I sat staring at my computer screen. There were tabs open from Amazon, a few local businesses, and some gift lists from a couple mom bloggers. I had begun planning for the holiday season. First, you start thinking about who you are buying for. Then, you start thinking of what you might purchase. Making a list, checking it twice. Ultimately, after thinking and scrolling for a while, I felt uncomfortable. Something was missing.
I began reflecting on what matters at this time of year. Things like traditions, spending time with family, eating yummy food. Additionally, I thought about how much spreading love and kindness matter too. The love and kindness stuck with me. We need both in excess this particular holiday season. Instead of scrolling endlessly and looking at products, I pivoted and began going in a different direction. I began focusing on the giving. Not the giving of presents, but of giving back this holiday season. Giving your time, talents, and treasure. Thinking about service and good deeds.
This holiday season people are mourning.
This holiday season people are struggling and isolated.
If there’s ever a time to be intentional about giving back, it is this year. I’ve collected ideas to help you get into the season of giving.
Give Your Time
Time is a precious commodity, especially for busy moms and parents. Sometimes I barely have time to shower or brush my teeth, so giving time might feel overwhelming. That’s understandable. However, I encourage you to think of the giving of your time as a very thoughtful, meaningful gift. Here are a few ways to give your time:
- Make a list of friends/relatives/neighbors that you know would love spending extra time with you. After that, schedule a socially-distant walk, make a FaceTime date. Call them. Text them.
- Research organizations that may need hands to wrap or deliver presents. Many charities and religious organizations collect gifts to give out around the holidays. Here is an example of what Schuler’s Books does. Also, there are volunteer options like this one for the Child and Family Services of Michigan.
- Donate your time to other organizations to grocery shop for a family in need, cook a meal, or tutor/mentor. A great example is the Haven House in East Lansing. They provide shelter and emergency services to families with children. See their website here for volunteering details. Another fantastic organization to consider giving your time to is Weekend Survival Kits. This organization aims to help ensure school-age children have meals on the weekend.
- Create and send cards to friends and strangers alike. Nursing homes would love extra cheer, especially this year. Family members you aren’t able to see right now would be so grateful to receive a hand-written note. You can involve the whole family in this extra labor or love. Check out the Write On Campaign that has many examples of ways to get involved.
Give Your Talent
I love reading and am especially fond of children’s picture books. I also find so much joy helping people find the perfect book. Already this year I’ve been asked by friends on a few occasions to recommend books to purchase for gifts. It warms my heart to know that I could encourage and support reading in this way. Each of us has strengths that are appreciated by our friends and family. Think of using your skills as a gift this holiday season. Here are a few examples to give your talents:
- Do you love taking pictures? Offer to take family pictures for friends and neighbors.
- Are you a great planner? Create a holiday card for an over-worked family member.
- In the medical field? Make a great cold/flu/coronavirus season kit to give to others.
- Charities are always looking for people with certain skills to add to their volunteer team. Consider finding an organization you support, contact them, and see if they need anything that you can help provide. Charities are often looking for people with experience in graphic design, marketing, fundraising, or writing grants. In addition, they are always grateful to people who are handy or can build to help with the upkeep of their facilities.
Give Your Treasure
Finally, there are many ways to help give back this holiday season with financial support. Sit down as a family and consider cutting back a bit on what you might spend on each other and put the extra money into helping your community locally and globally. Here are some suggestions to give of your treasure:
- Donate to any charity of your choice.
- Reach out to a local charity or religious organization to sponsor a family this year for the holidays. Our family has done this the last several years through my sons’ elementary school. I cannot tell you the joy my boys have had going shopping with me to pick out clothes and toys for the family we sponsored.
- Buy items for the winter such as coats, gloves, and hats and donate to an organization such as Give a Kid Projects. Likewise, any homeless shelter would love more of these items too.
- Support socially-conscious stores for your holiday shopping. These businesses may give a portion of their profits to charity, use sustainable materials, or have ethical/fair trade global partnerships. A few examples are The Little Market, Ten Thousand Villages, and Conscious Step.
- Consider making a donation in a loved one’s name. Heifer International, Save the Children, and World Vision are great examples. In addition, they also have gift guides where you can help others around the world.
I think there is pressure to make this holiday season special because of the uncertainty in our world. I urge you, instead buying more presents, to consider helping your family be intentional at giving back and making a difference. Use your time, your talents, your treasures as thoughtful gifts. Put extra love and kindness into your community. Do this work of the heart and watch it pay off in the joy you feel.
While I recommended shopping with socially conscious companies, shopping local can be a great way to use your treasure to help your community. Check out Lansing Mom’s 2020 Holiday Gift Guide!