Start a ‘Giving Countdown’ to Christmas


In preparation for today, Giving Tuesday, I recently started a fundraiser on social media for one of my favorite non-profit organizations. A friend who donated mentioned that they were including the gift as part of her family’s “Gift-Giving Countdown to Christmas.” They’d created an advent calendar of joy and generosity.

Giving Tuesday can feel like a breath of fresh air after the previous several days’ focus on buying all of the things we don’t particularly want or need, on sale, plus free shipping. One day of giving among 365 days in the year is inadequate, but like my friend, you can use the day as a jumping-off point for what the whole season is really supposed to be about—giving to others.

Starting today, there are 22 days until Christmas. That’s 22 opportunities for you and your kids to spread a little holiday cheer. If you want to actually donate to a charity, participate in a coat drive or toy drive, that’s great! But if you’re looking to do a little something every day for 22 days, you’ll very likely need to mix in some budget-friendly options, too.

With the help of my friend, Rebecca, and our Offspring Facebook Group, I’ve compiled a list to get you started:

Day 22: Make a card for a child at your local children’s hospital. (Or you can send cards to Cards for Hospitalized Kids, which distributes them to hospitals across the country.)

Day 21: Write letters to troops overseas.

Day 20: Leave a card and gift card for your trash hauler.

Day 19: Donate pet food to a local animal shelter.

Day 18: Box up your old LEGO bricks and send them back to LEGO (for free) to be cleaned and donated to Teach for America and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston.

Day 17: Write a thank-you note and deliver it to someone who helps you at school, such as a bus driver, crossing guard or office worker.

Day 16: Donate personal hygiene items to a local homeless shelter.

Day 15: Write an uplifting message on a Post-it Note and leave it in a library book for someone to find later.

Day 14: Send a “just because” card to a loved one.

Day 13: Send a lottery ticket to a friend.

Day 12: Donate gently used books to your local Friends of the Library organization (or leave them in the little free library stands that some areas have around town).

Day 11: Drop a thank-you note off to your local police station.

Day 10: Load extra change into the vending machine to buy the next person a bag of chips or a soda.

Day 9: Make a holiday card for a special adult at school, such as a janitor, school nurse or cafeteria worker.

Day 8: Send an uplifting note to someone you haven’t seen in a while.

Day 7: Tape change to a parking meter.

Day 6: Make tied fleece blankets and donate them to a local children’s hospital, homeless shelter or foster care agency.

Day 5: Deliver holiday cards to a local nursing home.

Day 4: Volunteer at a food pantry or homeless shelter.

Day 3: Deliver homemade baked goods to your local fire station.

Day 2: Give a double-tip. (Tip your server, bartender or barista double what you normally would today.)

Day 1: Deliver a bouquet of flowers to a neighbor.

Have more ideas for ways to give or favorite family giving traditions? Leave them in the comments!


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