(Family Features) If giving is an important aspect of your holiday traditions, you may find yourself repeating the same activities year after year. While the giving feels good, it can also grow monotonous. This season, make your generosity feel fresh and new by putting your own unique twist on your favorite holiday traditions.
Cook extras for the cookie exchange. A baking party is a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season. The delightful aromas and hours of laughter blend with the sweet treats for a cheery (and tasty) tradition. This year, instead of simply baking cookies to trade with your friends, encourage everyone to bake several extra batches and take them to a local soup kitchen or senior living community.
Extend a seasonal icon. The ringing bells and red kettles found outside of retailers across the nation are nearly as symbolic of the holiday season as twinkling lights and red-nosed reindeer. During the holiday season, more than 3 million families and children rely on The Salvation Army to provide them with a warm meal on Christmas Day or toys for their children. This year, the organization is making it easy to extend those kettle collections offline as well with the Fight for Good campaign, which allows you to create your own fundraiser, including setting a goal and designating the cause you’d like to support. Visit redkettlereason.org to create your own fundraising page and encourage friends and family to donate and start their own pages.
In addition, you can donate to the Red Kettle Campaign by dropping dollars and coins into the thousands of Red Kettles found in front of retail stores and on street corners, or donate your time by contacting your local Salvation Army for volunteer opportunities.
Add a special pre-dinner starter. The holidays bring plenty of opportunities for celebratory meals, and it’s the perfect time to ask everyone to lend an hour or two to a good cause. Instead of spending hours around a table, spend some of that time catching up while you volunteer at a food bank or other charitable organization. When you make your way on to dinner, your festive spirit may be even stronger for the difference you made together.
Travel with care. As you flit from one place to the next checking off your list of holiday chores, you may encounter any number of homeless and needy families. Instead of simply handing over a few dollars as you pass by, keep a supply of holiday care packages in the car. Include items like warm socks or gloves, toiletries and non-perishable snacks. You may even want to include an uplifting note to share some festive seasonal cheer.
Give gifts with meaning. If you’re like most people, there are many on your shopping list who truly don’t need a thing. Instead of wracking your brain, donate to a cause in their honor. It may be the foundation of a beloved alma mater or an organization serving orphans in the country where they honeymooned. The more personal the connection, the more gratefully it will likely be received. After making your donation, simply gift your recipient with a card that explains the contribution you’ve made in their name.
No matter which cause you support, a fresh approach to your charitable giving can renew your spirit and enthusiasm for helping those in need this holiday season.