20 Ways to Give Back This Christmas


Every year at Christmas, our family looks for ways to practice generosity and selfless service. This year though, there have been so many causes on my heart that our budget simply can’t reach out to them all. We always donate to a local toy drive in our little town, as well as the Salvation Army Christmas Angel program. This year I’ve wanted to do so much more. I decided instead to share with all of you the wonderful ways I’ve discovered to reach out to those in need this year.

Perhaps you’ll be inspired by one of these great ideas and you can bring the joy of Christ to others in your community or around the world this Christmas. Because that is what this season is really about.

  1. Visit a homeless shelter or tent city and donate blankets, gloves, socks, hats, or coats. Each little item keeps someone warm and can help them survive those awfully cold nights.
  2. If you don’t have the money or items to donate, simply visit with the folks at the local homeless shelter or tent city. Sometimes just feeling like you matter as a person can really uplift someone.
  3. Sponsor an angel from the Salvation Army angel tree. This is a special tradition for our family every year, and we delight in picking out just the perfect gift requested on the card.
  4. If you’re unable to get out to a store to choose an individual angel from their trees around town, you can still donate to the Salvation Army online! A donation online is just like dropping money into those little red buckets. Our local Salvation Army is reportedly very short this year in their projected donations, so every little bit helps.
  5. As I mentioned in a post titled “A Fair Trade Christmas,” shopping Fair Trade for Christmas is a wonderful way to find unique and personal gifts for friends and loved ones and it helps support artisans in developing nations. Win win.
  6. One Warm Coat is a national organization dedicated to making sure everyone who needs a warm coat this year gets one. It breaks my heart thinking that someone out there who needs a coat doesn’t have one, and this really shouldn’t be happening in our country. If you follow the link I’ve provided, you can click on the map on the right and then find a coat drive in your area. I checked, and sure enough, there is one in our area!
  7. One of my favorite organizations this time of year is Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child. If you’re unfamiliar with this project, their website offers all the information you need to help. Briefly, Operation Christmas Child sends specially created care packages to children all over the world who need the most basic items as well as some personal gifts to really light up their world. Unfortunately, the national send-off week has passed, but you can still donate to the amazing cause at Samaritan’s Purse on their website. I want to make it a family tradition starting next year to pack a box together for a child who needs it.
  8. I participated at our previous church in Operation Give, which sends 10,000 stockings to soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. While -unfortunately- the deadline for stockings and stocking stuffers has passed, they are still in a great need for monetary donations right now to pay for shipping charges to actually get these stockings to the troops. You can donate at the link provided. {Since some of the suggestions I’m giving have already passed, I promise to revise this post again next year much earlier!}
  9. Another opportunity to support to our troops is through our USO program. The USO serves our troops year round, not just at Christmastime. They are always in need of support. You can donate at the link provided. Any online donations to such causes could be a thoughtful gift given in the name of others, such as neighbors or coworkers. It could be included in a card that a donation was made in their name to one of these wonderful programs.
  10. If you’re a pet lover, often local animal shelters hold food or toy drives for the animals housed there during Christmastime. These shelters tend to see an influx of new animals when the weather turns cold, because people are more inclined to drop off a stray for fear of them not surviving the cold. Shelters rely on such food donations well into the new year to care for the animals that wander their way. It would be a wonderful way to teach children to care for God’s creatures by buying cat food or dog food and dropping it off at your local animal shelter this Christmas.
  11. If you have a particular talent that you could share with others, now would be a great time to volunteer at a local children’s hospital or nursing home. If you play the piano, you could bring Christmas carols to the elderly or bedridden. If you have a knack for sewing, you could make a lap quilt for a child in the hospital.
  12. You could also participate in Project Linus, which provides handmade blankets to children who are terminally ill or have been traumatized, or who could otherwise just use a warm blanket around them. You can participate by donating a handmade blanket to a nearby Project Linus chapter, or by donating online to help pay for shipping and material costs.
  13. Ask around in your community, work, or church to see if there is a family with a particular need that you might fulfill. Perhaps there’s an elderly woman who just needs help keeping her driveway shoveled this year. Perhaps it’s a family who otherwise won’t have groceries this month. Whether it’s things or service, there is bound to be someone near you who could use some help, and there is bound to be some way you can help them.
  14. Shop local. Look for locally owned mom and pop stores to shop from rather than purchasing all of your gifts from large chain companies this year. Shopping at local stores puts money back in your own community and supports families just like yours who are trying to make it this holiday season. You could buy gifts from the local bookstore down the street or shop for your Christmas dinner groceries at the family-owned grocery store in town rather than the large surplus store.
  15. Donate time, money, or food to the local food bank. Food banks always run low this time of year, and their staff is always stretched thin. Consider making it a family tradition to volunteer one Saturday before Christmas at your local food bank. You can hand out, sort, organize or prepare food for families.
  16. Volunteer at your local soup kitchen. The cold weather sends people inside more than other times of year, and it seems harder this time of year for people in need to find a warm meal. Of course our current national economic state doesn’t help either. Volunteering at a local soup kitchen can be a great bonding experience for your family, and can give you a chance to make friends with those less fortunate in our community.
  17. Bake cookies or other yummy goodies for your local firemen, police officers, EMT service providers, or teachers. Public service men and women don’t make a lot of money, but they do a ton of hard work in our communities. It would be a blessing to let them know how appreciated they are by dropping by this year with some baked goods and a smile.
  18. Make up coupons for your next door neighbors that give them one free law mowing, leaf raking, or car washing when the weather clears up. You could slip it in with a plate of cookies. It fosters a sense of community, allows you to get to know your neighbors, and shows them that you are willing to serve them as friends.
  19. Practice random acts of kindness by buying the lunch for someone in line with you at the local fast food restaurant. I’ve done this before, and I love both the reaction of the person at the window when I tell them what I’m doing and the reaction of the person behind me when they realize their meal is free.
  20. Donate to the cause of your choice on behalf of someone else. If a loved one has suffered from Breast Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, or any other ailment, you can make a loving donation in the name of a friend or family member that supports a cause close to your heart. Many people appreciate these kind of gifts instead of little trinkets that will break or be lost quickly after the season.

It doesn’t take much to bless the lives of others. And what a wonderful time of year to make someone’s day magical. If you can think of anything I might have left off, please feel free to share! I’d love even more creative and thoughtful ways to give back this year.





Filed under Creative Ideas and Crafts, Holiday Tips, Simplify Your Life

10 responses to “20 Ways to Give Back This Christmas

  1. Bleuberry

    Wow – thanks for sharing so many great ideas! We’ve decided to pursue more giving to those in need this year; both as a couple and as an extended family… it’s been great so far and I would highly recommend it to others. So many of us in North America are ridiculously wealthy in comparison with the reast of the world – what do I *need* at Christmas? Nothing! Nothing other than the opportunity to spend time with family and friends… and you can’t buy that! So thanks for pointing us away from greed and towards grace and generority this Christmas season, Kat! 🙂

    • Absolutely, I think the Christmas season is all about giving back and showing generosity and compassion to those in need. That’s not to say we shouldn’t enjoy the things that make the season special {because we love those things too} but looking back on the times that have warmed my heart the most have been the times I was helping others. 🙂

  2. Kerri

    Great ideas! I recently heard about Luke’s Wings which fly families of injured soldiers to visit them or visa versa over the holidays.


  3. Excellent post, Kat. My December always flies by in a blaze of 6 nights on/ 1 night off….but you’ve got me feeling festive now.

  4. Pingback: Tis’ The Season To Be Jolly | Watch. Listen. Learn

  5. What a wonderful collection of ideas. It’s so refreshing to see a list of ways to give back. I’ll be pinning this.

  6. What a wonderful list! It’s so refreshing to see a list of ways to give back this Christmas. I hope to pass along the spirit of giving to my son. I’ll be pinning this!

  7. Pingback: Holiday Checklist - The Good Mama

  8. Wonderful ideas! I love doing service projects. (Especially for the animals)

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