While Christmas is very exciting for many of us, for some Aussies who have done it particularly tough this year, or just don’t have any family, Christmas can be a time of depression, disappointment and loneliness. Rushing around to meet the gift needs of your family and friends is very important, but particularly at this time of year, it is also important to give some thought to people who could use a little extra support. But how can you do it?

What is the giving tree?

A giving tree is basically a Christmas tree under which people place gifts for others who are less fortunate than themselves to help ensure they have a happier and more fulfilling Christmas – and know that someone is thinking of them.
Department stores have jumped on the giving tree bandwagon, with many of them featuring a tree in the lead up to Christmas. The trees simply has tags with the age and gender of a person in need. You take a tag, purchase a gift that meets the demographics provided and place it under the tree. Organisations such as The Salvation Army of St Vincent de Pauls then distribute the gifts as needed. While you will never know the person you purchase for, and you’ll never see their face, you will be letting a lonely person know they are thought of, or providing gifts so a mum or dad can give them to their child and feel they have provided Christmas.

While the trees are in the stores, you can actually purchase your gift from anywhere, wrap it and take it in – visit your boutique stores down the road, get something special made, or get some online toys with the click of a button.
What should you buy?

1.    Dad

Dads are always the hardest to buy for, and possibly even more so when you don’t know them. You can spend as much or as little as you feel is appropriate, and should just be wary that you don’t know sizes for clothing. Think hobbies is the best idea – great ideas for dads are books, comfy dressing gowns, fishing gear, cards, chocolates or even men’s skin products. If you’re worried, get a few things and make a little hamper.

2.    Mum

Mum’s are a lot easier than dads, so these tags are more likely to go quicker – meaning a lot of dads and granddads are left! For mum, she’s probably had a tough year, so get her something just for her. What about some girly, romance movies, pamper packs, or a soft dressing gown? You could also buy her a book, a scarf or some nice beads.

3.    The kids

Kids again, are a lot easier. For young boys, think skateboards, toys, sporting equipment, or fishing gear. Young boys who may not have access to game consoles, are possibly more likely to head outdoors, so let that inspire you. As they get older, you might think about aftershave, skin products, books or movies.
For girls, most little ones like to be princesses! Think bead making sets, make up kits, nail polish, or hair accessories. For older girls, more advanced makeup, books, movies, jewellery or just basics like nice lip gloss or perfume are great ideas.

4.    Grandparents

These are the hardest ones, and might even be passed over on the tree – so pick them! For grandad, packs of cards, movies, books, or gardening gear are great ideas. For grandma, what about some jewellery, perfume or a handbag?