Spread a little charitable cheer before New Year

This is the best bit of the Christmas season. The time for meeting up for meals and drinks with friends, doing some Christmas shopping, decorating the tree and planning what delicious things to eat on the big day itself. The blissful couple of weeks before pressure all gets too much and Christmas meltdowns ensue - fairy lights mysteriously broken, crying bouts in the loos, panic buying and worrying about gout. And that's even before we take the malignant influence of the omi-Grinch into consideration.

It's time to pause a moment and do Christmas in a bit more of a considered way. We all want to think of others at this time and sometimes it can get forgotten in the mad rush. Here are a few ideas for combining Christmas prep with helping others out.

Read on for a list ways to support local charities this Christmas. 

Prints At Forever Manchester Pop Up Shop
Prints at the Forever Manchester pop-up shop Image: Forever Manchester

Buy gifts at the Forever Manchester Pop-Up Shop

The perfect place to find something special for the Manc in your life. Artworks, cards and other gifty bits are available at the Forever Manchester Pop-Up Shop, located in the Corn Exchange (so handy after a quick slip round the ice rink). Prints by Stanley Chow nestle next to candles from Manchester Candle Makers, while Worker Bee coffee is for sale alongside themed mugs. We especially like the 30 Artists Give It Up range of artworks. Trevor Johnson, the man responsible for creating some of Manchester’s most iconic graphic design for over four decades, worked tirelessly during the first lockdown to recruit 30 of the best artists, designers and photographers from across Greater Manchester to select a piece of their artwork and "Give It Up" to auction for Forever Manchester, raising an incredible £8,000 for community groups across Greater Manchester.

Forever Manchester Pop-Up Shop, Corn Exchange, Fennel Street, open until 19 December or online

Stan The T Rex Credit Manchester Musem Jpg
Stan the T-rex will be getting his festive gear on for a selfie Image: Manchester Museum

Take a Santa selfie with Stan

We reported the Manchester Museum would be closing its doors for a year while it undergoes a major refurbishment. However, for one day only this festive period, you can hang with Stan the T-Rex - but you have to bring him a present. On 7 December Manchester Museum's Fossils Gallery will be open for one day only and all you have to do is drop off a donation for the museum's Christmas Gift Appeal. They are looking for unwrapped gifts including toys, books and chocolate (check the link for more ideas). You will need to enter the Fossils Gallery via the University of Manchester archway and turn right - and don't forget the shop is still open so it's a great chance to pick up an extra pressie and support the museum too.

Stan's Secret Santa, Fossils Gallery, Manchester Museum 

2019 07 11 Heart And Parcel Recipe
The Heart & Parcel Recipe Book Image: Confidentials

Cook up a Christmas breakfast

Old Trafford organisation The Big Breakfast puts on a pay-as-you-feel community breakfast every second Saturday of each month with all proceeds going to St Bride's Destitution Project, which supports refugees During a hiatus for you know what, the team decided to put their efforts into releasing their very own cookbook - Eggs, Beans and Dreams. With over 75 recipes from OT residents, fave Manchester cafes and local chefs, there is sure to be something to inspire a really special Christmas breakfast (it's all veggie BTW). A cookbook is always a reliable pressie and we can also highly recommend the first Heart & Parcel Cookbook (the second one is on the way) for the cook in your life. Coincidentally both projects were photographed by Rebecca Lupton (she is a project organiser at The Big Breakfast) so they look lovely too.

Pre-order the Eggs, Beans and Dreams cookbook or support the fundraiser for Heart & Parcel

Society Manchester Slap & Pickle burger
Slap & Pickle is asking you to slap a little extra on your lunch bill Image: Confidentials

Donate while you dine

This one is perhaps too easy - by simply adding a voluntary £1 to diners’ bills during the festive months, select Greater Manchester restaurants will be raising funds for local charitable projects that help those living on the streets and in unsuitable accommodation throughout the festive season with the StreetSmart project. Slap & Pickle at Society has also run with a similar idea, adding a donate button to till in each of its sites. Additionally, a portion of the revenue from each of the items from the Christmas menu (and who could say no to an All I want For Christmas Burger?) will be donated to Zarach, a charity that aims to eliminate bed poverty in children - meaning kids who don't have their own beds but are forced to sleep on floors or sofas. Slap and Pickle have pledged to raise enough to buy 100 beds this December.

Slap & Pickle, Society, 100 Barbirolli Square M2 3BD

Eat Well Manchester Lockdown Meal Kit Smoked Salmon Bagels
Smoked salmon forms part of the EatWellMcr hamper Image: Confidentials

Indulge with a hamper

Eat Well Mcr powered people through lockdown with delicious meal kits that saved many a home chef from kitchen despair while also helping local businesses support themselves and providing meals for those in need. While the marketplace has been quiet of late, the gang are all back together this Christmas with the forthrightly named Eat Well Do Good hampers. With more festive greatest hits than a Mariah Carey Christmas Special, treats include cured meats from the Butcher's Quarter, smoked salmon from Manchester Smokehouse, cheese from Chorlton Cheesemongers and more (veggie version also available). From £75.

Available from EatWellMcr Marketplace for delivery on Christmas Eve. 

Homeless Man With Dog Under A Bridge In Manchester Credti Phil Inhgam And Lifeshare
Your skills could really help someone this Christmas Image: Phil Ingham/Lifeshare

Lend your skills to Lifeshare

Lifeshare runs a unique seven-day provision that brings people sleeping rough indoors for freshly cooked meals, hot showers, warm clothes, medical care and companionship. The project is currently looking for volunteers with specialist skills like barbers, nurses, nail technicians, optometrists, dentists, podiatrists and veterinarians. The team also needs assistance serving meals, welcoming guests, handing out supplies, wiping down tables - you know the drill. Volunteers go through a full induction which takes place in December so sign up now.

Visit the Lifeshare website to sign up or to browse the shop

Chritmas Trees In The Window At Tribeca Credit Baubles 4 Beds
Christmas trees at Tribeca Image: Baubles 4 Beds

Get baublicious

Papier macho artist Frank Dowd decided to use his skills to bring together art and his local community by inviting school children to create hundreds of decorations with Baubles 4 Beds. The festive decorations are on display on trees across the region including Manchester Cathedral, Salford Cathedral and Tribeca in the village. Members of the public can take home a decoration and donate while they do. The proceeds go to the longstanding Manchester charity Coffee 4 Craig.

See Baubles 4 Beds for locations

Manchester Cathedral Interior
Manchester Cathedral will host candlelight carols for Henshaws Image: Confidentials

Do some carolling

The tantalising named Beer and Carols at Sacred Trinity promises an old-fashioned singalong with plenty of festive favourites and real ale - the very opposite of a silent night. Tickets are free but drinks are not and all the proceeds go to the Booth Centre. Probably a little bit more sedate but no less powerful will be Carols By Candlelight celebration at Manchester Cathedral hosted by sight loss charity Henshaws, with an adult ticket from £10.

Beer and Carols is at by Sacred Trinity Church is on 12 December from 7pm. Carols by Candlelight is on 16 December from 7pm at Manchester Cathedral.

2020 10 23 Mustard Tree
Mustard Tree are putting together essentials this Christmas Image: Confidentials

Donate, donate, donate

Ok you had good intentions but you haven't done as much as you would have liked. While we are not suggesting you can salve your conscience with cash, if you've been disorganised then charities can still benefit. Here are some of our favourites: the Christmas appeal at Wood Street Mission which gets together presents and essentials for families in need - selection boxes are very welcome; Fill a Crate for Christmas with Mustard Tree which puts together food boxes to makes sure no one goes hungry over the festive season (drop off goods at its Ancoats base) or help Andy give everyone a bed for the night. The GM Mayor's Charity is having a push to get a thousand beds funded over the Christmas season. Any additional funds raised will go towards supporting A Bed Every Night which runs all year round. And of course we always like to support We Love Mcr, a charity dedicated to supporting the City of Manchester's communities and young people.

Read now: The 10 best Christmas dine-at-home experiences in Manchester

Read again: Christmas gifts for foodies from Manchester indies

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