Breathe in, and feel the relief of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping frenzy being behind us. A deal is a lovely thing, but the bargains of the season can overwhelm and feel distant from the reason for presents: to show others that we care about them. This December, whatever holiday you celebrate, take some time to think about ways you can give back in your community and around the world, whether it’s gifting time, money, or presents.
Give Back With Your Gifts
Don’t be a Grinch when it comes to gifting – some people, particularly young ones, love a good gift. For them, spend on thoughtful, caring presents. But if perhaps your gift-giving list is full of people who are less focused on presents, consider gifting in ways that give back. Some options are:
- Buy an animal: At Heifer International, you can give an animal – such as a pig or cow – to a family in need. This can feel more satisfying than making a donation; your money is providing something tangible. World Vision also offers the opportunity to purchase an animal.
- Presents that pay it forward: Some companies are structured to give when you buy on a year-round basis. Shoe purveyor TOMS has a one-for-one program, which gives a pair of shoes to a person in need for every shoe purchased; Warby Parker does the same with eyeglasses. Around the holiday season, it’s easy to discover many companies that do something similar – for instance, Kiehls has committed a million millions to families this holiday season, with profits from certain items going directly toward Feeding America. Looking for great gifting options? Find roundups at Oprah.com, Country Living, The Huffington Post, Harpers Bazaar, and elsewhere on the internet.
Make a Donation
Who’s on your gifting list? If they don’t need a present in their hands, consider making a donation in their name. You can choose one charity, and give a lump sum for all the people on your list, or make a donation for each person, giving to a charity that’s meaningful and close to each person’s heart. And don’t forget that winter is a great time to donate gently used coats, food, electronics, and anything around your house to organizations such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army that sell these items to benefit others.
Request Donations Instead of Hostess Presents
If you have well-mannered guests coming to a holiday gathering at your home, they’re likely to show up with pretty soaps, bottles of wine, or flowers to thank you for having them over. If you don’t have a need for these items, you can request on your invitation that in lieu of host and hostess presents, guests make a contribution to the charity of your choice. Or, ask guests to bring along gently worn clothing or canned goods, and donate all that you receive the day after the party.
Spend Time, Not Money
Don’t forget the value of your time this holiday season. In general, charitable organizations are most eager for financial donations, but don’t underestimate the need for people to participate in soup kitchens, help sort donations, or deliver meals. A quick search online for your location will reveal volunteer opportunities.
Remember Those Far From Home
Those serving in the military may not get to spend time with their family, or even in the same continent as their family. Bring the holiday season to them – the USO sends gift boxes to the military, and you can send cards or mail with the Red Cross’ Holiday Mail for Heroes program.
How will you be giving back this holiday season? Tell us your favorite way to volunteer or donate during the holidays.