It’s 11.35am on this day they call ‘Black Friday’. Now a yearly milestone first created in the US and each year gathering more press and hysteria over here.
I woke up this morning to pictures of people raiding the Tesco’s sales isles in a desperate plea for anything discounted. Elbows, fists and fury flighting their way to the front and despite the television cameras naming and shaming them in real time, no one there gave a shit.
But it’s easy to see Black Friday as a manufactured retailer’s dream come true. Easy because that’s exactly what it is. It is for all product sellers what Father’s Day is for Hallmark. A simple, well marketed and emotionally viral psychological trick to kick start Christmas spending. But I don’t hate that.
There’s two sides to the gifting transaction and the people outside on the high streets and inside filling their e-carts today aren’t people mindlessly consuming for their own consumption’s sake, they’re teeing up their opportunity to give. Unwrapping the latest plastic flashy thing and thrusting it straight armed above your head as if it were baby Jesus newly delivered – that’s all well and good. But I challenge you to look back on your Christmas present past and wonder who really wins when something is given from one person to another. Was it you, plastic flashy Jesus thing aloft? Or might it have been your Mum or Dad, across the room, smiling within and together at your happiness?
That’s the bit I want to celebrate. The giving bit. On a day when every nook and cranny of the media pokes at our seeming desire to consume, I want to nurture your desire to give.
Here’s a list of Christmas related giving opportunities. There’s a mix of fun and worthiness and if there’s any you’d like to add to the list, add it in the comments or drop me an e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. REDDIT’S SECRET SANTA
In 2013, 85,000 in 120 countries took part in Reddit’s Secret Santa. It’s awesome. If history’s anything to go by, you could be buying for (or being bought for by – but that’s not really in line with the theme of this article) Bill Gates, Bear Grylls or Shaquille O’Neal. To take part this year though you only have until the end of this weekend….
2. CHRISTMAS SHOEBOXES
The Trussell Trust take shoeboxes of gifts donated by people in the UK and send them out to Bulgaria for people who need them most. Last year (2013) they gave 7,239 boxes and this year they’re hoping to do much much more. Here’s a little video
3. MAKE-A-WISH CHRISTMAS CARDS
Here’s a small and easy way to help a wisher’s wish via the Make A Wish Foundation. Buy your Christmas cards from the link above and the money raised will go towards doing just that.
4. DONATE A PRESENT TO GREAT ORMAND STREET HOSPITAL
GOSH are always looking for gifts in kind for their patients. They’ve got some suggestions on their website both in terms of what their 0 to 18 year old patients might like and making considerations for storage shortages and risks of infection.
5. CHANGE A LIFE FOR CHRISTMAS
Centre Point have a scheme where you can buy gifts or gift boxes for London’s homeless. Gifts you can buy include a Christmas meal, accommodation, a health check and so much more. Such an easy way to make a difference.
6. OXFAM UNWRAPPED
Ever thought about buying someone a goat? A goat like this one? Here’s your chance.
7. ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS GIFTS
The Children’s Society have a programme similar to those mentioned above. But what I like about this one is that you can gift some amazing experiences – outings, parties and so on. Cost ranges from 7 quid to 60.
8. INSPIRED GIFTS
Inspired Gifts is an initiative run by Unicef. There’s a huge amount of health related gifts that you can choose from.
9. GOOD GIFTS
From mosquito nets to rare vegetables there’s something for everyone here – it just so happen that each gift is ‘good’ in a worldly sense too.
10. ADOPT AN ANIMAL
Here’s one for the animal lovers amongst you. Choose from Snow Leopards, Polar Bears, Adelie Penguins and more. The perfect socially conscious and sometimes fluffy Christmas present.
Any I’ve missed that you want to see on this list? Drop me a comment or email (email@example.com) and I’ll get it added.