Londoners, here's how you can do a good deed every day leading up to Christmas.
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 good deeds, too.
With that in mind, we've put together this list of good deeds you can do in London in December 2021. 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.
We'd recommend skimming through the list right away, as some events may fill up before the actual day.
Wednesday 1 December
GLOWING ROSES: The Ever After Garden opens in Grosvenor Square today — for £10, sponsor a glowing rose in memory of a loved one, and raise money for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. You can view the garden for free, 12pm-8pm every day until 23 December (though after dark is recommended).
Also: It's not too late (just about) for you to get a team together and run to the North Pole (or the equivalent distance) in aid of Young Lives vs Cancer.
Thursday 2 December
REFUGEE BUSINESSES: Head to Dray Yard in Brick Lane, where Anqa Collective's pop-up shop sells items from refugee-owned businesses. This includes Syrian baklava, local honey, original art & photography, slow fashion, jewellery, ceramics and more. Every time you buy from Anqa, you make a big difference, enabling refugees to grow their businesses and take control of their own futures. Open 8.30am-7pm on 2-5 December.
Also: Bag a last-minute place in the Santa in the City fun run to raise money for various charities.
Friday 3 December
ELF DAY: The Alzheimer's Society wants you to dress up and frolic like an elf to help raise funds for its cause. You can get involved today ('Elf Day', apparently) or any time that month, in any way you like. Ideas include a best-dressed elf competition with family, friends, or colleagues, a festive games night or bake sale, or even organise an Elf Day at your school. And if you're stuck for costume ideas, Alzheimer's Society's online shop has plenty of elfish garments and gifts available to buy.
Also: Tonight's the second of two carol concerts in aid of Battersea dogs and cats home, for which the dogs themselves are allowed into church. Full details here.
Saturday 4 December
CRISIS AT CHRISTMAS: Homelessness charity Crisis is always on the lookout for volunteers to help with its Crisis at Christmas initiative. If you can't offer your time but still want to help, why not donate some of the items it's in need of? Clothing toiletries, food, drink and games are all required, but do check the website for specifics. The warehouse in Canning Town is open for donations from today, 4 December, until 11 December — though if you can't get there in person, you can always buy something via the Amazon wishlist.
Also: Independent beer and wine shop Bottle hosts a Christmas wine-tasting event today, with 100% of ticket fees going to Camden-based homelessness charity Doorstep. Find out more and book tickets.
Sunday 5 December
REINDEER RUN: Don your antlers, polish your red nose, and take part in the Hogarth Club's charity reindeer run in aid of Chiswick's RNLI boat. The 7.5km circular route takes in both Hammersmith and Barnes bridges, where the more imaginative runners can pretend they're flying reindeer-style over the Thames. It's £16 a ticket and you're encouraged to raise further money through sponsorship.
Also: Still more energy can be burned off at The Right To Dance's party at Oval Space and the Pickle Factory (Cambridge Heath). Money raised goes towards the Yemen crisis.
Monday 6 December
CAROLS IN CHELSEA: Tis the season for charitable carol concerts. One of the bigger ones takes place today in St Luke's Chelsea, including readings from celebrities. It's not cheap at £25 a ticket, but the money goes to two good causes, Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation. 7pm-8.30pm
Also: In the Canary Wharf area? The East London Toy Appeal wants you to donate new toys to a collection in Jubilee Place, which will then be distributed to families in need.
Tuesday 7 December
GOOD AT GIFTWRAP?: Together at Christmas is Better Bankside’s annual festive gift appeal to bring cheer to vulnerable people in Bankside the wider Southwark area. You can help in two ways. First, have a look at the Christmas wishlist, chock full of items you can buy in donation. For those who want to get more hands-on, the project is also looking for volunteers to help gift-wrap all the donations. Wrapping sessions take place between 7 and 10 December.
Also: Another day, another carol concert for an excellent cause — with the bonus of an opportunity to see inside The Grand Hall at Lambeth Palace, albeit from your living room (in-person tickets are sold out, but live stream is still available). A Starry Night from Lambeth Palace supports Ronald McDonald House Charities UK, with the likes of the English National Opera Choir and the Male Welsh London Rugby Choir performing.
Wednesday 8 December
LUXURY SHOPPING: A fashion-themed Christmas shopping event in St Christopher's Place (Oxford Street) promises to be both stylish and virtuous, courtesy of The Crowned Social Club. Taking place at PLATFORM concept shop, the party will include champagne, festive treats, a luxury raffle and a clothing drive (bring unwanted clothes for women in need). It runs 5pm-8pm and attendance is free (but prebook).
Thursday 9 December
CHARITY CARDS: If you're seeking charity Christmas cards, then there are few better places to head than Ealing. The Michaelmas Marvel card shop has been serving the area's festive needs for 37 years. It stocks cards from 27 charities, with 100% of proceeds going to those causes. Find it at Church of Christ the Saviour, New Broadway, 10am until 4pm until 18 December, Mondays to Saturdays.
Also: Brand new charity Little Greenwich Books has put together a wish-list of 30 children's gift bags. Donate a book and help bring cheer to a local family in need.
Friday 10 December
CHRISTMAS JUMPER DAY: Whatever you're up to today, don your best festive woolly and make a donation to Save The Children. That's right, it's Christmas Jumper Day, where the weirdest, tackiest, most garish Christmas jumpers are not only allowed, but actively encouraged. And we've got a helping hand if you're looking for a London-themed Christmas jumper.
Also: Age UK is encouraging the public to hold their own Jingle Bakes cake sale events between 10-12 December, and donate the proceeds to its work to prevent loneliness in the elderly, particularly around Christmas.
Saturday 11 December
ICE PLUNGE FOR CRISIS: Jump into an icy pool for charity! Crisis is fundraising at Brockwell Lido today, with a £29.06 entry fee (and £150 sponsorship target) going to their homeless causes. Take a solo dip, swim a length, or take part in a team relay. Between 12pm and 2pm.
Sunday 12 December
TREE OF KINDNESS: If you've been past Charing Cross station recently, you may have noticed a towering blue Christmas tree. It's the London Tree of Kindness, an initiative from Social Bite, where anyone can donate Christmas gifts for those in need. The gift wishlist includes warm clothing, hygiene and beauty products, and children's toys and games — full list here. Take your donation to the tree any day between 25 November and 23 December (10am-2pm Monday-Wednesday, 11am-7pm Thursday-Sunday).
Also: Nearby Trafalgar Square today hosts the annual Ukrainian and English carol concert. It's free, but donations to help orphaned children affected by the war in Ukraine are encouraged.
Monday 13 December
FOOD BANK: While stocking up on festive goodies this December, why not slip a couple of extra bits into your trolley to help out with the Hackney Food Bank reverse advent calendar? Each day in December focuses on a different long-life food item that's in demand — today is tinned fruit — though all donations from the list are welcome any day. Note, you'll need to book a slot to drop your donation off at the warehouse on Cherbury Street.
Tuesday 14 December
GUIDE DOG CAROLS: St Mary's Church near Marylebone is the venue for tonight's Guide Dogs Christmas Wishes Concert, a festive event raising money for the charity which pairs up guide dogs with blind and partially-sighted people. Presenter Nicky Campbell hosts the concert, with Heather Small among the performers. Tickets £20, 7pm-8.30pm. If you can't make it, there's a virtual concert on 21 December.
Wednesday 15 December
CAROLS FOR CANCER: Another big carol concert takes place today, as the Spirit of Christmas event from World Child Cancer UK takes place in Holy Trinity, Sloane Square. It's a family-friendly event with mince pies and mulled wine. It's also free to attend (thanks to a sponsor), but donations to support children with cancer are heartily encouraged. 7pm-9.30pm
Thursday 16 December
CAMP AS CHRISTMAS: Comedians Deborah Frances-White (of The Guilty Feminist) and Tom Allen join forces for Camp As Christmas, a live comedy and music show at Islington's Union Chapel. Sandi Toksvig and Russel Tovey are just a small part of the line-up, with the event raising money for two charities — Say It Loud, which supports LGBTQ+ asylum seekers and refugees, and CanDo, which supports schools in Syria. Tickets £25, 7pm.
Friday 17 December
SING-ALONG TO FROZEN: Elim Pentecostal Church in Wimbledon is going all out to raise money for Wimbledon Foodbank, with a series of Christmas Cinema events. Tonight, it's a sing-along screening of Frozen, with a Christmas market showcasing local businesses before the film. Plus, audience members are invited (though it's not mandatory) to bring along a Christmas gift for a child — they'll be distributed to local children in need. Tickets are a bargain £5 (though you're welcome to donate more), screening is 6pm-8pm
Saturday 18 December
THE TOY PROJECT: Clearing out your kids' rooms ahead of Christmas? This weekend is your last chance to donate their old toys to The Toy Project pop-up inside Selfridges. Donated toys will either be passed on to The Toy Project, or sold at Selfridges. The campaign has two benefits: toys which are no longer used can be given a new lease of life, rather than going to landfill, which is great for sustainability and the environment, and, money raised from the second-hand toys sold at the pop-up goes towards funding The Toy Project's workshops and events. The pop-up itself is open for shopping until 23 December.
Sunday 19 December
WINTER BRIDGE TREK: Sign up in advance to take part in today's Winter Bridge Trek in aid of Islamic Help, which has participants walking across 10 of London's bridges. Registering is free, but each participant must raise £100 in sponsorship, which goes towards helping some of the most vulnerable people around the world, including orphans and refugees.
Monday 20 December
PLAN AHEAD: London's starting to wind down for the festive period now, but if you're looking ahead to next year, volunteers are needed to help out with the Cancer Research UK London Winter Run in March. You won't be running yourself, but helping out with route marshalling, bag drop and other tasks that help the event to run smoothly and raise as much cash as possible for Cancer Research UK. Sign up now.
Tuesday 21 December
FOOD WASTE: The days either side of Christmas Day see a growing need for volunteers across a range of charities. One such is the Felix Project, which helps to redistribute food that would have been wasted to the people who most need it. The charity is looking for volunteers over the next few days at its Enfield and Park Royal portals. If the slots are already booked, be sure to come back soon as they're always looking for a helping hand.
Wednesday 22 December
GOOD HUMOUR: 'Good comedy for good causes' is the mantra of the aptly-named Good Humour Comedy Club at The Telegraph at the Earl of Derby in Telegraph Hill, which has a pre-Christmas show tonight. Though tickets are free, there's an optional donation at the end for today's chosen charity (TBC at time of writing), so make sure you've got some cash on you.
Thursday 23 December
SPONSOR A ROOM: Centre Point charity is looking for donations to help put a roof over the heads of young homeless people this Christmas (and beyond). £12 a month sponsorship helps Centre Point find a room for one person, while higher donations can contribute to counselling and life-skills training.
Friday 24 December
CHOOSE LOVE: Today's the last of Choose Love's Carnaby pop-up. Head to 3 Carnaby Street to purchase items which are needed by refugees — all items purchased are donated directly to those who need them most, and range from warm clothes and hygiene products, to toys and books for children. You can even buy a product on behalf of someone else with the eGift Card option, ideal if you've left that Christmas shopping a bit too late this year. Alternatively, the Choose Love online shop is open all year round.
Feeling inspired? Check out our guide to volunteering in London at Christmas.