This is the time of year for giving, and what we give is just as important as who we give to. I’m not talking about buying a bunch of gifts for our family and friends, but about what we do to help others. Helping people out who may need it, spending time with people who are alone, or doing something nice without expecting anything in return.
If single moms make these types of acts family activities, they’ll teach their children how rewarding caring for others is. Families may even make some new friends in the process.
This list is to get you started, but there are so many things that can be done for others this time of year. Sit down as a family and brainstorm more ideas, then plan how you’ll carry things out.
- Invite the family who recently moved into the house down the street over for your holiday meal. They might be too busy setting up housekeeping to prepare a huge meal, and will appreciate the gesture.
- Help the elderly gentleman next door prepare his yard and home for winter. Spend a day over there raking, banking the trailer, and making sure his woodpile is close enough to the house so he can easily get to it.
- Be sure the elderly lady on your block has a good stock of food and other necessities. Make a few freezer meals in small foil pans, so she can easily pop them in the oven. Put together a basket of basic personal hygiene needs, and bring her to the store if she needs to buy any other supplies. Maybe even take her out to lunch.
- Do you have a neighbor who is in need but can’t get to a food pantry because she doesn’t drive or can’t get around easily? Why not invite her along on your grocery shopping trip each week, taking her to pick up food at the pantry first. This way she’ll know what foods to cross off the shopping list before going to the store. By doing it this way, you’re allowing her to use what money she does have in the most efficient way possible.
- To expand upon the previous idea, before going to the grocery store, but after the pantry, stop at a dollar store so your neighbor can pick up a few of the pricier items for less. Toothpaste, shampoo, soap, and household cleaners wont cost as much at this type of store. You might also help them do some of their holiday shopping while there.
- While plowing or shoveling your driveway, do the same for a neighbor who is laid up due to illness or injury.
- If you have a neighbor who is unable to get around well enough to decorate their home for the holidays, bring a casserole over to their place and do the decorating for them after sharing the meal.
- Are there children home alone after school, waiting for their parents to get home from work. Ask the parents if the children can come over and help you to bake some goodies a couple of times, and maybe to do some crafting once or twice. Let them know you do not want to get paid.
- Are there homeless people in your area? Take up a collection of used and new items and prepare holiday bags for them.
Want to fill bags for the homeless? They are much appreciated by those who are truly in need.
Collect old purses that people no longer use, or buy some at a thrift store. They should be big enough to hold necessary items.
Fill the bags with items such as pads, deodorant, Chapstick, a comb or a brush, hair ties or elastics, a book of word-finds, pens, a mini sewing kit, a mirror, a hair clip, and a small manicure set with a bottle of nail polish and remover.
Collect backpacks or duffle bags that people do not need any longer, or pick some up at a thrift store. They should be roomy.
Fill each bag with items such as deodorant, toothpicks, a comb, a book of crossword puzzles, pens, nail clippers, and a razor with a trial size of shaving cream.
Collect backpacks for teenagers from people you know, or buy them at thrift shops or yard sales. Be sure they have plenty of room.
See the lists items for men or women above for ideas, and add things like a notebook or journal and pens, a young adult novel, and a deck of cards or another game.
Again, you’ll want to collect backpacks.
Fill them with Chapstick, a comb or brush, hair ties for little girls, a small doll or stuffed animal, a yo-yo or other small toy, a coloring book with crayons.
Add as many of these items as possible to the bags: Tissues, cough drops, a few pairs of socks, a toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel, a wash cloth and hand towel, Band-aids and ointment, a book, a bottle of water, applesauce, a few spoons, some crackers, dried fruit, a granola bar, a hat and gloves or mittens, hand wipes, a small can of fruit juice, a pouch of pre-packaged tuna salad and one of chicken salad, a couple of plastic knives, diced pineapple cups, and a roll of toilet paper,
And then tie a scarf to the outside of each bag.
To make things special for little girls and boys, as well as teens, at the holidays, why not fill Christmas stockings with small, wrapped gifts such as a notepad and pencil, a friendship bracelet, and Playdough.
If all this seems too much, do something on a smaller scale, such as a coat drive. Or, give out sets of hats, gloves or mittens, and scarves. These items would be appreciated this time of year.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to help your neighbors this holiday season, and most do not put too much of a burden on your finances.
Whatever your family chooses to do for others this holiday season, do it cheerily and with heart. Always be kind when offering items and services, to let people know you care. Your gestures of friendship will go a long way in making someone else’s holiday a better one.