12 Ways of Giving This Christmas

As the end of another crazy Christmas period full of industry parties, awards and corporate gifting draws to a close,  we are sharing our top ways to give back this festive season.

Using inspiration from some of our clients and industry friends, as well as sharing some of the initiatives we have in place at Unicorn, we have pulled together the ‘12 Ways of Giving This Christmas,” in the hopes of inspiring as much of the industry as possible to give back - not only over the festive season but the whole year round.

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1 - Volunteer with local charities
Here at Unicorn, our chosen local charities are Crisis and Evolve Housing, and we work with them throughout the year, especially at Christmas, to volunteer our time. This volunteering can take the form of a few helping hands at a ‘soup kitchen’, or collecting donations in town as a group sings festive carols. Most of these things can be done over a lunch time - so everyone can spare an hour or so.

2 - Advent calendars
Once just for children, the popularity of more and more elaborate advent calendars has grown over the past few years. With that, so has the need for more items at food banks, and this is where giving an advent calendar comes in. Collectively or individually, the office collects 24 items of tinned or packet goods that can be donated to a local food bank or collection point to share with the less fortunate.

3 - Coats and warm clothing
The UK homelessness problem is known by charities to be much bigger than official government figures suggest, and while some people are able to get to shelters, others aren’t so fortunate. If everyone in your office donated just one coat or item of warm clothing that they no longer need, it could make a big difference to those in your local community.

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4 - Collect toiletries to share with local missions
As event professionals, sometimes we travel so much we don’t notice the little things that would mean a lot to others, for example the free toiletries in a hotel bathroom or the exhibition swag. At Unicorn we bring back all toiletries we don’t use on trips and share them with local missions.

Hotel hack: the sooner you put them in your suitcase, the sooner the hotel replenish them, the more you have to give.

5 - Offer work experience where additional help is needed
The busy season often means a lot of us are at capacity, but while an extra pair of hands may not make sense for just a few days in an office environment, extra hands on site for a few days are always super helpful. Local charities, particularly those helping people to come back from sleeping rough, are often looking for ways to get their group into semi-regular work and routine. Offering this opportunity could be a great way to help them do so.

6 - Help a local charity with their Christmas party
Quite simply: with all of our industry knowledge and connections, we could help so many charities to create Christmas parties they may not have thought was possible on a budget.

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7 - Put your surplus catering to work
We all know the amount of food waste that can occur post event is shocking if not managed correctly and hopefully we are all making steps to reduce this before we get onsite. However, sometimes it cannot be helped. In this situation, we like to offer the food we can to others. Initiatives such as Plan Zheroes can help you to distribute your food and beverage surplus to those in the local area that need it.

8 - Purchase event props from local charity shops
Sometimes at Unicorn, we are asked to find the most obscure things for set design - and while Amazon largely has our back, we decided our budget could go further if we tried to source some of these items from local thrift stores.

Not only does our budget go further in the literal sense of ‘more for our money’, but it is invested back into our community with longer lasting effects we don’t even have sight of.

9 - Collect the ‘free gifts’
Ah Christmas, the season of the ‘free gift with purchase’. Instead of keeping this haul of mini freebies for yourself, potentially in a drawer that never sees the light of day, why not collect them and donate them as an office? So many charities are looking for small gifts and gift sets, a donation no matter the size will be very well received.

10 - Use fundraising to purchase toys
Of course children’s charities and hospitals are looking for donations all year round, but in the run up to Christmas, as you might imagine, the need for toys and games is much higher. Additionally, any spare notebooks or stationary you have lying around post event could also be donated, as children with an interest in arts or writing will really appreciate them.

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11 - Hold an office wide bake off and open ‘coffee morning’
Everyone loves a little competition, and even more so if it ends with cake. You can either hold an open coffee morning in your office with people donating to taste the bakes, or head to your local chosen charity with all of your cakes to give them a welcome break (and ask them to decide who the winner is)!

12 - Start an annual donation or GoFundMe page
Throughout the year, your office can undergo various methods of fundraising to collect money for a charity/charities and donate the total the end of the year. Not everyone is into mud runs or sponsored silences - so this allows everyone to get involved when it works for them!

So there we have it, 12 Ways of Giving. Do you implement any of these already? Is there anything else you think we haven’t considered? Let us know, and happy holidays!

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Elena Clowes