From giving the gift of time to shopping for presents that benefit communities around the world, here are five ways to give back this holiday season.
When everywhere you turn you're met with a new ad reminding you to start your holiday shopping, and your kids keep telling you they want that toy—and that one, and that one—it's easy to get caught up in the consumerism of the holiday season.
From Christmas to Hanukkah to Kwanza, the giving and receiving of gifts has long been a hallmark of the December holidays. This year, however, instead of trying to fill up the space under the tree or hunting for show-stopping gifts, consider focusing your time and money on ways to make the world a better place.
Here are five simple ways to give back this holiday season:
1. Give the gift of time
When grandparents or other relatives ask what your kids want for the holidays, suggest that they give a gift of their time instead of shopping for material items. The happy memories made skating and drinking hot cocoa or getting lost in the wondrous halls of a museum will stick around far longer than another stuffed animal.
2. Donate in honour of someone
For those who seem to have everything, consider making a charitable donation in their name. Organizations such as WE Charity offer a myriad of affordable options, from school kits to livestock to clean water systems, which help to reduce poverty rates and improve standards of living in countries around the world. Donating in their honour will be a gesture they won't soon forget.
3. Volunteer in your community
Start a new tradition of giving back with your family around the holidays. Ask guests at your annual party to bring a new toy or non-perishable food item in lieu of a hostess gift and donate the items to a local charity or foodbank. If you have older children, spend an afternoon serving a holiday meal together at a soup kitchen; volunteering as a family is a great way to get into the holiday spirit, strengthen bonds and bring you closer together. You can also give back and declutter your house at the same time by gathering winter garments your family has outgrown and taking them to a local shelter.
4. Give a socially conscious gift
Shop for ethical gifts that promote what the season should really be about. ME to WE products, for example, are handmade by women in Kenya and Ecuador who earn a fair wage for their crafts. Each item, from jewellery to chocolate, empowers the woman who made it with the tools and training to build a better future for herself, her family and her community. The majority of ME to WE's products carry a Track Your Impact code so that you can see exactly how your gift helped to change a life. With everything from stocking stuffers to Artisan necklaces, they have a world-changing product for everyone on your list.
5. Perform small acts of kindness
Offer to shovel a neighbour's driveway or help carry someone's groceries to their car. If you have a friend or family member who has been struggling financially, you could anonymously pay one of their bills. In every holiday card you send out, add a personal note about how the recipient has made your life happier over the last year. These actions require only a few moments of your time but can brighten someone's whole day. Spreading kindness not only sets a great example for kids—it also increases your mental well-being—a great way to beat the winter blues.
For more ideas on how to give back, check out WE Stories.