There are so many wonderful things about the Holiday Season and giving is one of those wonderful things!
Typically, when we think about the season of giving we think about giving presents to friends and family or giving canned goods to the local food bank. These are wonderful ways to give to others, but there are many other ways we can give during the Holidays (and all year long).
Here are some of what I believe are the best ways to give to others!
Give a Compliment
Talk about an easy, but powerful, way to give during the Holidays! Compliments are definitely something all of us can give, no matter what our financial situation is!
Compliments can be as easy as saying “please” or “thank you” or simply showing respect for someone else. It can be telling someone how you feel about them or what you like about them. You could text or send a Christmas card. You can tip a little extra for good or great service at a restaurant. You can bring a coworker their favorite (non-alcoholic) drink for doing something to help you out at work or doing a good job at work. Small and simple is often what is best.
The picture below is one of the best compliments I have ever gotten from one of my kids. It wasn’t even words. It was actions. It was simple and silly. He was goofy with me out in public for a picture…a picture that others may see. Talk about making me feel like I did something right as a parent. No better compliment than that in my book!
Give Your Children the Gift of Traditions
I am all about family traditions! We have all kinds of traditions at our house. I have birthday traditions (scavenger hunt for presents), travel traditions (pre-trip parties and matching shirts), and so many more!
We especially have traditions around the Holidays! We watch Christmas movies while putting up the Christmas tree and we have certain times when we celebrate with the in-laws or with our adult kids. However, my children’s’ favorite Christmas tradition is me baking cookies! And when I say baking cookies, I mean baking cookies! We bake several different kinds of cookies and other treats and dozens upon dozens of each kind.
My teens look forward to me baking, especially since the two still living at home happily sample each batch as they come out of the oven. My preschool and toddler-age grandchildren love to “help” with the baking process. Of couse…no one may actually eat what they “help” with if they saw what the “help” looked like! (You know…take a sample of batter and then put back what they don’t finish….oh well!)
Here are cinnamon ornaments that we make a Christmas time! It’s not quite baking, but it’s playing with and cutting out the dough! I love making ornaments with the kids! They are adorable and smell fantastic! Plus, the toddlers can eat them if they choose. They may not taste great to me or you, but they aren’t harmful to consume! I am very much looking forward to making these again in the near future!
Give Your Time to Your Family
Just as important as family traditions, if not more important, is simply spending time with family and friends. This is important all of the time, not just during the Holidays. However, the holidays tend to make family time both easier and more difficult!
Let me explain. For many of us, it’s often easier to have time to spend with extended family and friends than the ones we we live with during the Holiday Season. We often have set times to visit with ones we don’t live with, such as when we have Holiday parties with friends or Christmas events with aunts, uncles, and cousins. However, it’s often more difficult for us to spend time with the family we live with because we are busy preparing for all of our Holiday parties and other plans.
This doesn’t mean that time with our immediate family is impossible. However, it does suggest it may be a little more challenging than other times of the year.
To combat this, we need to be sure to make time for the ones we live with and the ones closest to us. Spend a day or afternoon shopping for presents together for grandparents or baking cookies. Make cards for people in nursing homes or play holiday-themed games. You can even do a movie marathon for your favorite Christmas series. We usually do The Santa Clause series while decorating for Christmas. This year, I’ve already done movie marathons with the two Christmas Chronicles movies and the two Princess Switch movies on Netflix!
There are endless ways to spend time together as a family and they are so worth the thought and effort!
Give Your Extras a New Home
When my children were little, we would do a toy purge before Christmas. We would talk about how other children were not as lucky as they were and that we need to share toys and clothes we no longer need with others who are in need.
It was a great educational moment about gratitude, being thankful for what we had, and helping others. The added benefits of this were a little less clutter and more room for the Christmas presents they would be getting in the near future.
Other ways we would do activities to help others were buying items for a family at Christmas time or purchasing food for a local food pantry before we went on vacation. I loved purchasing food to donate prior to our vacations because we talked about how, if we have money enough for vacation then we have money to help others. We would even make this part of our pre-trip parties at times!
Things Besides Toys
While you are cleaning out those toy bins, what about cleaning out the closet and pantry too?!?! You know those 15 packages of noodles you found on sale and have only eaten three of, maybe it’s time to make some room in the pantry and donate those extra items to a local shelter or food bank.
Maybe it’s time to check out the closet too? Do you really need five black sweaters? When was the last time you wore that one pair of dress pants? Now’s the perfect time to declutter at home and help others out at the same time!
Giving to others is also a great way to spend time together as a family. You can even make great family traditions out of giving! Spend an afternoon cleaning and then gather all you have cleaned out to take to a shelter to donate. This is a great way to teach gratitude for what you have and the importance of giving to others.
I and some of my children give in other ways as well. Some people might consider it a bit odd, but we will donate our hair to make wigs for children with cancer when we cut it after having grown it out. Myself, our two daughters, and our youngest son have all donated hair at times through the years. My youngest son is about to donate for a second time. This is something that doesn’t cost any money but is still helping others. This is just one of many ways to give to others that does not actually cost any money.
Give Yourself a Break
Often, the hardest thing to give is what we need to give to ourselves. We need to allow ourselves to have peace, love, and forgiveness. We need to be able to give ourselves a break now and then.
We don’t always have the time or money to go to a beach to relax, but ther are other times and ways we can relax and do a little self-care!
The Holiday Season is one of the best times of the year to make sure we are giving ourselves some self-care especially since we are often very busy doing things for others. We are shopping and wrapping and baking and visiting and all of these things are wonderful, but they can be draining. We need to be able to set limits and make sure our own needs are being met, even if those needs are as simple as some rest and quiet time.
One way to help ourselves focus on taking care of our own needs is to get involved with others who have the same goals. Check out this five-day self-care challenge. This would be a perfect time to do this activity with a friend or loved one! You are taking care of yourself while having a buddy to help keep you on track and be accountable to!
Pretty much everything we have talked about can be encompassed with the term gratitude. Gratitude being thankful for what you have and who you are.
Gratitude can be giving to others because you are thankful for what you have. It’s as simple as donating your extras and unused items to local charities. It can be purchasing items for families in need at Christmastime or buying extra food when you are doing your Holiday shopping to donate to a local food bank because you have enough for yourself and your family. It’s telling others your thankful for them and why you are thankful for them being in your life. It’s also taking care of yourself so you can take care of others.
Gratitude is everything the Holiday Season is actually about. It’s about giving. It’s about love. It’s about doing things for people in need, whether those in need are in your family or circle of friends or if they are total strangers. Gratitude is about peace. Peace in your life and your family, as well as praying for peace in the world.
Have a fantastic Holiday Season and amazing 2021! Keep gratitude in your heart and in your actions all year long.