Never mind carol singing and Christmas cards, our Cinnamon staff and Recommended Projects suggest some more unusual ways you can spread festive cheer and build community this Christmas. Who knows where a conversation over the festive period will lead in the months ahead.
1. Share the light
With the current craziness of Christmas, we’ve tried to simply remind our community of how it all started. We do this by buying some chocolate coins or tea lights, attaching a label worded as follows, then popping it on the doorsteps of our neighbours: “In the fourth century, a man (later known as St. Nicholas) secretly gave gifts to his neighbours to reflect something of the love he’d seen in the life of Jesus. We want to do the same thing today. Happy Christmas.”
Founder, Truth Be Told
Truth Be Told is an intergenerational project that brings joy, hope, and life to older adults in care homes and the community.
2. Care home gifts
Many care home residents do not have family or friends to give them a gift at Christmas, so we have had the joy of letting them know their local community is thinking of them. Last year we found out from the care homes in our area which residents were without family or friends, and created Christmas gift bags just for them. Such a simple and easy thing to do, and it meant so much to those who received them. We included things like toiletries, and bookmarks made by children from a local school.
Founder, Embracing Age
Embracing Age is a Christian charity working towards a world where older people are valued, connected, and full of hope, by combatting loneliness, mobilising volunteers, equipping churches and speaking out.
3. It starts with “hello”
Last year my wife and I were praying to know our neighbours better. We knew some neighbours well and others we knew nothing of. So, on 1 December, 20 of our closest neighbours and the newly-moved-in couple round the corner received a card from us. All relationships begin with an initial connection so how about reaching out to that neighbour you’ve only ever said hello to on bin day? In our experience, the hellos have now become waves and the conversations over the course of the year have been more frequent and more meaningful.
Bethany Christian Trust
Bethany Christian Trust is a national charity whose mission is to relieve the suffering and meet the long term needs of homeless and vulnerable people in Scotland.
4. Christmas hampers
In my church we have a debt centre and our tradition over the last few years has been to provide a Christmas hamper of really nice treats for the debt advice clients. The members of the congregation love to give financially to this and have a great time when we get together at the back of the church to pack the hampers and then arrange teams to go out and visit the clients to deliver them. I love it as it brings people together and it’s really nice to give and expect nothing in return. And it always does my heart good to see people blessed.
Community Money Advice
Community Money Advice is a national charity committed to supporting churches and community groups who have a passion to help people overcome their money problems.
5. Open lunch
Every year, well almost every, we celebrate Christmas in Kidderminster by inviting people to a turkey dinner. This begins with a chair-based exercise and after the meal this is followed by joyful carol singing. This year we are putting the event on over two lunchtimes to accommodate all the people who want to come and to keep everyone COVID safe. I love the sense of fun and peace of knowing that, for a number, this will be their only Christmas lunch.
Simply Limitless help people to improve their mental and physical health and support those who are most vulnerable in their community.
5. The big “switch-on!”
The first Christmas in our new home we watched with eager anticipation as boxes of lights and festive shapes appeared in our neighbour’s garden. The illuminations became a talking point in the street and my curious daughters were invited to join the neighbours to switch on the lights. Initially, it was just our two families. We then extended the invitation to a few more in the road, and then a few more – and so it grew. Now, the ‘annual switch on’ is a highlight of the festive period. It’s a chance to gather, check in on neighbours, make new friends, and build relationships.
Kate works in Cinnamon’s communication team. You’ll often find her hosting webinars or sending emails about anything to do with church-led social action.