | Hand made by Vicky | Jack’n’Roo | Just For Tiny People | Kat Jolles Mermaid Tails | Quirky Copper | Park Beauty Skincare | Peonies and Princesses | Perfect Day Creations | Ruby and Freddies | Silhouette Portraits | The Choccie Drop | The Hug Tree | Zigzags and Spots ]
And let’s not forget our independents on the high-street too. Here are a few to get your shopping started…
- Buongiorno Italia: this shop is stocked full of festive food and drink delights. Christmas hampers, chocolate covered breadsticks, amazing Panettone and so much more. Grab a coffee while you browse.
- Carpenters nursery and farm shop: not just the place to go for your fresh fruit and vegetables. They also have jams, juices, chutneys, oils, cheese – sourced from Hertfordshire based producers. Christmas hamper goodies galore.
- Quirky Interiors: the home of quirky and unusual items. Vintage, industrial and handcrafted furniture and homewares. Shop now open on Beech Farm, Coopers Green Lane. 10-5pm weekdays, 10-2pm Saturdays.
- Raindrops on Roses: they sell as many locally made items as possible – prints, cards, lamp shades, cushions, jewellery, hair accessories, mugs, tea towels, candles and a lot more. And ALL profits go to fighting cancer.
- Rock Pop Candy: your one stop shop for traditional sweets, American candy, and goodies from around the world. Food and drink gifts, hampers, stocking fillers, teacup crackers, retro decorations and gifts. Plus more!
Gifts that do good
This year as well as trying to shop local, the plan is to give gifts that can do some good. Last Christmas Women Aloud HQ made a baby step by not posting any presents! Poor form some might say but they received a picture of said presents to prove of their existence. And (1) it meant I arranged to see all those people post-Christmas to catch up and do belated present giving. And (2) the money I would’ve spent on postage went instead to the Crisis Christmas campaign (I gave more as well because I was so happy to avoid the festive Post Office trauma). If you’re interested in the Crisis campaign you give £22.32 to reserve a place for one homeless person this Christmas. They’ll get access to a shower, clean clothes, three hot meals including Christmas dinner, a health check, treatment from a doctor, optician and dentist; and an introduction to ongoing training and support. Shelter also do something similar asking for donations to help the 120,000 children in Britain that will be homeless or living in hostels with strangers this Christmas.
There are lots of ways to buy gifts that do good. Here are just a couple of ideas…
You could get your homeware presents from Aerende – a social enterprise where all of the products are made by people facing social challenges. Founded by Emily Mathieson in her Hertfordshire home; Aerende is an online shop with a beautiful collection of high quality yet ethical homewares – with every purchase directly supporting and providing opportunities for the people that make the products.
Or how about giving a new lease of life to second-hand and buy from your local charity shop? St Albans Oxfam Book Shop sell advent calendars, Christmas cards, small gifts, barely used books and vinyl records, as well as Oxfam’s life-changing gifts. Called Oxfam Unwrapped you choose a gift that helps people in poverty. Gifts range from £5-£25 with your money being used to buy soap, mosquito nets, goats; to plant an allotment; to provide mother and baby care or refugee support. If you have more to spend then £25-£50 will pay for solar energy or safe water for 50 people, or it can help with projects to end violence against women.
Donate to a local charity or community project
If you can’t buy local or support a social enterprise but you want to do something to help your community; how about donating instead to one of these local charities…
- Centre 33: drop-in centre where homeless and disadvantaged people in the St Albans community can socialise and enjoy a free meal in a friendly, welcoming environment. This Christmas consider donating clothes (men’s clothes are more in demand) or sleeping bags. Or volunteer to help at the Centre over Christmas and New Year. If you’d like to donate or register as a volunteer please contact Centre 33.
- Emmaus St Albans: this charity provides the homeless with housing and meaningful work. During November, they have a winter appeal for clean/nearly new: rucksacks or holdalls; hats, gloves, scarves; men’s jumpers, t-shirts, trousers, waterproof jackets; sleeping bags, hot drink flasks, dried foods, blankets. Then in December the filled rucksacks will be delivered to the homeless in the area. Visit the Emmaus Facebook page for drop off details.
- Project Shoebox St Albans: donate new or barely used toiletries/cosmetics to women staying in the St Albans refuge over Christmas. Please put items into a festively wrapped shoebox. Visit the Project Shoebox Facebook page for more details on the type of items needed and drop off information (collecting until end of November).
- St Albans and District Foodbank: donate a shoebox for any age; please clearly label who the box is for i.e. boy aged 5, teenage girl, elderly woman. Foodbank volunteers will be collecting in Tesco’s (St Peters Street, St Albans) on 1st/2nd/3rd December. Boxes can contain little gifts and toiletries – anything that’s age appropriate. Visit the Foodbank Facebook page for more information.
- St Albans Kids in Refuge: providing presents for children that will spend Christmas in refuge. All gifts have now been donated but selection boxes and hamper items are still needed. Last day for donations is 11th December. Join the St Albans Kids in Refuge Facebook group for more details.
A long post I admit, so thanks for staying until the end.
If you’re a woman with a business, I’ll be doing more ‘support local women’ features next year so please get in touch to tell me what you do. And if you’re involved in a charity or a community project, please let me know so we can help spread the word. You can email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading and I hope you decide to join us to #lovelocal this Christmas. x