- Buy your Christmas cards from an animal charity.
A great many animal rescue centres sell Christmas cards, diaries, calendars and stocking fillers and they can be a great way to buy those things you need and make a difference at the same time. Smaller charities often sell these, so it's worth checking with those in your local area as well as online.
- Ask people for a donation instead of a gift
If you ask your relatives to all give a donation to your favourite animal charity instead of giving you presents, this could make quite a difference. This has the added advantage of saving them time - and probably money - and stress in thinking of gifts to give you. Give them the name & website of your nominated charity and tell them how to donate - it could be they send a cheque off to the animal rescue instead of donating online. It also spreads the word about your favourite animal charity as your nearest and dearest visit its website.
- Buy them stocking fillers
See if there are any stocking fillers you can treat people to from your favourite animal charity. Many have online shops you can buy gifts from. Or, if they are animal lovers, go onto the websites of their favourite animals and buy a gift from there for them.
- Give them a gift membership.
Gift memberships mean they can indulge in their passion for animals over a period of several months, perhaps even a year. A memberships are important to animal charities & conservation groups. We will be adding furiously to this site over the next few weeks, so please keep checking with it.
- Give them an experience day
These can be an important fundraiser for many wildlife centres, riding schools, animal centres, specialist charities and conservaiton groups such as the Wildlife Heritage Foundation in Kent which works to prevent the extinction of big cats. You can either buy directly - such as from Paradise Wildlife Park & ZSL London Zoo, or go through gift experience companies such as Buy a Gift and Red Letter Days. Animal experience days often give people a chance to see what goes on behind the scenes, to learn how the keepers look after the animals in their care, and crucally to support conservation efforts. For instance, Chester Zoo is one of the chief organisations involved in the Jaguar Conservation Network, while the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey trains conservationists from around the world in good conservation practice.
- Give them a subscription
There's nothing like coming home after a hard day's work to your favourite wildlife magazine or pet magazine in the postbox or on the doormat. It makes a refreshing change from the usual rubbish that comes thorugh the post. Many magazine groups now enable you to select how long you want your gift to go for e.g. a three month subscription, six month or year.
- Give them a virtual gift
Examples include sponsoring rainforest, or plant trees in the UK or further afield. Tree2mydoor.com has conservation tree gifts in Belize, Vietnam, Chile and Ecuador - but also quite a number in the UK. Give animals a home! Many charities have online shops from which you can buy gifts which will also benefit animals in the wild or at home. The Brooke, the Donkey Sanctuary and SPANA all have online shops which enable you to help horses, donkeys and mules through your gift to a loved one, and many gifts will have a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of these animals, such as fly fringes and water troughs. SPANA's gift Thirsty Work brings water to donkeys all over the capital city of Mauritania and for £11 you can treat a horse or donkey lover to this gift. £10 spent in a country far away goes far further than it will in the UK, US or similar.
- Save used stamps.
Ask as many people as you can to save stamps on their Christmas cards this year. Pick a charity from our list and send them the stamps.
- Volunteer over Christmas
Find out from your local animal charity if you can volunteer over the Christmas and New Year period. They may be very glad of the extra pair of hands.
- Pledge to change your ways in 2013
Choose three ways in which you will change your lifestyle to be more animal friendly in 2013. This could be having one vegetarian meal a week, eating palm oil free chocolate, turning down your central heating, taking more public transport or getting on your bike, doing voluntary work - anything which makes a difference and impacts on animals for the better.
- Choose a gift for yourself and adopt an animal online.
And adopt animals for three fellow animal lovers this year for birthday and anniversary gifts instead.
- Have a go!
GIve people the chance to have a go at something new and different which could lead them to take up new habits! Such as palm oil free toilettries and soaps, palm oil free chocolate, a gift membership, a short conservation break...