Christmas and charity: helping other people
Mel, 27, teacher, London
3 years ago, I'd just broken up with my boyfriend, I was emotionally drained and I really didn't feel like going out partying.
When I heard that Crisis, the homeless charity, were looking for volunteers to serve meals to the homeless over Christmas, I signed up, without thinking twice.
I really felt the need to feel useful...
When I got there, even though you could sense the distress, it was full of Christmas spirit.
Everybody was polite, people were smiling, and one man even asked me if I'd like to share his meal with him.
The atmosphere was a lot less hostile than in the shops where people are barging about and fighting over Christmas presents.
It does you good sometimes, not focusing on yourself but giving some meaning to Christmas instead.
It leaves you feeling very fulfilled. That might be a bit of a selfish reason to do it but it benefits everyone involved.
To find out how you can take part, visit the Crisis website: www.crisis.org.uk
Caroline, 40, pharmacist, London
For 4 years now, I've spent Christmas Eve with my children, my husband... and a random foreign student whose family lives too far away for him or her to be able to return home for the festivities.
Over the years, we've had a Madagascan, a Brazilian, and a Japanese student staying with us.
It all started when a charity contacted me (a friend of mine worked as a volunteer with them) and mentioned this idea.
I find it fascinating to talk to people from all over the world, for whom Christmas doesn't necessarily mean the same thing.
And it makes a nice change from a celebration that's become far too commercial.
Hosting a foreign exchange student