woman looking at bow of a wrapped present
April 26, 2019

How to Give Back Over the Holidays

The things most people look forward to over the holidays typically include delicious food, giving gifts, and time with loved ones. But what if you could spread all that warmth and happiness a little further?

There are selfish reasons for being selfless, of course. Who doesn’t love that cozy, fuzzy feeling that comes from making someone else’s day a bit brighter? Here’s a little more inspo to help you give something back this holiday season.

Volunteer at a food bank or donate produce that could help feed individuals and families in need.

Volunteer at a Homeless Shelter

So much of the holiday season is about what we eat. But plenty of people face a daily struggle to feed themselves and their families. This becomes doubly hard when it’s cold outside.

Shelters and food banks get even busier over the winter, and this can also be one of the loneliest times of year for those without homes or families.

Check out the Homeless Shelter Directory to find places that might need help in your area, or go to Feeding America to locate the nearest food banks. Look into volunteering, joining a food drive, or simply putting together a donation.

Gift-giving can bring happiness to people other than the recipient – look for companies that donate to charity or support social enterprises.

Buy Gifts That Really Give Back

Gifts can be about more than unwrapping something pretty and shiny. Many products, from clothing to fluffy alpaca toys, come with the added value of a donation to charity, or supporting enterprises in impoverished communities.

Look for Fair Trade and ethically sourced products. Try Ethical Market, a collective of sellers and artisan makers who donate a proportion of their sales or contribute to providing sustainable employment.

Invite a Service Member to Dinner

Playing host over the holidays, or planning a get-together with friends? Operation We Are Here, a charity focused on helping improve the lives of members of the military, veterans and their families, has details on how you can “adopt” a serviceman or woman by inviting them to share your dinner.

If you’re heading home for mom’s mashed potatoes or grandma’s green bean casserole, use your most persuasive arguments and charming smile to ask them to take part. Even if that isn’t possible, the charity encourages donations of meals and ingredients, so you can still do your bit to give back this winter—and make it a happier occasion for all.

Give a few hours of your time to join volunteer clean-up operations.

Clean Up

Search community forums and noticeboards to find clean ups you can join at a local park, beach or neighborhood. Whether it’s picking up litter or helping recovery efforts following a disaster like a storm or fire, every person involved can make a huge difference.

This can be a great way to meet likeminded members of the community, too, and feel a sense of camaraderie while doing something good.

Visit Someone in a Hospital

Not everyone is surrounded by friends and family over the holiday season. And being lonely is even worse for those stuck in a hospital. Inquire at nearby hospitals to see if there’s anyone who might benefit from a friendly visit and a little company, and maybe take them a piece of pie to spread some cheer.

Hospital staff would probably appreciate a slice, too.

Gifting someone a cup of coffee or a heartfelt compliment can make a big difference to their day (and yours).

Make Their Day

Surprise a stranger with a good deed, whether it’s a slice of cake, a coffee, or even a simple but heartfelt compliment. It could be the guy you pass on the street every day, huddled in a sleeping bag. It could be that girl you always see in the elevator on your way to work. Or maybe it’s a neighbor who looks a little lonely.

A great way to spread the holiday cheer and give back this winter, a kind deed can go a lot further than you think.