I love the holiday season! I love the food, the smells, the songs and the giving. My husband and I decided years ago to stop getting each other holiday gifts. We instead enjoy a celebratory meal for birthdays and gifts if there is really something awesome like a birthday milestone. Instead of buying each other stuff, we spend that money on giving.
Today I took our toddler to drop off a Toy for Tots. This was a big event because convincing a 3 and a half year old that they don't actually need the toy is tough. But, I was so proud of him when he handed it to the lady and told her it was "for the kids."
So in the spirit of my toddler who had a giving - and probably fleeting - moment today, here are some of my ideas for holiday giving.
1. Adopt a Family or Senior. I love this because it is local. It is also fun and can give you an excuse to shop. This is my excuse every year to enjoy Black Friday. I love finding deals that allow me to give more to our adopted family. When we adopt a family we do it with our extended family to divide the cost. We have typically spent about $600 for a family of 2 or 3 including their gift cards. This year we had the option to Adopt a Senior so we chose chose to try that option. We will have spent about $200 on it but it has been tougher to find the requested gifts. Kids stuff is easy to find, but large print books and 3 way lamps are much tougher.
You do need to decide to do an adoption in early November and plan to be delivering gifts to the drop off location in early December.
2. Toys for Tots. This is easy and inexpensive. Pick out a toy and bring it to a drop off location. I thought you could only take them unwrapped but you may be able to do both. You can of course do multiple toys. We have two more to bring, but I'm going to do them one at a time for the toddler to experience more giving.
3. Local Food Bank or Pantry. You can collect items but it is also really helpful (and easy) to send them a check. By sending the bank money they can purchase needed items and fill the item voids from canned food drives. But with children, bringing canned food would probably add more reality to the action.
4. Donate used items. Cleaning out your closets is a way to help those less fortunate (in the form of jobs and the value of the item sale) while also clearing out some clutter. Clothes are the most common but you can also donate household items like towels, blankets and kitchen supplies. Blankets and towels in rougher shape can often find a home at a local animal shelter. I've heard mixed reviews of using the box drop things, so I take them to a local place.
5. Salvation Army buckets. I love giving change to these buckets. It is so easy to do, the bell ringers are every where and it doesn't cost much.
Overall, donate to the causes you support. As much as possible keep this local. Typically more of the money donated locally will be used locally. Sometimes you will find that national organizations devote a large chunk of their budgets to advertising or causes you don't support. We used to support Heifer International - until they ran a story promoting going meatless to save the planet. After that we switched to local giving.
What are your favorite forms of holiday giving? Any suggestions for giving with a toddler?