The magic of giving: Tips to spread joy and generosity this Christmas

It’s the Christmas we’ve all looked forward to. After a festive season in 2020 marred by the pandemic, many in the UK are looking forward to celebrating in person with families and giving gifts to our loved ones. We’ve always enjoyed the warm fuzzy feeling of seeing our loved ones unwrap something they’ve wanted, but after such a lengthy period away from each other, giving feels extra special this year.

According to behavioural psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos, being generous and giving contributes to our wellbeing. “Humans are social beings. Being generous with our time, money, or sharing resources, allows us to connect meaningfully with those around us. Research has shown that when we give, our brains release endorphins that lift our mood and make us feel good. As this is our first Christmas since the pandemic where we can celebrate together, there’s no better time to be generous, whether it’s donating our time and money to charity, buying gifts for family and friends, or acts of service and kindness in our communities.’’

PayPal conducted its Generosity and Giving 2021 study1 to mark the forthcoming Christmas season. According to the study, only a third of people (31%) consider themselves a generous person with a quarter (24%) believing they could be more generous than they currently are.

Here are some tips from Dr Papadopoulos to help you go the extra mile this Christmas.

  1. If you’re part of the 60% that never volunteers, why not give it a go and donate your time to a good cause and spread Christmas cheer? Doing things for others causes your brain to release endorphins making you feel good too. It’s a win-win.
  2. Buying gifts for friends and family can be riddled with anxiety. Why not decide on a price cap and a theme for your gifts so everyone enjoys exchanging presents?
  3. One of the best ways to achieve a sense of connectedness at Christmas is to think of those who may be having a hard time and give back. Technology these days makes this easy, and options like PayPal’s “Give at Checkout” allows you to make a £1 donation to your favourite charity every time you shop.
  4. Giving is contagious. You could start a chain of giving by choosing to do a small act of generosity, like buying coffee for the next person in line at your local coffee shop. It may just trigger an act of kindness from someone else and start a domino effect of giving.
  5. Taking the time to talk to others was cited as the number one sign that someone is a generous person (47%). Reconnecting and giving your time to those you haven’t spent time with recently this festive season will reenforce those all-important bonds with other people.
  6. Acts of service and kindness. This is the time of year when many of us have a tight or lean budget to shop for gifts which leaves us with little or no money to give to charity. But that should not stop us from making a difference. There are so many ways in which we can deliver smiles to others. Here are some acts of kindness that spark joy and spread some magic dust which is what this season is all about.
    • Bake cakes and cookies for your local food bank
    • Host a collection on your street, place of worship or business for your local food bank. Always check first on what food banks are looking for, and whether they are still running due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak
    • Make thank you cards for your mailperson or food delivery person
    • Donate pet supplies to your local animal shelter. Donations made to local animal shelters are always incredibly welcome at Christmas time. Sadly, due to lockdown, rescue centres have been overwhelmed with homeless animals. If you're looking to bring joy to a cat or dog, something as simple as a ping-pong ball or catnip toy can go a long way. Check with your local shelter to see what their regulations are around donating

Dr Linda Papadopoulos has teamed up with PayPal to remind the nation of the feel-good benefits of giving this Christmas. To find out how you can give to a cause close to your heart this Christmas as you shop with PayPal, visit Generosity Network or or download the PayPal app.


1 PayPal's Generosity and Giving 2021 survey was conducted online by OnePoll which surveyed 2,000 nationally representative respondents in November 2021

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