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Friday, December 1, 2017

How to Spread Holiday Cheer Through Giving: A Charity Navigator Guide

For many of us, the holidays are a hectic time of year! Our inboxes, mailboxes, and online profiles are inundated with holiday emails, sales, advertisements, and social media posts. We're juggling school holidays, office gift-exchanges, and out-of-town family. The stress of it all can threaten to dampen anyone's holiday spirit, but you don't have to let it dampen yours!

There are all kinds of ways to weave small acts of kindness into your holiday routine this year. When we share small acts of kindness with one another, the effect can be greater than you might think. Sure, you spread cheer to someone else, but in the process, you elevate your own mood and inspire more giving by setting an example for those around you. All of these can have a profound—and merry—ripple effect. You may enjoy the feeling so much that your giving spirit lives on well past the holidays.

Here are 5 ways you can drum up the holiday spirit this season (and hopefully beyond):

  1. Volunteer. Serving others melts away the cynicism and primes the heart for a renewed sense of generosity. If you’re not feeling jolly this holiday season, the easiest way to change that is to do something for someone else. Shovel the driveway for a neighbor, volunteer at your local animal shelter, or pick up a friend from the airport after her holiday travel. Helping others gives you perspective on your own situation and helps remind you to appreciate what has been given to you.

  1. Bake. We’re all entitled to indulge a little every now and then. Share the sweet merriment with others this holiday season—your neighbor, the babysitter, or your favorite barista. Consider bringing treats to the office to share with coworkers. You don’t need the surname Stewart to master the craft of baking cookies. Start with a boxed mix and jazz it up with fun holiday-themed packaging.

  1. Plan an office potluck. There are a variety of holidays celebrated during this time of year—Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa to name a few. Plan a potluck where everyone brings a traditional dish from their holiday celebrations. This is a great opportunity for you to build a closer relationship with your team and coworkers.  

  1. Start a new tradition. Inventory your childhood holiday traditions that may have been neglected in recent years—are there any you can revive? Or perhaps create an altogether new tradition! Find an ice skating rink (bonus if it’s outdoors), visit a local holiday craft fair, plan to decorate your home on the same day every year, or make your own holiday cards.

  1. Donate to your favorite charity. Find a charity whose mission serves your passion. The fact that that are over 1 million charities means you don’t have to settle for an organization that isn’t a perfect match for your beliefs and goals.

Kindness truly is contagious. Here’s wishing you a cheerful holiday season that renews not only your giving spirit but is one that creates a profound and merry ripple effect.

Happy holidays from Charity Navigator!

Written by Lindsey Struck, Director of Program Development at Charity Navigator.

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