If you want to spread some cheer and lift the spirits of those around you, here are our favourite winter warming activities to try this year!
1) Host a Big Lunch at Christmas
Share food, friendship and festive fun with your community this winter by hosting a Big Lunch at Christmas! It’s a busy time of year, and for some it can feel quite lonely, so taking the time to say hello to a neighbour with a mince pie in hand, or inviting people to join a pot luck party where everyone brings a dish is a great way to keep connected over the festive period.
Every June, The Big Lunch brings millions of people together to share friendship, food and fun for the UK’s annual celebration for neighbours and communities. It’s a simple idea that has a lasting positive impact on those who participate, this year we’re encouraging people to join in with The Big Lunch at Christmas too, to celebrate our connections and keep our communities cosy.
We've got everything you need to get started, from inspiration and advice to event planning tools and promotional materials.
2) Light up your windows
Spread some joy from your windows by creating magical silhouettes using tissue paper, sparkles and anything else you have around the house. You can even team up with others in your neighbourhood to create a Living Advent Calendar and enjoy discovering all the displays together.
3) Share festive food and drinks!
We've put together a list of our favourite festive food and drinks! These cost-effective, crowd-pleasing recipes will go down a treat. Share them amongst your neighbours or bake them ready for your Big Lunch at Christmas! Each recipe serves plenty and includes time and energy saving hacks such as microwaveable cupcakes (yes, really!) and delicious vegan and gluten-free options too.
4) Make willow lanterns
These lanterns are really impressive and effective but aren't as tricky to make as you might think - read the instructions and just give it a go! Once you've mastered a pyramid, get creative and try different shapes and sizes, lanterns with curves, and lanterns with finer details. Pop them outside on a dry evening to add some sparkle and magic to your neighbourhood, or get together with your neighbours to celebrate with a lantern parade!
5) Say hello
Times are tough at the moment, but a little kindness can go a very long way. Say hello to people out and about, smile and ask your neighbours how they are or if they need anything. It's amazing how much difference a kind word or thoughtful gesture can make for people who are isolated or lonely.
6) Try a Reverse Advent Challenge
The Reverse Advent Challenge turns Christmas consumer mayhem on its head, by encouraging us to stop buying, and think about what we already have, to give away instead. Chances are, there are lots of things you own but no longer want or need, that someone else could put to good use.
Dig out as much stuff as you can, andspread some love locally, by giving 24 items away,one each day in the run up to Christmas. It could be anything fromold gift bags and unwanted presents that could be re-gifted, to children’s toys, clothes and furniture.
Use Nextdoor’s For Sale and Free pages, orshare your items on your local Facebook or WhatsApp groups. It’s a great way to de-clutter and meet new neighbours in the process, and if finding 24 things is too much, just join in as many days as you can throughout December!
7) Get in touch with someone you miss
Community doesn't just mean the people on your doorstep or in your everyday life. If there's someone you haven't caught up with in a while, why not pick up the phone or write them a message? You could even go old-school and send a letter! Checking in with your friends and loved ones can be enormously helpful for those struggling over the Christmas period.
8) Come together for some Christmas crafts or carols
Sometimes having something to do is the best way to bring people together and start a conversation. Host a festive crafts afternoon and get people making paper chains, lanterns, natural Christmas decorations and more. You can use existing and recycled materials so it doesn't need to break the bank! We've put together our favourite Christmas crafts - why not roll them out for your Big Lunch at Christmas?
If crafting isn't your thing, bring people together to sing some Christmas carols. You just need to print out or write down some lyrics and someone who's happy to take a lead!
People feel under increasing strain over Christmas - they may not be able to see loved ones, or might not feel they have people who care around them. There is lots we can do, simply having a chat and raising a smile with people who live nearby will increase the sense of community spirit, rekindling neighbourliness and could even help to alleviate someone's loneliness.
Peter Stewart, Chief Purpose Officer, Eden Project
Find support for your community
If you're looking to support your community, start a community initiative or just explore what other communities are doing, then visit our Community Support hub! It's got lots of advice on how to access extra help, ideas for getting started with projects and details of our network on the ground.