Ideas for giving back

Easy Ideas for Giving Back This Holiday

Updated November 2, 2020 . AmFam Team

From generously tipping to making donations, here are some simple ways you and your family can be charitable and safely spread cheer during the holidays.

When we think of holiday giving, it usually involves shopping online or finding that perfect item for a loved one. But charitable giving during the holidays is also about giving back to your community, especially during uncertain times like these. Here are some charitable giving ideas for the holidays that you and your family can take on to bring cheer to those who need it most.

Tips on Giving Back During the Holidays

During the pandemic, you’ve likely seen a shift in focus toward the well-being and safety of your immediate family and inner circle of friends. But how can you give back to your community and stay safe? It used to be that volunteering at a soup kitchen or visiting a nursing home were great ways to spread cheer over the holidays, but that’s all changed now. Consider a few of these socially-distanced ways of giving back safely during the upcoming holiday season:

Be extra generous with gratuities

Whether ordering for delivery from your favorite restaurant or trying takeout from a new restaurant, giving a few extra dollars in the tip can really brighten the day of your delivery driver. Keep a stash of holiday cards, envelopes and small-increment gift cards at the ready for the driver when they bring you your meal to make it even more meaningful.

Give to your favorite charity

It really is better to give than to receive and that’s never been more true than with holiday charitable giving. Consider donating to non-profit organizations like Meals on Wheels (Opens in a new tab) and Toys for Tots (Opens in a new tab) to help spread the holiday cheer to those who may not be as fortunate. Charitable organizations might restrict certain types of donations this year, so be sure to check your favorite charity’s website.

Choose gifts that give a little extra

Consider giving your loved ones items that have a “buy one, give one (Opens in a new tab)” offer. One famous example is TOM’s shoes. For every pair of TOM’s you buy, the company donates a pair to children in need. If you’re holiday shopping anyway, why not give gifts with a philanthropic component?

Consider charitable donation gifts for the holidays

Instead of searching high and low to find an appropriate gift for your impossible-to-shop-for relative, why not do something nice on their behalf? If you know of a charity they support, go for it. Otherwise, you can let them choose by getting them a gift card to an organization like Charity On Top (Opens in a new tab) or Heifer International (Opens in a new tab). Plus, it may entitle you to a charitable contribution deduction on your taxes.

How to Spread Holiday Cheer as a Family

There are a lot of charitable activities you can do together as a family! Remember, safety first this year, so chose things you can do virtually rather than in-person.

Video call friends or family who may be feeling lonely or isolated

Chances are you may know someone who would really appreciate a call during these uncertain times. Schedule a video call with them and ask that your kids participate. Even a quick chat can really make a difference.

Virtually volunteer at your local food bank

Food banks always welcome volunteers, and many offer virtual opportunities to help. Feeding America (Opens in a new tab) recommends making donor thank-you calls or writing thank-you notes. Your kids can help decorate the cards with drawings of festive foods.

Contact your local animal shelter

Ask what kind of help is needed. They might be low on pet supplies, and picking out a chew toy online can be a fun activity everyone can participate in.

Donate food to local hospitals or firehouses

Those who are essential workers or have to work during the holidays will appreciate your effort. While you may not be able to donate homemade food this year, check your local hospital’s website to see what is accepted. Your whole family can pick out appropriate food online and send it over.

Projects the Kids Can Tackle

Your kids may be eager to help out and do something all on their own. There’s plenty of ways they can spread cheer, but make sure they know to keep the safety of others in mind when doing so.

Shovel snow or take out the garbage for an elderly neighbor

Acts of kindness when the cold weather sets in will be much appreciated for those who have limited mobility. When helping your elderly neighbor during the pandemic, don’t enter their home. Remember social distancing and opt to communicate with them via phone or through a closed window to help ensure their safety.

Participate in local charitable holiday initiatives

Check out what causes your local representatives, school districts, or churches are involved with and see what kind of help they need. Remember, ask about opportunities for virtual volunteering if possible.

Write letters to military members

There are many organizations dedicated to creating meaningful engagements with our troops. Consider the programs offered by Operation Gratitude (Opens in a new tab) or Soldier's Angels (Opens in a new tab) to support the military, veterans and their families. Also look for drives in your area that collect handwritten holiday cards to send to our troops.

Random Acts of Kindness

Giving back isn’t necessarily about donating money and time. Sometimes it’s about spreading joy, one simple smile at a time. Here are some ways to do just that this holiday season:

  • Send someone you know pictures of a cute animal or funny memes
  • Hang candy canes on neighbors' mailboxes
  • Help out with household chores
  • Call or message someone from your past (such as a former teacher) to say thank you
  • Offer to order takeout or delivery for an isolated neighbor or family member

Giving back during the holidays is one of the best ways to show gratitude and pay it forward. Try incorporating some of these ideas into your busy holiday schedule, and little by little, you’ll make your community a little merrier.

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