‘Tis the season for bestowing gifts. And once again, you’re struggling to come up with the perfect present for your spouse, child, friend, or neighbor. Maybe now’s a good time to replace the “perfect” gift with one that captures the true meaning of giving.
Think of it as adopting a more heartfelt, global perspective. Instead of giving your colleague at work a gift card to Starbucks, consider making a donation in their name to a children’s refugee agency such as UNICEF. Or bag the fruit basket for Aunt Lisa in favor of a contribution to her favorite cause.
Here are some other ways to go beyond the gift-giving norm:
- Seek out gifts made by third-world artists and craftsmen. Chances are you’ll come across some unusual finds that will ultimately benefit those who are struggling to make a living.
- Give an elderly neighbor a helping hand all year long with a homemade coupon book that includes free rides to doctor’s appointments, providing meals to them, and spending some time chatting about their day.
- Adopt a family that’s in need this holiday season. It could be someone who was left homeless by a devastating fire. Or parents who can’t afford to buy gifts for their children. Check with your local shelter or church to find out who could use your help.
- Give the gift of your time. Volunteer at an animal rescue shelter or soup kitchen. Organize a clothing drive for the homeless. Read to kids at the local library. Deliver meals to shut-ins and the elderly.
- Donate a ham or turkey to a homeless shelter. Go one step further and offer to help serve their holiday dinner.
- Contribute to an organization that’s focused on improving the lives of impoverished people. There are plenty of causes both nationally and internationally to support, from basic medical care to clean drinking water. Check in advance that the organization you’re donating to is legitimate and makes the most out of the donations it receives.
- Ask friends and family for unwanted coats, gloves and hats, then personally hand them out to people in your town who you think could use them the most.
- If you have a particular talent – like crunching numbers or fixing things – offer it for free to a local non-profit organization in your neighborhood.
Leave a lasting and memorable imprint on the lives of others with gifts that truly embrace the spirit of the holidays.