Volunteering at Christmas

Thinking about volunteering at Christmas? You're guaranteed to get into the spirit if you do. After all, the magic of Christmas is in giving. Corny? Yes, but also very true. From helping the homeless in your local community to sponsored carol singing, there's a Christmas opportunity out there for you. The Mix talks you through all of them.

A young woman is smiling. She is thinking about volunteering at Christmas. This is close-up image.

If the thought of shovelling your hundredth Yorkshire pudding into your mouth before lying on the sofa in a food-induced coma, dreaming about strangling your annoying relatives leaves you feeling unfulfilled and a little empty, why not look for Christmas Day volunteer opportunities?

“A lot of people are starting to take a stand against the commercialism of this time of year,” says Jennie Smith, volunteer manager for homeless charity Crisis. “The nice thing about volunteering at Christmas is there are lots of special, short-term opportunities to help people less fortunate. That way there doesn’t have to be a big commitment.”

So what’s on offer? 

Volunteer for The Mix at Christmas

Yep, straight in with the shameless self-promo. But we promise it’s for a worthwhile cause. 

Have a look at our volunteering opportunities and see if you can support young people this Christmas, either on the helpline (in-house or remotely) or within our digital community. It could be the start of an awesome volunteering journey heading into the new year! You’ll get to meet a tonne of different people and make a difference to someone’s day, week or even life. 

Help the homeless by volunteering at Christmas

Choosing to volunteer on Christmas Day is the one of the most popular decisions of the entire year. This means that opportunities are often filled weeks in advance. Unfortunately, there are still some areas of volunteering that get overlooked. For example, homeless charities struggle to fill their night shift slots. So if you really wanna be a Christmas angel you could consider helping out at a night shelter.

The festive season can be particularly hard and lonely for homeless people, and shelters are likely to be chocablock with people desperate to get the much-needed relief of a hot meal. General help is always welcome. This includes serving food, tidying up, and sorting through donations. At the same time it’s important not to forget that skilled help in hairdressing, dentistry, beauty therapy etc is what’s usually lacking.

Where can I find volunteering opportunities for the homeless at Christmas?

To get a list of organisations in your area we’d recommend contacting your local council. If that fails, then you could try one of the following:

  • Do-it is a volunteering database with hundreds of opportunities all over the country. You can select homelessness and housing and type in your postcode for organisations in your area.
  • Crisis run Christmas Centres in London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Coventry and Edinburgh. Usually, the charity has a tonne of guests and volunteers from 23-30 December. This means that they are open to accepting a high number of volunteers. You can apply online and book the shifts you want to do.
  • The Salvation Army offers support and friendship to vulnerable people all over the country. Check out their website to see if they could use your assistance over Christmas.

A simple Google search for ‘volunteering at Christmas near me’ will also do the trick. It’ll usually bring up lots of great opportunities to volunteer on Christmas Day, or sometime around then, in your local area.

Christmas carolling

Carolling. Is there any better way to feel festive than belting out ‘Gloooooo-ooooo-ooooo-oooo-oooo-RIA Hosanna in excelsis deo’? Thought not. Now imagine doing that AND raising money for charity. It’s like Christmas on steroids. So if you fancy vocalising your desperate need for figgy pudding, ring round local charities and ask if you can carol on their behalf. They’ll usually provide you with an official collecting tin and then you’re all set.  Now all that’s left to do is get chummy with everyone in your local community and sing for money. 

Tone deaf? Don’t worry. Local churches will most likely be hosting charity carol concerts during the festive period. To do this they’ll need volunteers to help sell tickets, seat people, and sell refreshments. If that sounds more appealing than having people slam the door once they hear your voice then just call up your local church for more info. Alternatively, you can check volunteering site Do-it.life to see if churches have advertised any opportunities.

Santa fun runs

For a small entry fee (usually around £10-20) you’ll usually get a Father Christmas suit to do a sponsored run in. The length of these runs vary from one mile (do-able) to 10 kilometres (might need a few reindeer to drag you along the finish line). If moving your body any more than necessary doesn’t mix well with your mince-pie food baby, then you can always volunteer to help run the event.

Back at it again with the self-promo BUTT… you can even run for The Mix! We tend to do a Santa run in London each year, although recently things have been a little disrupted due to covid. To find out when the next one is, make sure to keep an eye on our website.

Small things you can do

If you’re thinking: “That’s all super nice, but you know what? I really can’t be bothered to think about volunteering at Christmas near me. I LIKE binge-eating and watching the Queen’s speech. Can’t I just do something TINY to help whilst making sure that this nice tub of Quality Street gets finished before Christmas Day?” We hear you and we’ve got you covered. Simply: 

  • Pack a gift-wrapped shoebox full of nice things and send it off to a disadvantaged child. This can seriously make a difference if they’re going through a crisis at Christmas.
  • Shake a charity bucket by a supermarket till.
  • Buy charity Christmas cards instead of commercial ones.
  • Write a pick-me-up letter to someone wrongly imprisoned through Amnesty International.
  • Check out if there are any food banks in your area and make a Christmas donation.

Volunteering is for life, not just for Christmas

Yes, it’s bloody brilliant that you’re helping your fellow humans this Christmas. In fact, lots of people don’t even bother, so you’re already headed in the right direction. But why just Christmas? Homeless people don’t just stop being homeless once the festive season is over. Volunteers are needed year round, now more than ever. So if it felt good, why not consider volunteering more often?

As well as all the good, warm feelings it gives you, volunteering looks pretty damn good on your CV. Check Do-it for local opportunities and let the year-round joy commence.

Have you volunteered at Christmas? Share your experience on our discussion boards, we would love to hear from you. Check out the rest of The Mix’s volunteering resources here.

Next Steps

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Holly Bourne

Updated on 11-Mar-2022