The holidays can be tough on a lot of people, for a multitude of reasons. Food and living expenses are high right now, and some people may be struggling just to keep the heat on. It’s during times like this I feel kindness is most important. You never know what goes on behind closed doors, so treating people with dignity and respect is so important (beyond the holidays too).
To make matters worse, we’re often bombarded with ads and endless holiday décor on store shelves that try to convince us to spend, spend, spend. Meanwhile, are most of these products even what we need or truly want? It’s unlikely. Overconsumption is at an all time high during the holidays, and for someone on a tight budget, it can feel disheartening. Especially when it’s a choice between putting food on the table, or giving Christmas gifts to your kids.
But the holidays can also be quite magical too! It will be my first Christmas as a married woman, and in our new apartment, so I’m looking to make it extra special this year. I find the most magical thing about the holidays is the idea of giving: Giving to those in need, to a friend down on their luck, to those you love. I love to spoil my friends and family with homemade dinners and treats, especially during the holiday season. But beyond just loved ones, there are so many ways to give and spread kindness this holiday season. Here are some planet-friendly suggestions bound to put a smile on anyone’s face!
6 Ways to Spread Kindness This Holiday Season
1. Donate supplies to your community fridge or food pantry
Do you have a local community fridge or food pantry? Check and see if they’re accepting donations (chances are, they will be) and ask what’s most needed. Canned goods are great, but a lot of community fridges and food pantries can use more fresh food, like spinach and lettuce.
Community fridges help reduce waste and fight hunger. You can typically donate fresh produce, prepared meals, and leftovers – it’s free food that anyone can take.
Each year, tens of billions of pounds of food, more than a third of what’s produced in the U.S., get tossed into trash bins. By supporting a community fridge, you help ensure food doesn’t get wasted and people get fed.
With grocery prices being so high right now (it costs me ~$200 for groceries every week!), it’s so important we help make sure our community is being fed. I’m very passionate about food and believe everyone has the right to fresh produce (tho so many do not have access to it/cannot afford it/don’t have the time to make home cooked meals).
Consider making a meal and setting aside some for your local community fridge (just make sure it’s properly labeled with ingredients/the date you made it). Even better if it’s loaded with veggies!
You can also start your own Little Free Pantry if you’re feeling extra creative and determined. Heck, even just leaving out some non-perishables in a cardboard box with a sign that says “free” in front of your home is great.
2. Ask your loved ones what they truly need this holiday season
Instead of buying them some random perfume, gift them something they actually need. Have they been talking about getting the car washed? Or needing to get the laundry done at the cleaners? You can get vouchers for car washes/laundromats that will help ease the burden.
Are they in need of some new socks, underwear, or basic essentials? Do they simply need more money to pay their electric and gas utilities?
Don’t be afraid to ask what your loved ones truly need this holiday season. Or, if you don’t want to ask, just pay extra attention to what they talk and vent about. Then ask yourself “how can I lighten the load for them?” Trust me, they will appreciate it so much.
When in doubt, money goes a long way! No one will refuse that – and they can use it for whatever they need most.
3. Cook someone a meal, or bake them something from scratch
If you love cooking as much as me, consider surprising a loved one with a homemade meal! Nothing beats a homemade batch of soup, or one of your signature dishes.
If you prefer baking, try baking some cookies, muffins, or a crumble (I LOVE this apple crumble recipe)!
There’s just something about taking the time to make a meal for someone that warms the soul. While it does make a good gift, it can also be done for no particular reason at all, and I love that.
And on the practical side, cooking someone a meal saves them time and money, plus puts food on the table! This is mutual aid at its yummiest, folks.
If you know someone who is struggling to put food on the table, this is a great way to brighten their holiday season. If you have some extra cash, take it even further and buy them some groceries!
4. Prioritize quality time over gifts
Nothing beats quality time. I love the idea of going out with a close friend to a little café on a chilly day, grabbing a hot chai latte and just catching up together.
There’s no better feeling than being listened to. Sometimes, that’s all anyone really needs. And make sure to keep your phone on silent/in your pocket – you want to be fully present and truly hear them.
Undivided attention is such a powerful form of love. I feel like we are constantly distracted by our gadgets now a days, so really making screen-free time for one another is precious.
Some ways to spend quality time together include:
- Treating them out to their favorite café or restaurant
- Taking a road trip/vacation together
- Paying them a visit
- Giving them a call
- Sitting down for dinner at the table together
- Making a craft or DIY together
- Just talking one on one
5. Loan out your skills
Do you know how to sew, knit, or repair items? You have a valuable skill not many people do then! It’s a wonderful thing to loan out your skills to the community, or loved ones, who may be in need of your skills.
For example, if you see a friend has a ripped sock, offer to sew/mend it up; Help someone whose car is their only means of getting to work by fixing it; Fix someone’s leaky faucet, etc.
If you have any sort of repair skill, it could be used to help people save money. And trust me, that will make their day!
Side bonus: It’s better for the environment when we repair our items instead of sending them to a landfill.
6. Volunteer somewhere in your community
What are some local non-profits or fundraisers you could be a part of this holiday season? Giving your time to organizations that help your community is very impactful.
On Staten Island, I know you can volunteer time at Project Hospitality, Meals on Wheels, Staten Island Giving Circle and City Harvest. I’m sure there are many other places on the Island to donate time, but those are a few that stand out.
Churches and places of faith can also have fundraisers and food pantries. You can check to see what your local church is doing for the poor this holiday season.
If giving your time isn’t an option, consider making a donation! Better yet, do it in someone else’s name or memory.
So, what are some ways you’re spreading kindness this holiday season? Let me know in the comments!
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