The act of giving and receiving gifts is a popular Christmas tradition. Whilst we all commit considerable hours and effort into choosing just the right gifts for our loved ones, it's important to remember that there are also many other things that we can give to embrace the spirit of giving, that often might have even more impact than a physical gift.

In a year that has had as many ups and downs as a pogo stick, the spirit of giving - in whatever way, shape or form you can - is even more important for many people in our community. This Christmas in particular, the focus of our spirit of giving is not all about materialistic gifts (although, we do have a gorgeous range of Christmas gifts to share). Our Christmas Cart team believe there is a very special power in giving to other people without an expectation of receiving anything in return, and in this article we will highlight some simple ways to champion the true spirit of giving.

We believe that the true spirit of giving can be found in an act of kindness. It might be presented through a gift of time, a gift of sharing a skill or lending a hand, or gift of good will. Although it’s more prevalent at Christmas time when gifts are readily exchanged and people come together to celebrate, the true spirit of giving to any one in the community, especially those in need, can be embraced at any time of the year. Gestures such as offering a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen or a warm, home-cooked meal can really go a long way to brightening someone's day.

Following are three of our favourite ways to embrace and encourage the true spirit of giving, ideal for any time of the year but simply perfect at Christmas!

#1 Remember the Spirit of Giving When You Get

Typically, especially if there are little people in your house, Christmas brings a batch of shiny new toys, clothes, shoes and accessories, and other bits and pieces for around the home too. This impending, large influx of items presents the ideal opportunity to give when (or before) you get, in the spirit of giving.

In the lead up to the Christmas season, gather your clan to go through cupboards, wardrobes, pantries, bookshelves and toy boxes to pick out any items that have been outgrown or are just out of love. If they are in good order, think about donating those items to one of the many charities that could pass them on to families in need. What a great way to embrace the spirit of giving and declutter your home at the same time.

Alternatively, think about paying forward a random act of kindness in the spirit of giving. A free cup of coffee to the car behind at the drive through, or letting a mother with a screaming toddler go in front of you at the store checkout, for example. It's these simple, selfless acts that can really go a long way to embracing and sharing the spirit of giving at Christmas time.

#2 Create a Give List

Another great idea, if you have kids in particular, is to ask them to make a “give list”. Instead of wishing for everything they want this year, encourage the spirit of giving by creating a list of things they would like to give to people or do as a favour for friends and family.

Use the give list activity as a way to teach and remind your kids, and yourself, that gifts don’t always have to come in fancy gift wrapping. Some ideas to include on a give list could be helping someone in the garden or cleaning the yard, mowing a lawn, feeding the native birds, teaching a skill that you have to somebody else, etc.

#3 Nurture the Spirit of Giving

Many of the lessons we learn in life are captured along the way from lived experiences, rather than being expressly taught. What kind of spirit of giving are you embracing and showcasing for your family? An armful of expectation or a heart full of generosity?

If you want to nurture the true spirit of giving in your network, remember to be mindful of the manner in which you approach the giving and receiving of gifts and the importance of sharing your time on earth with community, family and friends. Taking time to recognise that there will always be someone who needs more than you, will help to ensure the spirit of giving remains an important part of your family culture.

This Christmas, we look forward to gathering with family, friends and acquaintances to celebrate more than we have ever before. Savour these moments of joy and cherish being together to embrace the spirit of giving.