December has arrived and amongst shopping for presents, holiday films and over indulging on those delicious mince pies until your jeans are too tight (we’ve all been there) the Christmas countdown commences. Beyond the festivities, this season of goodwill brings endless possibilities for you to set aside your own ambitions or worries in order to contribute to the lives of others around you. From helping out at a local soup kitchen to visiting elderly people in need of companionship there are plenty of ways to do something good. This year we thought we’d introduce a few more options into your list of choices, so here are our top 10 ways to make a difference this Christmas and have an impact long after you’ve put away the decorations.

1. Swap your coffee for one that makes a difference on average Brits spend over £2,000 a year on their coffee and as the winter coats come out and the Christmas cups appear in stores you know you’re going to splash out on a seasonal special. However, there is a way you can treat yourself to that gingerbread latte and know that the money you’re spending is contributing to something more important. Social Enterprise coffee shops are opening all over the UK and even some of the more popular chains are putting systems in place so that their profits contribute to projects all over the world. You don’t have to change your daily routine, just make sure you’re handing your hard-earned cash over to someone who will do something good with it.

2. Send cards that will keep giving long after Christmas dayit could be anything from a quick ‘seasons greetings’ to a family update but either way, we all love to share the Christmas spirit. E-cards might be the future (saving the planet) but for some, nothing can replace receiving a card that you can display on your mantelpiece and there’s nothing more personal than a handwritten message. If this is something you can relate to you can make a simple switch and find cards where the profits will help a charity or cause close to your heart. If you’re lost for choice, our partners at Challengers offer four different designs with 100% of proceeds going to their projects.

3. Hold a fundraiser for your favourite charity or cause you don’t need to still be at school to enjoy a Christmas-themed event, it’s a great way to get individuals on board to work as a community. Whether your skills lie in baking or your creativity comes in other forms, individuals of all ages can participate so why not get a group together to organise a fundraiser for a charity or cause that you care about. You’ll be raising awareness, creating an opportunities for this without family or friends to feel part of something and raising money in the process.

4. Subscribe to contract cookies, or give them as a gift the Cookie Bar is a social enterprise café in Hindhead and part of our portfolio of enterprises. Their subscription cookies include a variety of flavours in creative packaging delivered straight to your door (or office) every month. 100% of profits are reinvested back into our projects where 50% goes towards Stepping Stones School for students with mild to moderate disabilities. As well as the monetary contribution, the Cookie Bar offers a safe environment for students to participate in work experience. Brighten your office up for the New Year with these delicious treats or even send them as a present to a friend – it’s the gift that just keeps giving.

5. Share your skills“everybody is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will lead its whole life believing its stupid.” That’s right we all have our strengths and weaknesses so why not share some of those strengths with a charity or organisation that needs it the most. It might be something that you find straightforward but to another individual it could be task they procrastinate from because it takes forever. It might be a few hours a week, or an afternoon teaching another individual some of your knowledge, either way you could be freeing some of their time for them to concentrate on doing what they’re best at.

6. Support PEAS’ fundraiser – our partners at PEAS have launched a Christmas appeal to support the launch of their new secondary school in Zambia. Two thirds of children don’t have access to secondary education so your donation (however large or small) will have an impact on the next generation. As a big thank you for your contribution they will send supporters of the campaign photos and regular updates from PEAS Kampinda Secondary School during its first year. If you would like to help out, their appeal closes on Sunday 10th December so you’d better get in there quick.

7. Volunteer at the Cookie Bar or on the Bus – our converted Route Master double decker bus has been the perfect extension of the Cookie Bar and has proved a huge hit out and about at events. For those located within close proximity of our flagship store in Hindhead, volunteering your time could be a great way to help out and share your skills. For those further afield, keep an eye out for new events that the bus is attending – we could use your help on there too and that’s not just in the run up to Christmas!

8. Help out at a local event if you’re living in the Guildford are and you’ve got a few hours to spare our friends at Challengers could do with some help. They are still looking for some volunteers for their Farnham street collection on December 9th from 3-5pm. Head along enjoy some mince pies and lots of orange Christmas fun! If you are interested please email louisemoffat@disability-challengers.org or call 01483 230 060.

9. Sign up for a Habitat build It might not be something that you complete before Christmas but sometimes taking the jump and making a commitment to something that will make a difference in the future is even better. Our partners at Habitat offer a range of opportunities to get involved in their activities in a hands on way so take a look at their website and know that the effort you put in could change somebody’s future.

10. Treat yourself to a holiday you have read this correctly, we thought we would save the hidden gem of our top 10 suggestions until last. Hotel Birgkarhaus is situated in the Austrian mountains at the foot of Hochkonig, the second largest ski area of the Alps and the perfect spot for a winter break. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie keen to hit the slopes or looking for a more relaxing break, Hotel Birgkarhaus has it all. The best part (aside from the views) is that as part of our social enterprise portfolio, 100% of profits are reinvested back into social causes so you can spoil yourself knowing that your contribution is making a difference.

So there you have it, our top 10 list of ways that you can make a difference not just this Christmas but well into 2018 and beyond.