Debbie McIlwraith Cameron: There's many ways to give at Christmas

To combat the Black Friday plague and Cyber Monday frenzy, the ever-increasingly successful #GivingTuesday was launched '“ and this year it was the UK's top trending hashtag on ­Twitter.

Debbie McIlwraith Cameron is a Senior Solicitor in Turcan Connells Charity Law team

The Elf of the Shelf craze (who is often a naughty elf) is slowly being replaced by the Kindness Elves who encourage children to carry out daily acts of kindness.

Reverse advent calendars work by putting an item into a box each day and donating it when it’s full. This year, a campaign was created to encourage people to buy their secret Santa gifts from charity shops. Social Bite’s Christmas Dinner appeal ­continues to sell out and donations to food banks increase. Many charities have Christmas gift appeals and ­collect donations at carol services. The festive season is truly becoming more benevolent each year.

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With the big day upon us, many of us will have worked our way through our Christmas to-do lists (which will have been as long as Santa’s Nice List) and in between ‘untangle strings of fairy lights’ and ‘order the turkey’, more and more of us are replacing ‘write Christmas cards’ with ‘make a donation to charity’.

A foodbank sorts out donations from a reverse advent calendar appeal

Many people enjoy dusting off their address books and writing messages to loved ones, and as someone who gets very little mail throughout the year (and the mail I do get is rarely exciting), I enjoy receiving Christmas cards from my friends and family and they make up a vital part of my Christmas decorating. So why not do both?

This year, the staff of Turcan ­Connell have been fundraising for Down’s Syndrome Scotland (DSS), the ­charity selected by staff vote as our charity of the year.

One of our main events was our inaugural Christmas Market. Along with a few other vendors, a team of elves from DSS came along and sold their Christmas cards as well as ­other lovely DSS items. The effect here is three-fold: DSS benefits from the sale of the cards, I can send my warm wishes in the traditional way and the amazing work of DSS is spread a little wider as many of the recipients read the message on the back of the cards and when they ask, I happily tell them about the work of DSS and their ABC programme.

The Christmas Market saw us smash our £15,000 target and we still have three months to go. In our fundraising year to date, we have seen members of staff take part in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival, the Forth Bridge abseil, the Edinburgh Kiltwalk and our flagship event – the TC Charity of the Year hockey tournament at the end of the summer – as well as a number of dress down days, bakes sales and raffles.

Our festive fundraising finished with our final dress down day and bake sale of the calendar year. Our offices were a catwalk of cracking Christmas jumpers and too many festive treats were eaten. Before our charity of the year relationship ends with DSS, we will have one more key event, our Burns supper in early ­February and we are very much looking forward to DSS’s Lots of Socks Day on 21 March.

As well as the warm, fuzzy feeling you get, some forms of charitable ­giving also come with tax advantages, both for you and the recipient ­charity (such as Gift Aid) which we can ­provide advice on to make your donation go further. Turcan ­Connell also advises individuals on philanthropic giving and assists charities with fundraising regulation, amongst other things.

So I encourage you all to embrace the true meaning of the season of ­giving and incorporate some (or all) of these charitable activities into your festive routine and the new year.

Many of them are small changes that can make a big difference and can be enjoyed by the whole family (both your work family and your real family!). Whether you support a ­specific charity or a wider cause, have a look at what activities, projects and programmes are being promoted this festive season and get involved. The only (bah) humbugs we want at Christmas time are the hard-boiled kind! A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.

Debbie McIlwraith Cameron is a ­senior solicitor in Turcan Connell’s charity law team.