The holidays are a joyful time. The air is crisp, the coats are cozy, and the food is on point. But the very best thing about the holiday season isn’t all the presents; instead, it’s the opportunity to spend some time giving back. It’s the perfect time of year to count your blessings and show up for those in need. Here are some ways to give back that will cost you nothing but good cheer.
1) Send holiday cards to active-duty and veteran military members
The holidays are a great time to reach out to the brave people who put their lives on the line for this country. You can send cards through the American Red Cross’ Holidays for Heroes program or A Million Thanks, a nonprofit that supports the military community. To be fair, this one isn’t totally free—cards cost money, as does postage—but the small sum is easily doable for such a great cause.
2) Volunteer at places that are especially taxed during the holidays
This is a simple one, but so many organizations are in need of help, especially as the weather turns colder and people are in need of connection. Find a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or food bank to chip in at. These places are busy during the holidays, and an extra set of hands is often in need. It’s also a great time to donate warm clothes, so if you have some extra jackets in good condition, get them to people in need through organizations like One Warm Coat.
3) Visit a senior center with your dog
Do you have a friendly pooch who has sweet, sweet dog kisses to spare? Call a nearby senior center and see if they’d be interested in having you and your pup visit and spread the love.
4) Collect donations for a food bank
You can run your own food drive by calling your family, texting your friends, and posting on Facebook! Places like Ample Harvest can help you locate a food pantry near you—all you have to do is have people drop off food at your place and then you deliver them to the food bank. Make sure the food is healthy, tasty, and nonperishable—think of things you want to eat, and you’re probably on the right track. Feeding people is a lovely way to show you care, and everyone deserves good food.
5) Make your Amazon purchases work for charity
This one’s easy! You’re probably already buying presents on Amazon—why not help raise money for a good cause at the same time? Go to Smile.Amazon.com and select a non-profit. Then, whenever you make a purchase, a small percentage will go to your selected charity. Spend away!
6) Donate your skills to a friend in need
We all have a myriad of talents that might be of service to those around us. Are you a photographer who can take gorgeous pictures of a friend’s children for her holiday card? Are you a writer who can help with an out-of-work buddy’s resume so he can start the new year off with a new job? Think of creative ways to use your serious skills to give back to those you love!
7) Bake cookies or casseroles for our first responders and non-profit workers
Already stuffed yourself and your family? How about making some sweet treats or hearty dishes for your local firefighters, or the people who run important non-profits in your community? These people have given their lives to the service of others, and there’s no better thank you than homemade chocolate chip cookies.
8) Give life
Donating blood and plasma quite literally saves lives, and visiting the blood bank with your family during the holidays is a great way to do a good thing, bond with those you love, and eat delicious free cookies!
9) Check in on your neighbors
The holidays are a good time to reconnect with those who live near us—shovel a sidewalk, offer up babysitting, or volunteer to water plants for your traveling neighbors. Caring for those around us is a great way to give back and feel that holiday love.