17 Ways You Can Give Back/Do Good This Holiday Season
They won’t change the world, but can make life a little brighter for someone.
I love the holiday season: buying presents, decorating my house, writing themed articles (!), and most importantly spending time with my family and friends.
But sometimes I go a little bit overboard with my celebrations and forget to think of others, like every bratty kid in holiday television movies. In fact, here’s a pretty accurate representation of me during December:
That’s why I’ve decided to start my New Year resolution early and begin thinking of others (especially those less fortunate) during the holidays.
I’ve come up with a list of things that I will endeavour to do over the holiday season in order to give back (you can follow my progress on my Instagram). If you’d like to spread the love and do some good too, then pick a few of these to try this month and into the New Year.
Over the holidays, the work of many charities increases exponentially and donations fall. How can we combat this?
1. Ask for donations in lieu of gifts:
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t really need anything for Christmas (and you’d really like to avoid getting a new pack of socks with cats
on them), why not spread the word that you’d like people to donate to a favourite charity?
— Emma Murphy (@mainstreamqueen) December 4, 2017
2. Give charity donations:
There’ll no doubt be people on your To Buy For list who have everything they could possibly want, a charity that they particularly love, or both. Donate to
their favorite charity.
Consider giving up an afternoon during December for your favourite charitable cause. Whether its serving meals in a soup kitchen, grooming animals at a shelter, or doing some office admin for your local domestic violence charity, you’ll be helping to ease the load.
4. Buying small trinket items (lip balm, socks, sweets) for the residents of your local homeless shelter/women’s refuge:
This shows them that someone cares about them and can help boost self-esteem. Pro tip: Check with the people in charge to see what they recommended buying as many have restrictions on items like nail polish or mouthwash, as they can affect those struggling with substance abuse.
5. Alternatively, buy practical items:
Stuff like menstrual products, toothbrushes, and deodorant, may not make great presents from your partner or BFF but these are all things that are expensive when money is tight, vital to your health and wellbeing, and rarely donated. Pro Tip: As this will likely be a bulk order, see if you can go directly to a local manufacturer for a discount. If you explain what you’re doing, they might even be encouraged to help out for free because it’ll make for some good publicity.
6. Giving blood:
Unfortunately, blood stocks often run low over the holidays and there’s often a surge in demand. I gave blood at the end of November but neglected to get a picture of it so here’s a picture of my friend Kayla when we gave blood earlier this year.
Dreaming of a Green Christmas
The holiday season has a lot of sustainability problems from gift paper that can’t be easily recycled because it contains plastic (why?!) to extra cars on the roads for shopping to decorations that are made to be put up in December and binned in January.
7. Create your own cards using scrap materials (like old cards and wrapping paper) and a stamp set:
If you have kids/younger siblings/babysitting charges you can make it into a fun art activity for them!
8. Cut down on wrapping paper that’s hard to recycle:
Wrap presents in plain brown paper or newspaper for easy recycling by the recipient (if you think that’s boring, decorate them with string, festive stamps, or even drawings from your kids) or reuse wrapping paper from last year or presents that you open early.
9. Turn off the fairy lights:
While these little lights can really add to the festive look, they can use tons of electricity, so restrict how long they are on for if you want to have them up.
10. Reuse decorations:
Buy decorations made to last so that you can use them over and over again, which will save you money and save the planet.
11. Cut down on your car usage:
Use public transport as much as possible or make one big trip in the car for all your holiday shopping to save on excess pollution (and the amount of time you spend in traffic).
12. Hand make presents:
This will save you money, cut down on excess packaging, and is especially eco-friendly if you can make them from discarded materials, as I did with old candles and a few essential oils, as it reduces the amount of virgin materials that are used for presents.
Take care of those close to you
As this is a very stressful time of year, it is also important to make those around you feel special and loved. Charity begins at home after all.
13. Help an elderly neighbour or relative to shop:
Sometimes older people can find it difficult to get out and shop for gifts/food etc at such a busy time, so maybe ask if they need a lift to the supermarket or help to navigate online stores.
14. Reach out to people who are on their own:
If you know of a family member, friend, or colleague who’ll be on their own during the holidays, invite them to have lunch with your family.
15. Take care of pets:
The holidays can be a stressful time for animals; fireworks, parties, strange visitors can all make your pets nervous. Consider buying a plug-in to calm your animals and continue making time for walks and playtime.
16. Offer to help:
Ask your parents (or whoever you're visiting during the holidays) if you can bring any food/drink/chairs/decorations and offer to clear up after dinner if you haven’t cooked.
17. Talk it out:
Talk to your partner/roommate/ best friend if you're feeling the strain over the holidays so that you can work through things without taking it out on those close to you.
So, there’s my list for ways to do good during the holiday season but I’m interested to hear about yours. Let me know in the comments below.