Recent studies show that just the thought of generosity can make you feel good, and giving any amount—even if it’s only a little—can feel just as good as if you’d given away a lot (you can check the article out here).
It’s easy to think, “I’d give more if I only had more.” But a 2010 article in Psychology Today actually revealed that people with lower incomes were repeatedly more generous than people with larger incomes—partly due to their empathy and compassion.
So, if you’re feeling the stress of finances and having very limited time this holiday season, maybe what you really need is a generosity pick-me-up. That’s why we’ve curated a list of ten fun and realistic ways anyone and everyone can do their part and give.
#1: Spend time with someone who might be lonely this holiday season.
This could mean anything from visiting someone in a nursing home, having a foreign exchange student over for dinner, or simply sharing tea with an elderly neighbor. As you keep them company and cheer them up, you’ll feel better about yourself as well!
#2: Ask how you can help your local non-profits.
From serving in a soup kitchen to wrapping gift donations, check out what your local non-profits need help with this holiday season.
#3: Leave a secret gift for someone in need.
There will always be people who have more than us, and there will always be people who have less than us. Find someone who has a need that you can meet, and see if you can surprise them. That could mean putting together a basket of food items to leave on a doorstep or bringing warm blankets to a family you know is struggling to make ends meet. It could also mean purchasing some small gift cards or canned goods and giving them to men or women who are asking for help on the side of the road.
#4: Run or walk to raise awareness.
Look for a local run or walk that can help raise awareness and finances or help find a cure. You’ll burn off those holiday calories while making a difference—it’s the best of both worlds!
#5: Make a meal for a mom.
It’s no secret that moms of young children often feel overwhelmed. Find a mom near you, and ask if you can bring her a warm meal, or have her family over for dinner.
#6: Write “thank you” cards.
Think of someone who does a lot of hard work, and write them a thank you card. This doesn’t have to be someone you know; you could write to your local fire department or to the janitor at your child’s school. You could even get involved in Operation Gratitude by sending letters to U.S. soldiers overseas!
#7: Pay it forward.
You’ve probably heard of paying the bill for the person in line behind you, whether for their groceries, gas, or coffee. Why not give it a try? Making a stranger’s day will be sure to make you smile as well.
#8: Plan a can drive with your friends.
Host a cookie exchange or dinner party, and ask each friend to also bring some canned goods to donate. Then pack them all up and drop them off at your local food pantry.
#9: Give a small donation to the charity of your choice.
Whether you give $5 or $500, you’ll feel the rush of contributing to something you believe in.
#10: Donate what you no longer need.
Go through your closets, your pantry, and your storage boxes. Put together a bag of all the things you no longer need, and bring them to your local homeless shelter, city mission, or second-hand store. Better yet, get the help of your family so you can share the joy of giving together!
Each of these ten ideas can be done on your own or shared with friends and family. Consider giving some of these a try—it may surprise you just how happy you feel after making a difference in your community!