Another Christmas, another set of statistics showing almost a million elderly people will spend the festive season alone. Yet, how many of us faced with these startling figures will actually take action at a time of the year when we are supposed to be charitable?

An estimated 873,000 people aged 65 and over aren't contacted by anyone during the Christmas period, according to Age UK. Two fifths of those are widowed, the charity found. Year round, 1.8 million older people feel chronically lonely.

So how can we help older people facing a Christmas with nothing but their TV set to keep them company?

Pick up the phone

Age UK is urging members of the public to sign up to its Call in Time scheme. This simply involves regularly calling vulnerable older people.

Eliza, a 29-year-old from Barnstaple, calls Susan, 90, every Thursday. Susan's husband died suddenly around Christmas, meaning she finds holidays doubly tough. A simple chat on the phone boosts her spirits.

"I feel like I know Eliza very well. I love hearing about her plans and keeping in touch with little titbits of her life. I look forward to her call every week, I really do," she told HuffPost.

While you're at it, give your elderly family members and neighbours a buzz, too.

Gather gifts

Giving and receiving gifts is an integral part of Christmas and an important way to show appreciation for one another. Isolated older people, however, won't expect anything on the 25th.

So be inspired by Suzanne Gunson and her daughters Amy and Lizzie, who have gathered more than 1,200 gifts after they launched a Facebook drive for donations. They expect to give 356 men and women across Huddersfield gifts.

"Older people should be honoured and not become invisible as they sometimes are," Suzanne told The Huddersfield Daily Examiner.

Use you secret Santa gift for good

Sure, a novelty jumper for that guy in IT you barely know is a funny gift (for about two minutes) – but instead of some cheap tat, consider donating that money to a charity.

The Silver Line, for instance, is a helpline for isolated older people which is open every night of the year. They say that just £5 can pay for someone to man their phones during Christmas.

Make your new year's resolution about more than losing weight

The holidays are a time when we reflect on how to improve ourselves – and that's perfectly fine. But as well as navel-gazing challenges like cutting down on booze and losing weight, add volunteering to your list. Reaching out to older people shouldn't be something that we do for a week once a year because we feel guilty.

Contact The Elderly, for instance, reports that it receives a glut of requests to host older people around December that they have to turn down. Instead, they prioritise creating links friendship links throughout the year. The organisation hosts monthly tea parties with elderly people across the country, which are run by volunteers.