Most of us are beginning to feel the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. We haven’t even gobbled up the last of our Thanksgiving leftovers, and now it’s a mad dash to Christmas. Between now and then, there are a lot of opportunities to lose sight of the things that matter most. Whatever the holidays mean to you and your family, here are a few ideas to help you shift the focus from what you get to what you can give to others this holiday season.
- Join the nationwide Giving Tuesday movement. After shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, pick out your favorite local charity and give back on November 28th.
- Pick up an Angel or two from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. Let your kids help do the shopping for a child in need this year. Use this as an opportunity to talk about the difference between having more than you need and not having enough.
- Gather some other families and together host a toy/gift drive for the Salvation Army’s “Forgotten Angels” — angels who do not get adopted or whose gifts do not get returned.
- Bake some cookies for an elderly neighbor. If you don’t have one, check with your church to see if there’s a “shut-in” who would welcome a visit.
- Get a group of kids together to carol at a nursing home. Holiday visits can lift the spirits of the residents and will do wonders for the kids too!
- Try picking up a few extra groceries next time you’re shopping. Drop them by the local food bank and see if you can take a tour to learn more about the need throughout the year.
- Clean out gently used clothes and toys to pave the way for Christmas gifts that will be arriving soon. Talk with your kids about sharing with those who are less fortunate this holiday season.
- Try a Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar. Each day in December, you can pick a different activity to share some kindness in your community.
- Send a holiday card to a soldier stationed overseas. Check with the local Blue Star Mother’s organization for a list of names.
- Designate your favorite charity through AmazonSmile. While it costs you nothing, your charity of choice receives a 0.5 percent donation for qualifying purchases.
- Volunteer as a family. You can ring bells for the Salvation Army, serve food at Agape or even collect donations and pass out candy canes at the Fantasyland of Lights.
- Let your kids help pick out or make a token of appreciation for school teachers, Sunday School leaders, coaches and other important mentors. While a gift card or a homemade treat will always be appreciated, don’t underestimate the value of a handmade holiday card.
- Don’t forget about the littlest creatures, especially as the winter weather hits. Let kids make a bird feeder or scatter birdseed outside. Make sure that pets have plenty of fresh food and water, in addition to a warm spot to snuggle on cold nights. You can always check with the local SPCA and ARF about local animal shelter needs.
- Remember a family who might have lost a loved one this year. Holidays can be lonely, and a note or a visit can help remind these special friends that they and their lost loved ones are not forgotten.
Before another holiday season comes and goes for your family, take a page out of the Grinch’s book and remember, “Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more.”