12 Powerful (and Inexpensive) Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

We have all heard it before: the holidays are a time for giving, for selflessness and random acts of kindness. It feels good to give, not only for the recipient but for the giver as well; many scientific studies show giving, especially in the form of social support, to be associated with higher psychological well-being, increased self-esteem and decreased feelings of loneliness and depression.

Despite all these perks, giving or rather deciding what to give during the holiday season can often feel like a daunting task. What do you get that serious, stubborn father in-law or gothic, ‘cheered by nothing’ adolescent step sister? Perhaps the stress and busy malls have squashed your excitement to give, and the thought of Christmas approaching (and all the gifts you have yet to buy) introduces panic. Plus, with too many friends and family members to count, how do you soften the financial blow to your bank account? Although this article may not answer all your probing questions directly (I’m sorry, I don’t know what to get your eccentric aunt any more than you do), hopefully it will inspire and reawaken the giver in you, not only for your close social circle, but for strangers and the community as well. Below are 12 powerful and inexpensive ways to give back this holiday season.

1) Buy an experience on Groupon

Sometimes the last thing someone needs is another candle holder and decorative coffee mug taking up space. Check out for experiences you can deliver as gifts and possibly even be a part of! Buy a couples massage for you and your partner, or a sushi making workshop. Giving an experience versus a tangible gift will make your present that much more memorable, plus Groupon offers incredible discounts (or should I say korting)!

2) Share a sweet treat

Surprise your spouse or a friend after work and take them to a bakery or cafe. Treat them to any chocolate delicacy or creamy cheesecake their heart desires. Indulge in a sweet treat and a warm, friendly conversation.

3) Mail a Christmas card to this little girl

Two years ago, Safyre Terry’s father and three younger siblings were killed in a fire. She was found next to her dad, who used his body to shield her from the flames. Safyre Terry has burns over 75% over her body and has one wish for Christmas: enough cards to fill her aunt’s card tree. Send her yours at the address below:

Safyre Terry
P.O. Box 6126 Schenectady, NY 12306, USA.

4) Donate old clothes and toys

Make space for the New Year and donate clothes you and your family no longer wear, or toys your children no longer play with.

5) Throw a canned goods party!

If you plan on throwing a party this holiday season, ask your guests to bring canned goods which you’ll later collect and donate to hungry families in need.

6) Make your own Christmas card

Making a Christmas card rather than buying one shows the recipient you care enough to put in the extra effort. Even if you’re not the artistic type, trust me, your home-made card and the extra time you took to create it will be appreciated. If you’re deeply opposed to drawing anything by hand, you can always create one digitally! If you want to take it a step further, write the recipient a kind letter or cute poem within the card.

7) Create a small photo album or collage

One of my favorite things to receive from friends are personalized collages or photo filled albums of our previous memories and shared time together. I love when someone takes the time to create a unique and personalized gift I can’t buy anywhere in stores! Looking through old photographs not only creates a warm nostalgic feeling, but will also strengthen the relationship between the giver and the recipient.

8) Bake some holiday cookies and bring them to work for your coworkers

cookiesYou could bake gingersnaps, gingerbread, macaroons, or shortbread to name a few! Your coworkers will love you!

Make it a family bonding event, and get your kids to join in on the baking and decorating. Below are some recipes to try out:

Old Fashion Ginger Bread Men
Lemon Shortbread
Soft Christmas Cookies
Chocolate Dipped Pistachio Biscotti

9) Get your kids in the giving spirit!

Don’t guilt your kids into giving, but communicate to them that certain families and children aren’t lucky enough to have a bountiful Christmas. Getting your young ones involved in a charitable activity is a great way to teach them values of gratitude, compassion and kindness.  Perhaps suggest some ideas like donating a toy or creating a card for a hospitalized child, but ultimately, allow them to choose for themselves how they would like to give; this will make the activity not only more engaging, but more meaningful for them as well.

10) Offer to babysit

Offer to babysit for a friend or relative; take care of their kids for an evening or supervise an afternoon play date with your own. As much as parents love and adore their own children, everyone is in need of a break once in a while. Who knows perhaps your friend craves some “mommy alone time” with a bubble bath and a good book, or your favorite couple could use a romantic evening away from the kids. It never hurts to ask, if anything your offer will be appreciated even if declined!

11) Donate monetarily to a charity

No matter how big or small, every donation counts! Not sure where to start? Check out Investopedia’s tips on How to Pick a Charity.

12) Strive to be a giver all year round!

Giving and selfless acts should be something we strive for all year round, not only during the holidays. If you’re a regular donor to charity and volunteer within your district then good for you! If your community contributions slightly lacked this past year, reflect on how you can give more in the future. Perhaps make it one of your New Year resolutions to volunteer once a month at your local food bank, or write yourself random sticky notes throughout the house, label them with comments like “do something nice for someone today.” You could even take a sticky note out the door with you and post it, along with a kind note, under a stranger’s windshield. Be creative, there are many ways to give!

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