With all of life at the moment, things are strange and not how we’d necessarily want them to be. Due to COVID, we can’t get together with loved ones, and this year, Christmas will be very different. For small businesses too, it’s an uncertain time, as many creative folks rely on sales from events and fairs, and the hospitality sector normally has a Christmas boost in the middle of a long winter season with festive meals and party nights.
In today’s post, I’m suggesting ways in which we all can support our local area here in Caithness. We’re all not going to do this perfectly, but I’m of the mindset that lots of people doing little things is better than a few doing a little. Caithness is known for big community spirit and so we all have a part to play, however large or small our actions!
Shop local online marketplaces
The temptation to head straight to Amazon is huge, but shopping local is key to supporting small businesses. Many businesses and shops are now online, with websites, or Facebook or Instagram pages to show off their products or services. If you don’t feel comfortable braving the shops in person (understandable considering the current climate and situation), look out for the #CaithnessMarket days on Instagram and Facebook (the next one is November 1st) or join the We wish you a merry Caithmass group on Facebook where there’s a continuous feed of folk sharing gift and stocking filler ideas. You could also think about ringing your favourite shops too, and asking if they can offer a delivery or postal service direct to your door.
If you run a local business, I offer social content planning services which will be invaluable for scheduling out your festive content over the next few months – there’s still time! Drop me an email or DM on any of my social channels to find out more.
Consider gift vouchers or small scale festive dining
The traditional work Christmas meal out or Mad Friday celebrations won’t be happening this year, which is always a big part of the festive season. If you miss out on a work Christmas do, why not buy some gift vouchers towards a meal out that you can enjoy some time with colleagues in 2021, once restrictions are able to be lifted? Your money goes some way to bolstering your favourite local restaurant at an uncertain time, and you get to look forward to a meal out in the hopefully not too distant future.
Look out for special online events
While festive fairs, Christmas light switch-on events or carol services won’t be happening in the same way, there still might be ways to connect digitally with online events or experiences. The Caithness Society of Artists has just announced an extra online exhibition for December as their Summer exhibition was so popular. I’ll be adding more local festive and non-festive events as I find them! (If you know of any in Caithness, please drop me an email or comment here or on any of my social channels!)
Pre-order local food and drink
We love planning our Christmas Day menu, and a big part of our preparations is to visit our local butchers to put in our meat order. The thought of doing a big Tesco shop avec mask just before Christmas is already filling me with dread, so I’m going to try and also get as much as I can without relying on the supermarket! The baking game here in Caithness is also very strong, so look out on the above noted online groups for artisan and home-baked goodies to supplement your Christmas treats!
Buy second hand
The saying ‘one person’s trash is another person’s treasure’ is definitely true, and we love rooting through charity shops at any time of the year, particularly for books! Mr B and I do Christmas stockings for each other, and we always wrap up a book or two as part of that tradition. A couple of years ago, he also found me a set of vintage sherry glasses! One of our local charity shops in Wick has recently joined Instagram, and I’m loving seeing the ‘gram-worthy displays and styling tips.
Do some social media sharing
Whether you’re dropping some atom-bomb hints from your own wishlist, or collating ideas for others, you can also hit that Share button to share the love for local businesses. A share, like or comment is free and can take just a moment or two, and helps the online visibility of businesses, which in turn can help their sales.
Donate to local causes
I’ve focused on how to help businesses in this post, but it’s important to remember that in the current economic climate, more people have lost their jobs and more families are now relying on charities for help. Keep an eye out for what Highland charities such as Caithness Foodbank, or Home-Start Caithness (link is for Home Start’s current fundraiser) need.
A little bit less local, a lot of local people and churches take part in the Blythswood Shoe Box Appeal, which sends gifts to people in Eastern Europe (2020 collections take place in Caithness on the 10th and 11th November).
Keep active even in the cold weather and shortening days
It’s good to look after ourselves too, and while snowy days don’t abound in the county, it’ll be chilly enough to bundle up in your best winter woolies and take yourself off for a local walk (I’ve got some suggestions here). Our tradition is to check the tide times on Christmas Day and head to Sinclair Bay. You could always treat yourself to a warming glass of something warm and mulled on your return!
I’d love to hear your tips and traditions that you’ll be employing for this COVID Christmas – feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below!