Come 1 December, you'll hear the sound of tiny doors being opened up and down the country as advent begins. Reverse advent calendars — which involve donating an item to charity every day of advent — have become popular in recent years, and have widened to cover not just donating items, but doing good deeds too.
With that in mind, we've put together this list of good deeds you can do in London this December. It's a mixture of fundraising events and more general projects and actions that people can get involved in, so however much time/money you have to spare, there should be something for you. Of course, this is only a tiny selection of the worthy causes and events that are in need of help — feel free to highlight others in the comments.
Feeling inspired? Check out our guide to volunteering in London at Christmas.
Friday 1 December
Toast the start of advent with a beer. Borough Market has launched a new beer to raise money for its Trader Support Fund, which helps with the financial losses the traders’ suffered in the wake of the terror attack. The limited edition Imperial London Porter is available in bottles in the market, or get it on draught in The Globe Tavern or The Rake pubs. It’s available from midday on 30 November until stocks run out.
Saturday 2 December
Lewisham & Southwark College is accepting donations today for the Crisis at Christmas Community Wishlist. Items such as clothing, shoes, blankets, food and drink are being collected to help London's homeless people. See the full list of items and donation dates here.
Sunday 3 December
Feeling lively? Great Ormond Street Hospital's Santa Dash takes place on Clapham Common today. Limber up for either a 5k or 10k run, jog or walk around the park to raise money for the hospital — you'll even get a free Santa suit when you sign up.
Monday 4 December
One of our favourite London carol concerts takes place today, with a 'canine guard of honour' welcoming guests to St Luke's Church in Chelsea for the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home fundraiser. Tickets range from £20-£35, and need to be booked in advance.
Love dogs, but not free tonight? Mayhew Animal Home's Tinsel & Tails takes place tomorrow night. It's a black tie evening with three course meal at the Grand Connaught Hotel — with plenty of four-legged friends present to liven things up. Tickets £70-£90.
Tuesday 5 December
Got five minutes free today? The Marie Curie Christmas tree is now in situ on South Bank, next to the London Eye. It's powered by memories — the more memories people share, the brighter it shines. To get involved, post to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #LightUpXmas. It won't cost you anything, it'll raise awareness for a fantastic charity, and it'll make London look that little bit twinklier this Christmas. Tree is running 4-17 December.
Wednesday 6 December
West End stars from shows including Rock of Ages, Dreamgirls and Sunny Afternoon take to the stage in a much more intimate venue tonight. West End Up Close takes place in the Chapel of St Barnabas in Soho, raising money for the Employment Academy, which helps get homeless people into employment. Tickets are £30 and need to be booked in advance.
Thursday 7 December
Christmas shopping in Soho? Take a break in Choose Love, a pop-up shop run by Help Refugees where you can buy products to aid refugees in Europe and the Middle East. Items available include emergency blankets, medical equipment, shoes and warm socks. Gifts range in price from £4.99-£499. The shop's open right through until January.
Friday 8 December
It's a good deed you can do all year round (and won't cost you anything), but blood supplies run particularly low at Christmas, so donations are encouraged. Register on the website to sign up for an appointment time that suits you.
Saturday 9 December
Winter is the most dangerous time of year for homeless people, which is why Crisis is calling on Londoners to help end homelessness. Brave the chilly waters of London's lidos and swim a wintery width to fundraise for the charity. You can take part on your own or with a team. Either way, your registration fee could cover the cost of reserving a place for a homeless person at Crisis at Christmas or help support Crisis’ year-round services. Sign up now — either on your own or with your friends — to take a dip in Brockwell Lido today.
Sunday 10 December
Warm your cockles twice over at this screening of It's A Wonderful Life; watch the festive film knowing that the money you've spent on your ticket goes to The Margins Project, Union Chapel's charity which helps homeless Londoners and those in crisis.
Monday 11 December
Get your fah-la-las ready for Carols In The City 2017, a candlelit carol concert in Southwark Cathedral which raises money for Marie Curie Cancer Care. Actor Jim Carter (Carson in Downton Abbey) is this year's special guest.
Can't make it to the concert? Make a £25 donation and name a star on the Christmas tree instead (names to be submitted by 8 December). Find out more and buy tickets here.
Tuesday 12 December
Not got your Christmas tree sorted yet? The Christmas Forest is a London-based organisation which plants one tree in the dry-lands of Africa for every tree sold here in the UK. You'll find stores in Battersea, Putney, Dulwich, Ealing, Hackney and plenty of other locations around London — and they offer a delivery service too.
Wednesday 13 December
If you weren't organised in time to start a reverse advent calendar from the start of the month, why not do a 12-day one instead: Every day between now and Christmas, put a useful item in a box, then donate the box to charity. It could be anything from sealed, long life food and drink to toothbrushes, toothpaste and other basic toiletries. You can find a local food bank to donate it to here or here.
Thursday 14 December
Want to show a London-based charity some love? SNARL (South Norwood Animal Rescue Liberty) has been in the news a lot recently for its work in trying to catch the M25 cat killer. On top of this, it's been carrying out its usual work taking in, caring for and rehoming ill and abused cats. Sounds like it deserve some support, no?
Friday 15 December
Love it of hate it, Christmas Jumper Day is back. Don your finest festive fashion and raise money for Save The Children. Extra points if you get the office Scrooge joining in too.
Saturday 16 December
Looking for a last minute Christmas gift? ZSL, the wildlife and conservation charity behind London Zoo, has plenty of options to buy online, including a chance to adopt an animal, or an experience day where you can meet penguins, giraffes and other furry friends. Each comes with a personalised gift park, and profits go towards conservation projects here in London and around the world. Order by 1pm on 18 December for standard delivery, or 1pm on 21 December for next day delivery in time for Christmas.
Sunday 17 December
Another chance for Londoners to buy that all-important Christmas tree; Capital Christmas Trees is popping up in three London parks to sell Christmas trees, with profits going towards caring for 5,000 acres and 170,000 trees in London's Royal Parks.
Monday 18 December
Need a last minute stocking filler for a little Londoner? Introduce them to honorary Londoner Paddington Bear, with this Christmas book which retells the story of the M&S Christmas advert. The best bit? £2 of the £3 price goes to the NSPCC.
Tuesday 19 December
If you can, why not buy an extra toy or game this year and donate it to the children at Great Ormond Street Hospital, many of whom will be inpatients over the Christmas period. Teenage patients are often overlooked, so any donations for this age group are particularly welcome
Wednesday 20 December
Done your Christmas shopping and got a few pennies spare? London's Air Ambulance has launched its first ever Christmas campaign this year, "It wouldn't be Christmas for us without London's Air Ambulance". The charity relies entirely on voluntary donations to cover its annual £10m running costs, so why not chuck a few pennies its way?
Thursday 21 December
Get warmed up for Christmas in your wooliest clothes, and encourage friends, family and colleagues to do the same for Big Issue Foundation's Wear Something Woolly Day. There's no set date for this one, meaning you can pick one to suit you — just make a £2 donation to the homeless charity.
Friday 22 December
If you're passing through St Pancras station between 5pm and 7pm today, listen out for the Marie Curie choir performing underneath the Christmas tree, and maybe drop a few pennies in their collection buckets if you like what you hear.
Saturday 23 December
London-based homeless charity Centrepoint is always looking for people to sponsor a room, allowing them to provide safe accommodation for young homeless people while they get back on their feet.
Sunday 24 December
Making a last minute dash to the shops? While you're there, why not pick up a couple of extra tins and donate them to a food bank — most large supermarkets now have donation points instore.