Ideas for giving back at Christmas

Ideas for Giving Back at Christmas

Everyone knows that it’s better to give than to receive. And at the holidays, this rings especially true—and especially difficult when money and free time are at an all-time low for most families. So what do you do to keep “good will toward men” at the forefront of your family’s collective mind? We asked our Facebook followers and some contributors what they do to get into the spirit of giving at Christmas. And we got back some pretty cool ideas to try.

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We love buying LOTS of mittens for mitten trees. We decorate a Christmas tree with the donated mittens, gloves, hats and scarves. Then all the items are given to a charity to distribute to help keep our community warm all winter.
—Gail J.

We adopt a family off the tree in our mall, look at their wish list, and make some magic happen.
—Donna S.

My daughters love getting together with cousins to pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Every year, we find some old shoeboxes and fill them with new toys, treats, school supplies and necessities for kids in other parts of the world who probably won’t receive any other Christmas gift. It’s always a contest to see how much we can squeeze into each box. Then we drop the boxes off with a group called Samaritan’s Purse that distributes the boxes worldwide at Christmastime.
—Keely C.

There’s a Giving Tree at church. We pick a tag and buy the gifts that the recipient would like to receive—clothing, toys, books, etc. It’s fun to shop and wrap the gifts for a person you don’t know.
—Karen L.

My son loves picking out the perfect gift for people. I am a teacher, and I always find a couple of our students to be a mystery angel/Santa for, and my son and I go out and do the shopping together.
—Melissa K.

I love to deliver meals to people at Christmastime with my grandkids. They love helping me figure out the routes to take, carrying the good-smelling meals to the door and chatting with the people we deliver them to. It opens up a whole new world for them—that it’s easy and fun to be a help to people.
—Ann F.

I have been involved in Toys for Tots for years, and once my kids became old enough, they were there helping in any way they could.
—Cindy D.

We do Secret Santa for the less fortunate families in my community.
—Todd A.

One of our favorite places to volunteer as a family is at our Rescue Mission—a center for homeless men. We like helping distribute used clothing. The men who come there for help are very respectful, grateful and pleasant—just like any other people you know. They thank us for our service. I always leave feeling blessed that we had the opportunity to help real people directly.
—Barbara F.

We ring the bell for the Salvation Army.
—Cindy M.

I take my kids to a shelter in our area, and we serve food to all the people who attend the church service.
—Donna K.

My work group adopts a family every year during the holidays. It’s heartwarming to see colleagues swarming the family’s wish list, making sure everything gets covered…and then some. Reminds me that I’m blessed to work with great people. And the thank-you letters we receive are the biggest blessing of all.
—Keely C.

I have no children, but I shop for some that are on our Christmas Giving Tree each year. I hope that the children who receive my gifts remember that someone remembered them and then continue the tradition when they’re adults.
—Hall C.

I participate in several “adopt-a-family” efforts through work and church. I’m given information about each family member (clothing sizes, personal interests, specific requests) and add them to my shopping list. I enjoy knowing not only that I helped but that I might have made someone’s Christmas brighter with something that feels like it was just for him or her—because it was.
—Kevin D.