The holidays are crazy, I get it. But let’s slow down for a minute a remember why we’re all dashing about making our flocked trees Insta-perfect and our 1st world lattes all junipered up. As important as it is to find that perfect gift, let’s make an effort to show ourchildren the true reason for the season by helping those in need that they don’t know. I’m pretty sure you’ll both enjoy the break from crammed parking lots and long-travel lines and will enjoy creating these giving traditions so much more. These are the moments they will remember when they grow older.
Here are 15 ways that your family can “give back” during this holiday season:
- My girl loves the idea of giving to children who may not get a Christmas, locally and those in other countries, and she loves learning about those far away lands at the same time. Ways you can give globally are through one of the following noteworthy programs: Samaritan’s Purse, Angel Tree, Compassion International, Save the Children, or World Vision. We love to adopt an Angel and shop for their holiday gifts, and while we do, we always have change ready for the red buckets at the Salvation Army. Don’t miss that giving conversation because you’re in a rush! Kids love to drop in your change and ring the bell.
- Speaking of giving locally, there are so many great DFW support programs, but one of my favorites is Love Pacs which provides meals for school lunch program families during school breaks. Our Girl Scout troop took donations to fill boxes one year and the girls loved shopping for to fill them up. Other great organizations are: Boys and Girls Club of Dallas, Give Big Dallas, North Texas Food Bank, or the Salvation Army DFW.
- Pack stockings for homeless people. Buy some stockings at the Dollar Store and fill them with granola bars, a water bottle, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a candy cane, a gift card to a grocery store or fast food restaurant, warm gloves or socks, etc. Keep the stockings in your car, and hand them out to homeless people you encounter on your daily commutes.
- Help your children pick out affordable toys to donate to Toys for Tots. You can donate at a collection site or even host your own event.
- Collecting cans of food and donating them to a local church or food bank is great. Feeding America provides a nationwide network of food banks. Level up by purchasing a fashionable bag or tote for you or as a gift from feedproject.org. If you don’t know about this amazing non-profit, they’ve mashed up runway-worthy accessories with providing school meals to the hungry. You can be so on-trend AND feed the hungry at the same time!
- Bake cookies, pies or casseroles and take them to your local fire or police department. Call ahead to make sure they can accept homemade foods (some may not for fear of contamination). You could also call a restaurant and have food delivered to the station, or put together a gift basket of prepackaged food and/or gift cards to local restaurants.
- Make and donate blankets to Project Linus. The blankets are then donated to seriously ill children in hospitals, social-service agencies, and shelters. Check out Project Linus’ patterns page for inspiration.
- Bring some holiday cheer to your local nursing home. Call ahead and ask if there are days and times that work best for you to volunteer with your kids. You could help serve a meal, bring flowers to the residents, sing some Christmas carols, or just sit and keep some of the residents company.
- Collect baby items and donate them to a local pregnancy center or Bryan’s House in Dallas. Take a look at this newborn essentials checklist for some ideas. Another organization is The Hope Supply Company which supplies much-needed essentials to homeless children in DFW.
- The Cupcake and I like to anonymously pay off someone’s layaway at Walmart. She LOVES to do this and the idea that we helped a family in such a surprising way really resonates with her. Other ways you can pay it forward: Pay for the meal of another family at a restaurant, leave a larger-than-normal tip for the waitress, pay for the next patron in the drive-thru line.
- Donate a care package to a service member or first responder through Operation Gratitude, support families of fallen service members through Snowball Express, or give to disabled veterans through Homeless Veteran’s Services of Dallas.
- If your children are old enough, volunteer at a local soup kitchen. SoupMobile has a HUGE event at the Omni Dallas on December 24th and 25th where they need thousands of volunteers. We also love to volunteer with Feed My Starving Children. Grab several families and make a party out of it. I promise you, this high-energy event is one that will leave a mark on your soul!
- Spread some holiday cheer in your neighborhood. Jingle your neighbors, maybe a new widow, with a surprise package on their doorstep and encourage them to do the same. Here’s a cute printout you can use. It’s so easy to do, just find some fun treats from the grocery store or use it as an excuse to visit HomeGoods.
- Volunteer with Mission Arlington or Operation Turkey in Dallas to deliver turkeys, turkey baskets and hot meals to people in need.
- Do a 12 Days of Christmas Secret Santa for someone struggling with an illness or loss, a military family whose spouse is deployed, a single mom, etc. If your kids are outgrowing Santa, this is a great idea to incorporate a secret Santa for the first year.