Is it just me or did Christmas suddenly start creeping up on us again? Personally, as someone with a November birthday, I always find myself trying to keep Christmas at bay until I’ve at least blown out my candles. The struggle is futile.

Christmas shopping, for me, is stressful. In the inevitable fluster to find the perfect gifts, every year I ask myself, is this really what Christmas is about? Peace; joy; love; a saviour born to live among us; a message of hope in the darkness of our world. These are what Christmas is really about. But while I know it is not about the presents, I still feel compelled to buy them.

I’ve tried everything to counter commercialism at Christmas. One year I bought my brother a charity goat only to find that he was really disappointed that he couldn’t keep it in his own garden and that he’d have to go to Malawi to visit it! Maybe this year I’ll twin his toilet with one in Malawi for when he visits the goat. Joking aside, he loved the sentiment and charitable presents are gaining popularity and raising invaluable funds to support great work overseas. But they are not for everyone.

Luckily, this year, I’ve found a way to make my ordinary Christmas shopping do some giving on my behalf. Give as you Live allows you to shop with thousands of retailers and get the right price for your products whilst also raising a donation for your UK charity of choice at no extra cost to you, the consumer.

However charitable we want to be at Christmastime, we all enjoy giving and receiving gifts that we know our friends and family will love and find useful. That’s why Give as you Live is so brilliant. You can buy that book, CD, or jacket, that you know your brother, sister, mum or dad will absolutely adore with a clear conscience and good feeling about the charitable donation the retailer will make in response. You even get to choose the charity that you want to support. In my case, I’ve chosen Progressio.

Progressio’s development workers share their skills, expertise and experience to empower people to overcome poverty, marginalisation and many other difficulties. Over the years, I’ve supported Progressio, I’ve been inspired by Teclah Ponde, working with prisoners living with HIV in Zimbabwe, Karina Cuba, working to support women to improve their livelihoods and stand up to domestic abuse in the Dominican Republic. One woman Karina works with, Elena, said this about the garden Karina helped her to install:"The garden and the chickens have made life easier. We no longer need to buy expensive food from the market. We are growing lots of new vegetables and have eggs from our chickens so we have a better diet."

You can make your purchases work to support charitable causes like these all year round. What’s not to love? The best news is that if you sign up and raise your first £5 in December, Give as you Live will match the donation given by the retailer, doubling your charitable gift.

I’ll probably get my brother that toilet in Malawi because I know it will make him laugh, but I love the idea that the other Christmas presents I buy will also have a charitable dimension. Through Give as you Live, when I shop online Progressio will automatically receive a donation to help them keep on doing the really important work they do helping people living in very difficult circumstances to overcome poverty and marginalisation.

Written by Esther Trewinnard

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