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4 ways to make this Christmas festive - without any presents.

Let me tell you about my best Christmas experience.

Believe it or not, it had nothing to do with my husband FINALLY getting my hints about that Chanel fragrance I’d been obsessing over. As much as I love luxury and me-time, my favourite Christmas experience was about the time that I’d given back to the community in some way.

Many years ago, I volunteered at a gift-wrapping bar at a local shopping centre. Sadly, it was not a bar where you could order a fancy cocktail while handsome bartenders wrapped your gifts. Sorry. Instead, I spent hours wearing an ugly apron as I wrapped presents for strangers.

Carla and her husband. Image: supplied.

I volunteered to help a group of incredible senior citizens, who were wrapping customers’ presents for a gold coin donation. We used gorgeous paper and ribbons, and tried to make each gift look as special as possible and the money would go to a charity that supported children in need. Even though my feet ached at the end of each day, I felt so satisfied to know that in some way I’d been able to help those less fortunate than myself. I may not be able to build houses or even lead a camping trip, but you know what? I can wrap presents like a boss, and I was glad I had helped out in my own way.

So if you’re after a similar feel-good Christmas spirit, look no further. I’ve covered some great initiatives below. And yes, I will wrap your presents for you if you ask me nicely.

Support a good cause.

I used to work in a bakery and at the end of the day we’d have to throw out all of the unsold food. Appalled customers would come by and say, “Can’t you give that food to someone who needs it?” The sad reality was that no-one was available to collect the food in a van and then drop it off. That’s why OzHarvest is such a genius charity.

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They’re an Aussie “food rescue” charity, who collect perishable food donations and then deliver it to those who need it most. Woolworths have partnered with OzHarvest, which means that simply doing your grocery shopping at Woolies is helping out vulnerable people, as Woolworths will donate any excess fresh food to the hungry and homeless. If you love the idea of OzHarvest, you can also donate in various ways. Whether it’s food, time or money, OzHarvest would be more than happy to hear from you.

"Woolworths will donate any excess fresh food to the hungry and homeless." Image via iStock.

Give to someone who needs it.

The Smith Family has a long history with Christmas. In 1922, five anonymous businessmen generously gave toys to orphans on Christmas Eve and their small gestures sparked the great work that The Smith Family continue to do today for disadvantaged children. The Smith Family still love to give presents to children at Christmas time – but they need Santa’s helpers to make it all happen. Consider volunteering with The Smith Family this year, to help prepare, organise and deliver Christmas gifts to families. You’ll definitely be helping to make someone’s Christmas a little brighter and happier.

Have Christmas Eve drinks for friends without families.

Special holidays like Christmas can be especially hard if your family are not around. It seems like everyone else is having fun with their rellies – everyone except for you. Well, why not catch up with your buddies for some pre-Christmas, grown-up fun? Invite everyone – including that weird guy in the cubicle next to you - over after 8pm, so that everyone arrives already fed and happy. I love to play the hostess with the mostest by whipping up my signature fruit punch.

The awesome thing is that the punch is just whatever fancy fruit juice (think lychee, guava, pineapple) and ginger ale I can find at Woolworths, mixed in with some champagne or rum. Too easy – and delicious. Pick up some adorable, disposable party cups from Woolies to make your Christmas Eve party truly festive.

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Special holidays like Christmas can be especially hard if your family are not around. Image: iStock.

Sing Christmas carols in public.

It doesn’t matter what you sound like, people LOVE Christmas carols. How do I know this? Well, I’ve volunteered my vocal chops at many a church and outdoor event, and people always enjoy expressing their Christmas spirit through song. And believe me, my singing voice was once described as resembling the wail of a “dying dog”, so if I can make people smile, so can you.

Christmas can actually be about giving, and not crazed Christmas crowds and stress. If you have that community spirit, it’s easy to feel merry.

How do you spread Christmas cheer?

Speaking of Christmas cheer, here are our favourite Christmas movies.

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