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Icelandic Christmas cheer – for charity!

For the last few years, Hrannar and I (my husband, for those who don’t know him) have invited travelers to our home to share a meal with our family in exchange for a donation to a charity of our choice. We’ve supported the Children’s hospital, a homeless shelter for women, Iceland Search and Rescue, and finally, Frú Ragnheiður – a harm reduction program focusing on helping marginalized groups in Reykjavík. At times we did this as often as two times a month while other years we took longer-than-anticipated breaks due to unexpected (and sometimes unwelcomed) renovation projects in our home.

Out of everything we did while we were still running the business, these dinners were by far my favorite. There’s just something magical that happens when you invite strangers to share a meal together and I could tell you endless stories of all the fascinating people we met.

But that’s not the purpose of this post.

At some point, we expanded on this idea and started offering special Christmas dinners in December. Hrannar would cook our guests a three-course traditional Icelandic Christmas feast while I shared Christmas cookies, and treats and stories of our sometimes whacky “hmmm, this child is scrumptious” Christmas stories. It’s a thing – you’ll see!

As you can imagine, COVID-19 put a stop to all that as it did with many things around the world. We didn’t invite anyone to our home this year, hardly even our friends, and dinners with our families have been few and far between. We also didn’t have any income for several months and currently live on a single salary while I finish school. So we were bummed that we couldn’t donate any money this year.

What we do have though is time and that’s something we are happy to donate.

After some encouragement on social media, we have decided to offer a virtual Christmas charity dinner (minus the dinner) this year where we will share our Christmas folklore and traditions and everything we think makes Christmas in Iceland really special. It will be a 90-minute live event on Google Meet and all the proceeds will go to Frú Ragnheiður. And as if that’s not enough – there’s also a raffle! Oh, you’re going to want to read on.

The who, when and what

This fabulous virtual Christmas event will take place Sunday, December 13th at 22:00 GMT (that’s 23:00 CET, 17:00 EST and 14:00 PST) on Google Meet. This was the best time we could come up with that made sense for all time zones. But don’t worry, if you already have plans or you can’t make it at that time we are going to record it and we’ll send you a link you can watch when you do have time.

The minimum donation is 25 USD (that’s around 20 EUR / 19 GBP) but we of course encourage you to donate more if you can. We will then get everything we collect to Frú Ragnheiður before Christmas.

To make things even more fun (it’s Christmas after all) we’ve teamed up with some of our old partners who have generously offered some amazing prizes to our Christmas raffle but everyone who joins in with a minimum donation will have a chance at winning.

Our Christmas raffle

Many Icelandic families serve rice pudding either at lunch or as a dessert on Christmas eve. They will hide an almond in the pudding and whoever finds the almond gets the so-called almond gift. It depends on the family what the gift is but it’s often something fun that the whole family can enjoy like a board game. At our Christmas dinners, we would always play this game and the winner would take home a carefully chosen book that fitted with the theme of the evening.

Since we can’t send all of you rice pudding (wouldn’t that be a fun experiment though?) we decided to do a “almond gift” raffle instead.

The almond gifts (raffle prizes)

A dinner for two in our home here in Reykjavík

We will be donating 2 x dinner for two at our home here in Reykjavík that can be redeemed whenever you make it to Iceland again. Since it’s a prize, we’ll make sure we cook something nice and we also promise a yummy dessert.

Amazing Small group tours of the Golden Circle and South Coast.

Our good friends at Hidden Iceland have generously donated 2 gift certificates (both for 2 people) to join two of their most popular premium small group tours: The Golden Circle Platinum tour that includes a visit to the Secret Lagoon and lunch at Friðheimar Greenhouse (worth around 360 USD) and the South Coast Fire and Ice Tour which includes a glacier hike in Sólheimajökull (also worth around 360 USD). Hidden Iceland is hands down one of the best small-group tour operators in Iceland and it doesn’t hurt that they’re a nice friendly bunch too. They also offer really great multi-day tours that include a visit to natural ice caves and you’re welcome to use your certificate to pay for one of those too.

A luxury 1-hour Reykjavík city sightseeing tour with a private driver

Our friends at Luxury Travel have generously donated a 1-hour luxury Reykjavík City sightseeing tour with a private driver (worth 17.650 ISK). The certificate can also be used as payment for any private tour or airport transfer if you prefer. While we were still in business we had a very good relationship with Luxury Travel and they were our go-to partner for all our guests that preferred private experiences. No matter what we threw at them, they always delivered with a smile. Seriously good customer service.

A stunning glacier walk in a small group in south east Iceland

Our friends at Local Guide are generously gifting a certificate for their stunning Glacier Discovery tour for 2 people (worth around 260 USD) . Local Guide, a small family-run operation local to the area they operate in, was our go-to partner for ice cave tours while we were still in business because theirs were simply the best. If you’re planning to visit Iceland in winter, you can also use the certificate towards the slightly more costly but no less beautiful ice cave tours.

I should mention that I contacted these guys on a Sunday afternoon and they instantly got back to me willing to participate which says a lot about them. I might add some more prizes as the week goes on if we get a lot of signups. So don’t wait until the last minute to sign up!

The charity

Frú Ragnheiður (Mrs. Ragnheiður) is an amazing harm reduction program managed by the Red Cross here in Iceland. It’s a car that goes around Reykjavík and offers health services to marginalized groups such as the homeless. During the COVID pandemic, they’ve also helped the authorities reach those groups with information, hand sanitizers and masks. All their staff members are volunteer health care professionals and they provide an invaluable service to people who otherwise would maybe not seek it out themselves.

This is a cause very close and dear to our hearts as during our years of doing walking tours in downtown Reykjavík we saw and interacted with some of their clients on a regular basis. It’s good to know that there’s someone there to provide them with judgment-free healthcare.

Sign up here

And leave your donation here

Disclaimer: Although I did poll my Instagram and Twitter followers to try to gauge the interest for this, I actually don’t know how many people will sign up for this event. Therefore, if there’s a lot of interest it’s possible that we’ll run into some technical issues that we may have to address and change some details slightly. I don’t foresee any issues but we just never know. Since this actually requires quite a lot of effort on our part, we also reserve the right to cancel the event if we don’t get enough signups (in which case we’ll of course refund any donations made). I hope you just keep in mind that we’re doing our best for a good cause, on very short notice. 

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  1. I can’t wait to participate!