Putting community back into Christmas
The festive season can be about more than just family, presents and food.
The streets and shops are diabolical and full of people and traffic.
Meanwhile your in-tray is filling up faster than you can empty it before work wraps up for the year and the kids keep reminding you about Santa’s pending visit – not forgetting the sack load of expensive presents they hope he’ll be bringing.
Christmas can be one of the most financially and emotionally stressful times of the year but it can also be one of the most rewarding.
It doesn’t have to just focus on family, presents and too much food. It can also be a great time of year to think about the people around you, especially those who are less fortunate or alone with no-one to share their day with.
Stuck for Christmas ideas outside of the norm? Here are a few we’ve come up with.
Use Neighbourly.co.nz to organise a Christmas lights competition or to share details of which houses have the best displays in your neighbourhood.
Set up a family Christmas event for your street complete with a potluck Christmas meal, family games, a visit from Santa and gifts for each child. Maybe set up a picnic in your local park.
Spread the word and make sure your neighbours all pitch in and help with the set-up and packdown.
Organise a charity drive to give back to your community. Think about donating cans of food and Christmas grocery treats like candy canes and mince pies to the Salvation Army or a similar organisation; wrapping presents to give to Women’s Refuge, or donating your time at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Get your whole neighbourhood involved.
Offer to look after your neighbours’ kids so the adults can head to their Christmas work functions or complete their lastminute shopping without having their children underfoot.
Dress up as Santa and drop anonymous gifts off at your neighbours’ doors or in their letterboxes. Don’t forget the Santa sack, a resilient smile and a lot of Ho Ho Hos.
Encourage your kids to write Christmas cards to all of your neighbours.
Know a household that’s new to your neighbourhood, or someone down the road who doesn’t have any family? Invite them over for a Christmas lunch or dinner.
Host a DIY workshop during the school holidays, and send the kids home with homemade Christmas decorations to pop on their trees and gifts to give to their families and friends.
Set up a communal Christmas tree at the entrance to your street, complete with solar fairy lights and decorations donated by the whole neighbourhood. Nominate a family to take the decorations down once the festive season is over and store them until next year (unless you don’t mind them all glowing in June). Hand the torch over to another family next year.
Offer to help out with a Christmas production or carol service at your local church or school.
Ask for gift contributions from businesses in your neighbourhood, then organise a ‘‘12 Days of Christmas’’ event where every household on your street has the chance to win a great prize.
Ever thought about organising a Christmas street party – complete with Santa?