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A man selling magazines from the Big Issue.
Photograph: Mark Munro Photography

12 ways of giving: How to spread some cheer this holiday season

Giving can be just as rewarding as getting, so we've rounded up several ways that you can spread some cheer over Christmas

Adena Maier
Written by
Adena Maier

The classic Christmas carol '12 Days of Christmas' is all about the joy of receiving gifts over the holidays, but what about the joy of giving? The festive season has arrived, and for many, it's a time of frantically sorting out presents and sneakily trying to guess what's been left for you under the tree. For others, it can be one of the hardest times of the year. 

That's why the Time Out team has organised this list of 12 ways you can donate your time, money or supplies to organisations and individuals in need over the holiday season. Whether you're keen to donate blood, purchase gifts from local shops or valuable organisations or simply spread awareness about an issue over the holidays, your contribution will be greatly appreciated. 

Looking to bring some festive cheer into your home? Here are all of the best Christmas tree farms in Melbourne.

Many of us are lucky enough to relate to the memory of feeling unbridled joy while opening up presents filled with toys around Christmastime. Sadly, there are many children who miss out on this opportunity due to various hardships. For more than 30 years, Variety - the Children's Charity has put on a kid's Christmas party for thousands of children and their parents or carers. Sadly, the party will not be taking place this year due to the risk of Covid-19. Instead, supporters can select and donate the money for science, art or building toys and include a kind message for a handwritten card. You can also volunteer to be part of the fleet that will deliver these toys to children and their families this Christmas. Visit the Variety website for more details on how to donate or volunteer your time. 

To volunteer, you must have a valid Working with Children Check and create a profile on the BeCollective volunteer platform.

Buy a subscription to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Theatre Company or the Australian Ballet
Photograph: Supplied/Pierre Toussaint

Buy a subscription to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Theatre Company or the Australian Ballet

Our arts community has suffered through nearly two years of disrupted, cancelled and postponed performances, and while many were able to put together virtual offerings, they could still use our help. Ensure that we all can access delightful ballets, moving plays and musicals and incredibly orchestral performances by purchasing a subscription or season package to the Melbourne Symphony OrchestraMelbourne Theatre Company or the Australian Ballet. They make fabulous gifts (even to yourself!) and are a great way to ensure you catch all the best cultural offerings of the season.


You're probably familiar with the Big Issue, a social enterprise that is best known for putting together a magazine that those experiencing homelessness and disadvantage sell on the streets of the CBD. This low-risk income opportunity allows vendors to purchase the magazines to sell at double the price, and any unsold magazines can be exchanged or refunded. 

The Big Issue 2022 calendar or a gift subscription to the magazine both make great gift options that also provide income and paid work opportunities for individuals experiencing homelessness. In mid-December, you'll also be able to purchase a Christmas edition of the Big Issue filled with messages from vendors to customers. Head to the Big Issue website to purchase any of these options or simply keep an eye out for vendors when exploring the CBD.

Give the gift of hope to people with cancer this Christmas by donating to the Peter Mac Centre. This year, the face of the organisation's Christmas appeal is a patient named Zach who was diagnosed with a rare head and neck cancer at the age of 24. Zach endured a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy that successfully treated his cancer until its unfortunate return a decade later. He was told that the cancer spread to his lungs and was now stage 4, and due to the rarity of the cancer, there was no known way to cure it.

A gift to cancer research at Peter Mac this Christmas will help world-leading researchers discover new cures for patients like Zach. Head to the Peter Mac website to donate to the Christmas appeal.  


Did you know that one blood donation can save up to three lives? Blood is needed in Australia every 24 seconds for cancer patients, new mums, road accidents and more. Unfortunately, platelets only last for five days, so the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood needs some help avoiding shortages in its life-saving blood stocks during the holidays. Make a booking through the Red Cross website, by downloading the Donate Blood App or by ringing 13 14 95.

If you're sick of shopping for random knick-knacks for your loved ones, give them something far more meaningful by shopping clothing, puzzles, homewares and more from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. A full 100 per cent of the net proceeds from every sale goes directly towards helping fund the ARSC's programs, which provide assistance with food, housing, healthcare, legal aid, education and employment support to empower asylum seekers. The range includes products designed by refugee artists, who receive a fee as well as a per cent of future sales revenue. Shop with meaning and impact this Christmas through the ASRC website.


If you were looking to make a donation to a local food bank over the holidays, consider making a monetary contribution rather than shopping for pantry items to donate. According to Foodbank Victoria, the organisation doesn't have the capacity to have staff around to accept small, random food drop-offs over the holidays. On top of that, the Foodbank is able to secure discounts and deals unavailable to the general public and is also aware of what items the service has plenty of and which items are lacking. This means that money can be spent on closing any gaps in inventory and ensuring that every hamper going to someone in need is filled with all of the essentials. Head to the Foodbank Victoria website to make a donation and help ensure that no family is faced with an empty dinner table on Christmas.

If you love going to the theatre, consider supporting the Malthouse Theatre in Southbank on its journey to continue providing our community with bold and immersive theatre work. By donating $50 annually, you can become a Malthouse Mate and get early access to tickets for events before they go on sale to the public. If you're feeling extra generous, you can donate $250 annually and become a Malthouse Muse. This comes with heaps of perks, including getting first notice about all upcoming productions, a shoutout for your support on the website and in the building foyer, and invitations to exclusive events. Head to the Malthouse Theatre website to make a donation, either in your name or as a gift to a friend.


The folks over at Zoos Victoria are always hard at work to conserve Australia's wildlife for future generations to learn about and enjoy. If this is a mission that speaks to you, there are several ways that you can assist Zoos Victoria over the holidays. You can make a direct monetary donation that goes towards important conservation work, or you can adopt an animal for $15 a month receive an Animal Adopters pack in the mail that includes things like photos, details on the impact of your support and an annual birthday card. If you're hunting for gifts for loved ones, you can also purchase a tote bag or beaded jewellery through the website.

It's important that every single Australian is reading, learning, doing research, speaking up and donating to causes that work to minimise everyday injustices in our community. The Time Out Melbourne team has put together a list of charities and organisations that support Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and PoC voices around Australia and the world, along with links to donate or information on how you can take action. The organisations on the list work on issues ranging from providing legal services to Aboriginal people, working on climate justice issues, and raising money for care packs and social events. 


Did you know that after food and water, blankets are the most sought-after product by rough sleepers? To help meet this demand, Warren Tu and Kim Nguyen founded 300 Blankets in 2012. Since then, it's become one of the largest suppliers of blankets for people at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness in Melbourne. 

Today, the organisation has expanded its operations to include food delivery. At the moment, it is able to deliver around 60 nutritionally diverse food parcels every Saturday fortnight and hopes to expand the number of households it reaches by December. You can make a monetary donation to assist in this endeavour through the 300 Blankets website.

  • Restaurants

Although many venues are able to reopen their doors and serve dine-in customers again, it's going to be tough for them to make up for all of the lost revenue from lockdown. Help support some of Melbourne's most important eateries by dining out over the holiday period. If you're on the hunt for a friend who seems to have it all, why not give them a fun dining experience? You can find our handpicked list of the best restaurants in Melbourne here to help you figure out where you want to go. 

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