7 creative ways to give back this holiday season

One of the best things about the holiday season is how it inspires giving. No matter where we go for our shopping needs, there is the opportunity to leave some extra jingle with the Salvation Army bell ringers or adopt a child in need from the Angel Tree.

Since traditions go hand-in-hand with this time of year, I’ve come up with 7 ways to incorporate creative giving at home, at work and with friends:

1. A New Way to Yankee: Holiday swaps, although fun and popular, aren’t easy for everyone. Buying an inexpensive gift means different things to different people, so instead of having employees spending money, hand them a piece of paper and have them write a good deed that can be done in the community. Draw and trade just like the typical Yankee swap.

2. Pot Luck To Go: Call a local shelter or community center to see what day of the week they are short on volunteers to cook or serve a meal. Even if your staff doesn’t have the time to serve the meal, each person can contribute an item or dish for the cause.

3. Leave Toys for Santa: We know St. Nick loves cookies, but what if he’s short on gifts this year? Perhaps the flu bug made it’s way around the workshop and the big guy didn’t meet his toy quota. On Christmas Eve, have your child donate a few toys to Santa’s sack. You could also send a toy per night back to the North Pole with your Elf for X amount of days leading up to Christmas. This is a win-win. Not only does it instill the value of giving, but it clears some space in their room.

4. Reindeer Box: Twas the year for subscription box goodies. You’ve heard of Birch Box, Bark Box, Dollar Shave Club … well, how about Rudolph’s Box. Grab an old shoe box, add some antlers to the back and a red pom-pom on the front with some googly eyes and voila. These boxes would be great to deliver to local hospitals, filled with goodies for children who aren’t able to spend the holiday season in their own home. (Bonus if you can find a group of friends to make this a monthly activity.)

5. Reading and Ribbons: Grab a favorite book from your shelf (no, not one that you started and couldn’t finish) and wrap it up nicely. Coordinate with a local organization that specializes in literacy. This is fun for kids, too!

6. Cookies for Uniforms: Santa isn’t the only one who fancies a treat. If cookie swaps are your tradition, ask your friends to bake extra this year. Plate up some goodies for the local police station, fire department, etc. Since the new year is approaching, perhaps you could make it a fruit-and-cookie basket (we want to encourage upcoming resolutions).

7. Songs for Seniors: At one time it was common for children to visit nursing homes and perform. Unfortunately, not so much today. If your child is apart of an after school group or if you run a program for children or even if your kids and their friends express interest, consider an evening of caroling at the local senior center. If singing isn’t their thing, bring board games or homemade cards.

Good deeds needn’t cost money so don’t let the expense of the season hold you back from building service-oriented traditions you’re family and friends will forever cherish. I would love to hear your favorite ways to give back during the holidays! Connect and share with me on Facebook and Twitter


Erinne Magee

About Erinne Magee

Erinne is a Maine-based writer and freelance editor specializing in first person essays, poetry and picture books. Her work has appeared in publications like: The Washington Post, Redbook, Yahoo News, The Huffington Post, Good Housekeeping and The Toronto Sun. For more, visit: www.erinnemagee.com