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A kid shoveling snow in a neighbor’s driveway to give back during the holiday season.

12 Ways to Give Back during the Holidays

Although the weather is cold, the season of giving is full of warmth and joy. Spread the cheer with these ideas that help you give back during the holidays.

As we head into the giving season, with holidays like Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday, and Christmas, it’s all the more important to find ways to give back. Not only is giving back a way to show appreciation for your loved ones, but it’s also a great way to give a deeper meaning to the holidays, which are centered around selfless gratitude, kindness, and giving.

Whether you want to thank your neighbor for shoveling your driveway or help a cause that’s close to your heart, these activities will help you give back during the holidays.

After all, this cold season is the best time to create a warm atmosphere where everyone feels loved.

1. Bake Treats to Share

The epitome of warmth, a tray full of cookies fresh from the oven are the best way to give back during the holidays. A seasonal treat, a nostalgic flavor, any holiday treat you bake, set some aside to share with your family, friends, and neighbors. It’s a small thing, but this one gesture of kindness shows your loved ones you were thinking about them. And it gives them a joyful taste of the holidays.

You could even go one step above and beyond and invite your loved ones to a cookie baking party. All they have to bring is themselves and a recipe to share.

2. Go Caroling

Music heals the soul, or at least your body, as research has proven. And one of the best activities during the holidays is singing Christmas carols. Once Thanksgiving is past, you have the green light to start caroling (even before then if you’re brave). This is a great way to share those treats you baked and to bring joy to everyone around you.

3. Perform Acts of Kindness

Although it seems a bit broad, acts of kindness are an integral part of the holidays. If you want people to feel loved, you give them a small gift, invite them to celebrate with you, and just generally do small things to make them feel appreciated. If you want to be more intentional with your kindness, if you want to reach more people, then set a goal for the season (and all year). You can plan to do something kind for someone new every week or make a checklist of ways you want to give back during the holidays.

4. Volunteer at a Local Charity

As everyone gets wrapped up in their lives and the holiday hustle and bustle, there are plenty of individuals that need some love. Spend some time volunteering at a local charity or community organization. Many places need extra help during the holiday season, whether it’s serving meals at a soup kitchen, wrapping gifts for those in need, or organizing holiday events.

5. Donate

There are plenty of organizations that could use some help in the form of money—or better yet, physical items. Blankets, jackets, gloves, food, books, and so much more. Consider organizing a donation drive at your workplace, school, or within your community. Alternatively, you can find plenty of opportunities from charitable businesses and other non-profits.

From now until the end of the year (December 31, 2023), we are donating a book for every book purchased from our website. These donations will go to the Central Valley Children’s Services Network to help a child in need because we believe that everyone deserves to experience the joy of reading. Thank you for helping us make a difference!

6. Adopt a Family or Individual

Many organizations offer programs where you can “adopt” a family or individual in need. You’ll be given a list of their holiday wishes, and you can purchase and wrap gifts for them. Or you can reach out personally to people in your community that are in need or that don’t have anyone to spend the holidays with. You can deliver gifts, care packages, holiday meals, or invite them to celebrate with you and your family. It’s a personal and meaningful way to make a direct impact.

7. Visit a Nursing Home or Hospital

So many people are lonely during the holidays, especially those who are staying in care facilities. The best way to give back to your community is to visit those who need a little joy. Visit a nursing home or hospital, or friends and neighbors who are stuck at home during the holidays. You can bring cards, sing carols, or simply engage in conversations to lift spirits. Some places even have great holiday events, like writing letters to Santa, and they could use your help. If there’s nothing like that in your area, you could organize something small. The littlest things go a long way.

8. Write Letters to Service Members

Many military personnel are away from their families during the holidays. Consider writing letters of appreciation and support to service members stationed overseas. Organizations like Operation Gratitude can help facilitate this. This is also a great chance to invite other friends and family to join you. By giving together, you will also be giving to each other.

9. Organize a Toy Drive

Every child deserves to unwrap a fun toy at Christmas. Collect new, unwrapped toys to donate to organizations that distribute gifts to children in need. Toys for Tots is well-known for their holiday toy drives. You can also organize your own toy drive to give back to kids within your own community.

10. Create Care Packages

Going without even the bare essentials during the holidays is something that nobody should have to experience. And you can give back to your community by taking care of these simple needs. Assemble care packages with essential items like toiletries, socks, blankets, and non-perishable snacks. Distribute these packages to homeless individuals, families suffering from financial strain, or kids in your community. You can also partner with local shelters and clubs to give back on a bigger scale.

11. Offer Your Skills or Services

Money and physical items are great for the season of giving, but you can also give back by using your skills. Consider how your skills or services can benefit others. Whether it’s offering to shovel snow for elderly neighbors, providing free tutoring, or offering your professional skills to a nonprofit, your expertise can make a difference.

12. Support Local Businesses

Individuals are an important part of your community, but so are the local and small businesses. It’s just as important to give back to the organizations in your community as it is to give to those in need. Choose to shop locally, especially at businesses that give back to the community. Your purchases can support local economies and contribute to the success of businesses that are actively involved in charitable initiatives.

Gifts Are All about Time and Love

As cliché as it is, it really is the thought that counts. Giving back doesn’t always have to involve money—your time and effort can be equally valuable. Whether big or small, every act of kindness contributes to building a better, more compassionate community. If you find a cause that resonates with you, the whole experience can be more fulfilling and make a positive impact this holiday season.

Get Inspired to Give Back with These Books

The cover of the board book Thankful Animals, Thankful Me.

Thankful Animals, Thankful Me

The cover of the board book Lit for Little Hands: A Christmas Carol.
Lit for Little Hands

A Christmas Carol

The cover of the picture book I'll Love You for Always.

I’ll Love You for Always

Shaelyn Topolovec earned a BA in editing and publishing from BYU, worked on several online publications, and joined the Familius family. Shae is currently an editor and copywriter who lives in California’s Central Valley.

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