The holiday season is a time for giving back. And although giving back is something we should be doing during the entire year, we can’t help but feel a more meaningful connection to give back during the holidays. If you’re looking to give back, but unsure how or where to start, I’ve put together 14 ways to GIVE during this magical time of year.
Happy holidays, my giving friends! <3
# 1 – Donate to a charity
When people think of giving back, they often think of a monetary donation to a charity. Donating, what you can, to a charity you believe in is a beautiful way of giving back this holiday season. Even a few dollars can make a difference. There are countless charities out there, each with their own cause, striving to make real, positive differences in this world. But, please do your research before you donate! You want to be sure the charity is legitimate.
I like using CharityNavigator.org to learn more about the charities I’m interested in, and then to make an informed decision on which one to choose.
# 2 – Volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen
Another wonderful way to give back this holiday season is to give your time. Helping out at your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen is a profound way of giving back to those in need. We often underestimate the power of a helpful hand, a positive comment, or a simple smile. And what’s more, you learn invaluable lessons from volunteering. Lessons like what it takes to persevere in the face of tragedy, about the strength of the human spirit, and that we’re all more alike than we are different.
# 3 – Pay for the next person in line
Paying for the person behind you in line, at the coffee shop, at lunch, or even at the movie theatre, is a simple way of giving back. It’s a guaranteed way to make someone’s day. And you never know how that person’s day had been up until that point. What if you become the one thing that changed this stranger’s terrible day into a happier one? All with a simple act of kindness. Pretty amazing stuff.
Related: 58 Random Acts of Kindness
# 4 – Donate to a food bank
Next time you’re at the grocery store, spend a few dollars and pick up some non-perishable food items. Donating these to your local food bank helps feed families in need during the holiday season. Some healthier options to give include low-sodium canned beans, veggies, soups and stews; whole-grain pasta, rice, cereal and oatmeal; and canned fruit packed in water.
# 5 – Donate supplies to a local school
Schools are always in need of supplies. I’m sure we’ve all heard of budget cuts to the schools in our city. Contacting your local school, finding out what supplies they need, and then donating some, makes for a simple yet a surefire way to make a real difference in the education of those students.
# 6 – Volunteer at a local hospital
Volunteering at your local hospital is a simple, yet profound way to give back this holiday season. The ability to bring joy, laughter, or just a simple distraction, to those who are facing illness is something we tend to underestimate the power of. As the incredibly wise Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
If you can make even one person feel brighter with your visit, that can become a meaningful and unforgettable way to improve their state of mind. It may also give them more strength and hope to keep pushing through their illness.
# 7 – Donate blood
Giving blood can save someone’s life. Saving a life is the ultimate form of giving back. This form of giving back is often overlooked because it tends to scare people away. If you’re someone who has thought about giving blood, but just never got around to doing it, I encourage you to do it this holiday season. There’s no better time than the present to become a literal life-saver – the world needs more life-savers out there (and no, I’m not referring to the ring-shaped hard candy!).
# 8 – Donate toys to your local toy drive
Unfortunately, the holiday season often becomes synonymous with gift-giving. Although many of us try to teach our children about the deeper meaning of the holidays (that it’s a time for celebrating loved ones and giving back, for instance), children may have difficulty fully understanding this concept. Especially when all their friends are bragging about the gifts they’ve received.
Let’s face it, as incredible as this time of year can be, it can be devastating for a child to not receive a gift due to a family’s financial difficulties. One way of helping all children to receive a gift during the holidays is to donate to your local toy drive. There are many toy drives out there during the holiday season. I encourage you to research what’s available in your city and consider donating to this cause.
# 9 – Clean out your closets and donate items to the Goodwill or homeless shelter
This form of giving back also benefits the “giver.” Organizing and decluttering your space is beneficial to your mental health. Research has shown this. Taking the time to make improvements in your life, while also donating items to those in need, makes this form of giving back a no-brainer all year round.
# 10 – Leave a generous tip for someone who has served you well
We’ve all heard of small acts of kindness. This act is a perfect example of that. Leaving a tip for someone who has served you well, a waitress or taxi driver, for instance, is a small way of expressing gratitude while also a powerful enough way to make someone’s day. Leaving a tip, or even a positive review online, for a hardworking individual or business that has helped you out, shouldn’t be something that we overlook.
Being kind and grateful, even in these small and simple ways, can change the world – one person and one teeny generous act at a time. After all, positivity is contagious!
# 11 – Send a Thank You note to someone who has helped you out recently
I like the idea of sending a Thank You note because you’ve put in the effort to express gratitude to someone. This is becoming rarer and rarer in today’s day and age. There is something powerful about the handwritten word, and when you’ve taken the time to express gratitude to someone thoughtfully, this can brighten someone’s day or days to come. Sending a Thank You note is a beautiful way of expressing gratitude all year round, and shouldn’t be overlooked as a way of giving back during the holiday season.
# 12 – Donate food and/or supplies to a local animal shelter
All you fellow animal lovers out there will appreciate this one. I love my fur baby, and the thought of other fur babies out there without a home is heartbreaking. Donating to a local animal shelter is a way of giving back to these beautiful, loving animals during the holiday season. Being kind to our furry friends is a way of giving back that is often overlooked, but equally as important and impactful.
# 13 – Compliment a stranger
This is a straightforward one, another small act of kindness. A compliment is a powerful way to spread love and positivity. It’s a simple way of creating a kinder and gentler world. Genuinely complimenting a stranger will brighten their day, and is a thoughtful way to give back this holiday season.
# 14 – Host a Feast
Invite friends and family over and treat them to good food and good company. The holidays can be difficult for individuals without family or friends to spend it with. Inviting these friends of yours over is a way of bringing more joy and love into their lives. Who doesn’t want to feel loved and cared for, especially during this time of year?
Cooking extra and providing your guests with this food as they leave is another way to give when you host a get-together this holiday season.
The truth is, there are countless ways to give back during this special time of year, both big and small, and I hope that you find a way that means the most to you. A giving heart is a beautiful heart.