How often do we say the holiday season will be different as the season rolls around again?
We’ll focus on giving and others more than succumbing to the busyness of the season.
We’ll slow down and truly focus on what we can be thankful for versus filling our priorities with Christmas lights, decorations and the mall.
Those things are certainly okay and a fun part of the season, but if you’re looking for some ways to consider others and giving more of yourself this season, we think these 10 ideas will get you started.
1. Use Your Skills and Talents
Perhaps you’re a great cook, possess handyman skills for projects around the house, or know your way around cars. People need this type of assistance all the time. Of course most of the time they don’t come knocking on your door looking for help. You have to be proactive and find them.
Consider volunteering your skills through your local church or nonprofit. Let them know your skills and interests and that you’d like to donate a few hours each week or month to help those in need.
2. Create Snack Packs
Depending on where you live, you may come across homeless people from time to time on the side of the road. An alternative to handing out cash is to create some snack packs and keep them in your car. Include fruit, snacks, water, or whatever you think. Buy in bulk from food clubs and make your packs at home. As soon as you see someone in need, or if approached at a stop sign, offer them one of your packs.
3. Serve Meals
If you’re not comfortable with the above option, there are plenty of homeless organizations in which you can volunteer to serve meals either in their kitchen or with a group of people on the streets. Such organizations are always looking for assistance and as with offering your skills, you can volunteer a certain amount of hours per month. Some companies will actually allow you to do so during work hours as a way to give back. Check into it with your HR department.
4. Hold a Giving Party
A few years ago my wife and daughter organized a party where all the children brought gifts for less fortunate kids. The gifts were put in a big box when each child arrived at the party. Our family then took the box to a homeless shelter right before Christmas and donated it. This was a fantastic way for kids in the neighborhood to participate in helping other children and learn the importance of giving versus getting during the holiday season.
5. Angel Tree
Another way to provide thoughtful gifts to other children is to participate in Angel Tree. This is a wonderful organization that provides the ability to help support a prisoner’s child. You pick a child based on age, gender, gift amount, etc. and participate as a family in sponsoring the child’s Christmas. You can find Angel Trees at your local mall throughout the holiday season.
6. Teach Kids to Serve
An easy idea to teach your kids to serve and focus on helping others is to help them create serving tickets. Write on the tickets “Return for Help” and anything else you’d like it to say. The child gives the ticket to someone and when that person needs help, they simply give the child the ticket and ask them to assist them in a small chore around their house. You can pass a few tickets around the neighborhood with your child or let your child hand out tickets to friends and family.
7. Give Financial Resources
An obvious way to give is to simply give money. You can certainly give to your church and a nonprofit that you’d like to support. I recommend giving to your church first since it’s money that supports the operations of the church as well as the work it does in the surrounding community. You can certainly go above and beyond by giving towards a charity that is founded on the same values you have.
While you’re thinking about giving money, consider making it a regular habit and not just around the holidays. Try to arrange your monthly spending plan to provide gifts right off the top! This is a great way to keep money in perspective and to make sure it’s not in the driver’s seat and controlling your life.
Similar to donating your skills and talents, there are plenty of young children and teens that need a male or female mentor. There are many cases in which there is just one parent and a father or mother figure can help fill a much needed role. Check with local schools to participate. Your church may offer a program as well. You can also do some research online for mentoring programs and find plenty of options.
9. Sponsor a Child
Organizations such as Align Ministries create opportunities for people to sponsor children in Africa. Your donation can provide education, water, food, clothing and other resources to children who are facing substantially difficult circumstances. This is such a wonderful way to make a difference in this world and positively impact another human and give them hope for the future. There are many organizations you can work with so be sure to conduct your own research to find the one that is best for you.
10. Donate Unwanted Items
When was the last time you cleaned out your closet? Been a while, huh? Well, this is a great time of year to pick one closet or room per weekend and create a donation box for each. You can drop off the box at your local Goodwill or Homeless shelter. Goodwill provides low cost items for people and uses the money to create jobs for workers.
What things are you doing to give more this holiday season?
Photo credit: Valerie Everett