During the winter, everything seems expensive: bills go up because we need to heat our houses; there are gifts to buy for Christmas and extra warm clothing to stock up on.

Unfortunately in recent years the usual expense of winter has been coupled with general financial hardship as the economic climate remains poor. One of the first things that people do to save money is to cancel ‘unnecessary’ direct debits – and unfortunately, many people stop making regular donations to charity as a result.

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An added problem is that the kind souls who often raise money for charity during other times of the year are often too busy to help over the Christmas period. Also, many volunteers who run shops and help out at animal shelters for animal charities such as the RSPCA are simply unable to do so over Christmas. The RSPCA, meanwhile, has a greater-than-ever need for continued support because they, too, face larger than average bills as they strive to keep the animals in their care fed and warm.

Could you raise money from others by doing some easy fundraising this year? The RSPCA Choices website has a selection of great causes that you could choose to support, giving you a say over how your money is spent. For instance, you could raise money for your local shelter, or for veterinary treatment of cats, or to support the RSPCA’s Everyday Heroes (their Inspectors, who rescue and protect animals and pets that have been abandoned, neglected or abused).

If you do have that time, then here are some lovely, easy fundraising ideas with a Christmas theme to get you started.

  • Gingerbread men are easy and cheap to make. If you turn a gingerbread man upside down, so that his legs are where his head would normally be, you can decorate him to look like a reindeer! The legs can be decorated to look like antlers, the arms decorated to look like ears, and you can use half a cherry for the reindeer’s nose (which is actually the gingerbread man’s head).
  • Decorate candy canes. Imagine that you are holding the candy cane upright by the long stem. Tie pipe-cleaners round the bend of the cane and forming antlers with them. Add a pair of googly eyes near the top of the cane, and a round, red sticker on the very end.
  • Make reindeer Florentines. Put blobs of melted chocolate and flatten them slightly with the back of a spoon until they are about as round as a Satsuma. Add two slivers of sliced almond for ears, and two strips of liquorice (with snips in the top end) to form antlers. Add two silver balls used to decorate cakes as eyes and half a cherry for a nose.
  • Put these items into cellophane baggies and tie with a nice ribbon, to sell to friends, colleagues or at local fundraising events (or ask your child’s school or local church if you can sell them). Promote your sales through the RSPCA Choices site that lets you share the details online with your own easy-to-design webpage.