With the chaos of the holiday season, from wrapping gifts to reuniting with loved ones, consider taking time to give back with your family this year. Beyond your own celebrations, volunteering during the holidays can make a real difference in someone else’s life.
And, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to giving back–whether you choose to do so through donating money or items, sharing some time, or just putting in that extra effort to spread joy in your neighborhood, there are countless ways to be a holiday hero.
Plus, it’s a great way to instill the values of empathy, community, and service in your children. Read on to discover some of the ways you and your family can make a positive impact this holiday season.
1. Volunteer at a local food bank
You and your family can embrace the spirit of giving this holiday season and make a meaningful impact by volunteering at a local food pantry. This opportunity not only allows you to teach your children about compassion and community service, but also instills gratitude in them for all that your family has. Staying close to home for this volunteer activity will also help connect your family with the heart of the community.
While you’re contributing to the well-being of others, spending a few hours at a local food bank together can also create lasting memories for you and your family. Help foster a sense of responsibility and empathy among your kids by actively involving them in the sorting, packing, and distributing of food to those in need.
2. Donate your family’s old toys
In the spirit of spreading joy and decluttering your home this holiday season, consider donating old toys instead of throwing them out. It is also a great opportunity for you to bond with your children and teach them the importance of giving and compassion.
Gather your kids and together go through their toys, explaining the concept of sharing with those who may not have as much. Create a sense of excitement and purpose as you explain that these old toys, which may have been forgotten in the corner, can bring immense joy to another child during the holidays.
Once you’ve gathered what you’ll donate, choose a local charity or shelter to donate the toys. Make it a family outing to drop them off, allowing your children to witness firsthand the impact of their generosity and the idea that small actions can make a big difference in someone else’s life. Children love being involved, so what better way to start getting them involved in their community than through an activity that’s memorable for the whole family.
3. Set up a recurring monthly donation
One way to empower your family to make a lasting impact this holiday season is by setting up a recurring monthly donation. As you work to cultivate the values of your household, initiating a consistent giving routine demonstrates an ongoing commitment to giving back.
Depending on the age of your kids, you can discuss the options with the whole family, involving them in the decision-making process to select a cause that resonates with everyone. Whether it’s supporting local charities, educational initiatives, or health organizations, your monthly contribution is a simple way to create a meaningful ripple effect in the community. Plus, establishing a monthly donation plan not only streamlines your charitable efforts but also ensures sustained support for those in need.
Setting up a recurring donation can help show your children that even small, consistent contributions have a significant and positive impact over time. Your family can cultivate a spirit of generosity that extends far beyond the holiday season.
4. Create care packages
Spread some warmth and joy this holiday season by creating care packages for those who might need some extra love. Gather your family members and involve them in assembling care packages filled with essential items and festive treats (tip: if you’ll be giving the packages to a specific organization, they may be able to provide you with a list of what’s most needed). Consider including handwritten notes or drawings from your children to add a personal touch.
Choose recipients such as local shelters, nursing homes, or families facing hardship, and make delivering the care packages a family affair. This experience allows your children to witness the direct impact of their kindness, fostering a sense of connection to the community.
Creating care packages is a tangible expression of love and consideration. It’s an opportunity to teach your children that giving extends beyond material goods—it encompasses thoughtfulness, compassion, and the power to make someone’s day a little brighter. In doing so, you spread joy and cultivate a family tradition that embodies the true spirit of the holiday season.
5. Run/walk for a cause
One fun way to elevate your family’s holiday season is by lacing up your running shoes and participating in a race for a cause together. See if there are any 5Ks coming up in your area benefiting a local charity and get signed up!
Depending on your children’s ages, they can either join in on the excitement of training for and running the race, or be personal cheerleaders on race day. You can also involve them in creating personalized fundraising pages and asking other friends and family for donations. Whether your kids participate in the race or cheer from the sidelines, the importance of physical activity will be instilled in them, alongside determination and the spirit of giving.
The experience of your family participating in a race is sure to create sweet memories and reinforce the idea that being active can be a force for positive change. The shared sense of accomplishment as you cross the finish line, coupled with the knowledge that your efforts are contributing to a greater good, transforms a simple race into a powerful family bonding activity.
6. Do a community cleanup
Coming together for a community cleanup is a great way to teach your kids about environmental stewardship and community pride. It’s also a great way to get outside during the holiday season (just make sure to bundle up if it’s cold where you are!)
All you need for a community cleanup is some gloves and trash bags. Then, gather your family and make a day of cleaning up a local park, beach, or neighborhood. Explain the importance of caring for our shared spaces and the positive impact a clean environment has on the community.
You can even make it a festive affair by organizing a themed cleanup day, complete with holiday decorations and treats. Engaging your children in the planning process can also spark enthusiasm and create a sense of ownership in the initiative. When you’ve finished cleaning up, you’ll be able to see your impact right away–which is extremely gratifying for both you and your children!
7. Write holiday cards
Illuminate the holiday season with the heartfelt tradition of writing holiday cards as a family. Not only can you make someone’s day with a thoughtful card, but your kids are sure to enjoy the process of creating some beautiful works of art.
Gather your family around a festive table adorned with colorful pens, stickers, and glitter to create a cozy card-writing station. Encourage your children to express their feelings of love and care, turning each card into a unique creation that reflects the warmth of the season.
Select recipients thoughtfully, including neighbors, friends, and community members who may be feeling isolated or going through challenging times. Discuss with your children the impact a simple holiday card can have on brightening someone’s day and fostering a sense of connection. If possible, make it a family affair to drop off the cards personally–a heartwarming outing that amplifies your family’s sense of community and togetherness during the holiday season.
8. Organize a food, gift, or clothing drive
If you’re ready to take the lead on an impactful project this season, consider organizing a food, gift, or clothing drive with your family. Start by identifying a local charity or organization looking for donations. See if you can get a wish list of items needed, whether it’s non-perishable food items, holidays gifts for underprivileged children, or warm clothing for those in need.
Next, transform your home into a collection hub, creating designated spaces for each category of donation. Encourage your kids to spread the word in your community, inviting neighbors and friends to contribute to the drive or creating flyers.
The act of organizing a drive goes beyond amassing donations; it cultivates a sense of responsibility, empathy, and solidarity within your family. In delivering the collected items to the chosen charity, your kids will get to see the direct impact of their efforts.
9. Donate blood
Holiday blood donations are common, and if you are healthy and able to donate, you may consider it. While your children may be too young to donate (in most states you have to be 16 or 17), they can come along to support you and learn about the significance of blood donation in saving lives and contributing to the well-being of others.
Visit https://www.redcrossblood.org/ to find a blood drive near you and carve out the time for an appointment. Amidst all your other commitments during this busy time, donating blood is quick and easy, and will model responsible, empathetic behavior to your kids.
10. Help families pay off their layaway balances
You can make a direct and impactful difference this holiday season by helping families pay off their layaway balances, through the heartwarming initiative at https://payaway.org/. Your children will learn the value of generosity and support from this charitable cause.
You can explain to your kids how these financial burdens can impact a family’s ability to provide joy during the holidays, and the importance of giving money when we have a little extra.
If your children have money of their own, such as from an allowance, you can encourage them to consider contributing a small amount. Even small contributions can make a significant impact, and your family will be directly contributing to the material well-being of others.
Clearly there is a whole array of ways you and your family can spread kindness this holiday season. From monthly donations to community cleanups and writing heartfelt cards, you get to choose the avenue for making a positive impact that feels best. Enjoy the magic of the holidays and the warm glow you and your family will feel after giving back!