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.)
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.
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.
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?