25 Easy Ways to Give Back During the Holidays

It’s so easy to get caught up in all the “I wants.” Don't forget about those in need. Here's a list of 25 Easy Ways to Give Back During the Holidays.

It’s so easy to get caught up in all the “I wants.” Don't forget about those in need. Here's a list of 25 Easy Ways to Give Back During the Holidays.

It’s so easy this time of year to get caught up in all the “I wants.” I do it myself. For instance, I want a new case for my iPad, and probably a lot of wine. I definitely want all the coffee. Perfect Christmas presents.

However, it’s also the time of year when we need to focus on others. Your co-workers, strangers around you, public figures, and the less fortunate. I’ve compiled a list for you of 25 Easy Ways to Give Back During the Holidays.

1. Make blankets for Project Linus. This organizations gives blankets to children who are ill, traumatized, or in need. You can knit, crochet, sew, basically anything.

2. Neighborhood Secret Santa.  Pick a family in need in your neighborhood and secretly drop off packages filled with decorations, gifts, cookies, etc. You can take it a step further and do this the 12 days leading up to Christmas.

3. Volunteer to feed the poor.

4. Donate blood to the American Red Cross. You could save a life!

5. Deliver baked goods to your local fire station, police station, and EMS. (However, in light of current events, you may want to include a card with your name and home address so they know you’re not a nut-job trying to poison them all. It’s a sad world, but better safe than sorry.)

It’s so easy to get caught up in all the “I wants.” Don't forget about those in need. Here's a list of 25 Easy Ways to Give Back During the Holidays.

6. Organize a toy drive.

7. Pay for someone else’s drink. If you’re standing in line at a coffee shop, pay it forward and pick up the tab for the person behind you.

8. Donate your children’s old toys. I love seeing posts where parents had their children pick a few older (but gently used) toys for donation to make room for their new toys. Donate them to your local church, children’s hospital, or Goodwill.

It’s so easy to get caught up in all the “I wants.” Don't forget about those in need. Here's a list of 25 Easy Ways to Give Back During the Holidays.

9. Adopt a family through Salvation Army. Contact your local Salvation Army to get a family’s wish list including toys, clothing sizes, and family needs.

10. Visit a local veteran’s hospital or nursing home.  Bring baked goods or holiday cards, sing carols, or just sit and visit for a bit.

11. Make a holiday package for the troops.  There are so many ways and organizations for this. Just a few are Support Our Troops, Operation Shoebox, Operation Gratitude, and Holiday Mail for Heroes (via American Red Cross).

12. Have a bake sale and donate all the proceeds to a local charity.

13. Bake some goodies for your mailman, garbage man, etc.

14. Donate to a food bank. Some grocery stores make it easy and have bags ready to purchase and just leave there. I’ve even seen some events that waive the entrance fee in exchange for a few canned goods.

15. Make gifts for your elderly neighbors. This can be as simple as a stocking filled with tea and cookies or a hand-delivered holiday craft made by the kids.

16. Overtip your waiter/waitress.  A little extra goes a long way, even if it just makes them smile.

17. Operation Christmas Child.  Pack a shoebox with toys and goodies. You can check their website for local drop-off locations, or you can print a shipping label from them as well.

18. Shop locally.  Yes, it’s ridiculously easy to just go to Amazon and have whatever you need in two days, but think about what your business could mean to the local, small-business bookshop downtown. 

19. Donate old coats and sweaters. Kids outgrow these so quickly. Just pack up last year’s sizes and donate them to a local church, Goodwill, hospital, etc.

20. Do a holiday 5k.  This one is great for everyone! You get a great physical experience, and the proceeds go to a worthy cause.

21. Be nice to people.  Yes, this should go without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway! Stress runs high this time of year, so just try to not spread it around. Smile at people, say thank you, and give them a compliment. You could turn someone’s bad day into a good day, and then they’ll pass on the positivity. 

22. Bring goodies to your co-workers.  Leave a box of cookies on the break room table (they don’t have to be homemade), or maybe a cheese and veggie tray in the fridge. Even a simple holiday card with a candy cane will do the trick.

23. Make blessings bags for the homeless.  These are simple brown paper bags filled with everyday essentials – toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, gloves, socks, etc. There’s a million ideas for these on Pinterest.

24. Make a donation to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. This is as simple as tossing some change in the red bucket at your McDonald’s drive-thru. You could also check out their website to find a location near you. They could always use toys and baby supplies. I’m very passionate about the RMHC. Find out why here.

25. Don’t forget about those working on the holidays. There are first responders, hospital staff, restaurant/retail workers, and so many others working on the holidays. Bring them food, coffee, or candy. Or just stop by to tell them thank you. 

It’s so easy to get caught up in all the “I wants.” Don't forget about those in need. Here's a list of 25 Easy Ways to Give Back During the Holidays.

There are so many ways to give back during the holidays, and I know I left off probably about a million. At least. I tried to keep these simple, as I know we’ve all got our hands full. While you’re out and about doing the holiday bustle, just take a few extra moments and think of others who might be in need. It’s a great lesson to teach our children.

Here’s my favorite thing about this list: people are in need all year around. If you can’t squeeze these in now, hang on to this list for later in the year when you can. If you’re inspired by this list, share it! You might encourage someone else to start giving back!

So what did I leave off of this list? What’s your favorite way of giving back? How many of these do you think you could accomplish with your family this year?

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About Samantha

I am a SAHM to three kids and a menagerie of pets. I love coffee, books, crafts, wine, cooking, and more coffee. Seriously, I couldn't function without coffee. Read more about me!


  1. This is a wonderful list! My husband works in retail and we always make a point to bring in lot’s of goodies for his co-workers/employees. They are working long shifts this time of year!

  2. As a former first responder, I can’t begin to describe the gratitude we all felt when someone brought us baked goods or pizza, or just thanked us for our efforts. And single folks, offer to take that Christmas morning shift so your co-workers with small children can be home to see the kids’ reaction to Santa’s visit! The kids are only small for a short time, and these are very special memories.

  3. I really love this list and appreciate these tips. We are always thinking of ways we can give back rather than just “get” over Christmas and these are wonderful ideas. Thank you.

  4. Hi Samantha,
    I really appreciate that you have a heart for the underpreviliged.
    Good work.

    Eat Healthy Stay Healthy 🙂

    Myda Tahir

  5. Great ideas here! I love the idea of Project Linus but had never heard of it – going to check it out! I also didn’t realize that you could adopt a family through the Salvation Army. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I love your blog, especially this post! It’s so important to teach our little ones kindness and love, and this post has so many great ideas!!

  7. I love this post! I think it’s crucial to inject some kindness into the world, especially during the holiday season when people are most susceptible to depression. To see a little glimmer in the world can often turn someone’s whole month around.
    We just donated three giant bags full of my son’s toys. Even at 17 months, he protested a little, but I’m looking forward to teaching him that they’re going to a good cause when he gets older.

    Thank you again for sharing– I hope this encourages some people to get out there and do good.

  8. What a wonderful way to give back during this time of year. This is what the main focus should be, and this gave me some great ideas!

  9. Love each and every way you have described to give back during the holidays. It’s so heartbreaking to know there are many people who can’t enjoy the holidays like many privileged ones do. We can all do one small bit and make it a brighter holiday season for everyone. Thank you for sharing some great ideas! I’m off to implement some.

  10. Great suggestions! You have a good list here for anyone, regardless of income, to find something they can do to help. I would add to #15, disabled. Not many people do so they kind of get left out during the holidays.

    • Thank you, Jessica. I know most people’s budgets are stretched pretty thin during the holidays, so I tried to think of low-cost ways to help. And you are absolutely right!

  11. Fantastic reminder that it can be super easy to give to those in need! Great article!! Another one I would add is finding out what is in need at your local women’s shelter and donate there.

  12. I always make cookie trays and take them to the CHP office since they work such hellish hours during the holidays. This year I sponsored a family for the holidays, my husband and I had fun shopping for them.

  13. I’ve never heard of operation Linus before, but now I need to make a blanket or two. Thank you for this great list. I’m always looking for ways to help.

  14. What a great list 🙂
    I love giving back during the holiday season.

    xoxo, Jenny

  15. Omg, I love this list. All of the ideas are so wonderful! I’m setting up a donation for my city’s city missioni organization. It feels so good to give back 🙂

  16. Great ideas. I like the idea of baking some cookies for mailman. Thank you so much !

  17. Love this, simple and wonderful ideas to show kindness to others.
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