The holidays bring happiness and a spirit of sharing. Events are planned with family, friends and business associates as we use the holidays as an excuse to socialize and celebrate. Popular forms of sharing are brought to the fore during the holiday season. Many are annual traditions but there are opportunities we should all consider as this year comes with new challenges in this economic environment. Here are some ideas for holiday sharing that can be done by individuals or companies.
Recipes – We all love to eat during the holidays. We make special family recipes that have been passed down through the generations. Christmas cookies are popular as are holiday recipe contests. Thanksgiving is known for food a plenty and potlucks and office parties during the season include opportunities for us to impress others with our culinary talents.
Many simply enjoy the process of baking during the holidays, sometimes more than the actual eating itself. This year, why not consider testing a new found recipe and if successful, sharing it with an organization within your community that could use the donation. Consider baking cookies with children and donating them, providing everyone a fun sharing opportunity. Check first to find an organization that can accept donated baked goods, like a retirement home. This active lesson in sharing can become a new holiday tradition to be passed down.
Decorations – During the holidays decorations come out of closets where they have been hiding through the year. Wreaths are placed on doors, lights appear on houses and city streets are adorned with greenery and candy canes. This year, take a look at your boxes of ornaments, lights and holiday decorations to see if you really use or need all that you have gathered through the years. If you have excess, donate those to others who may not be so fortunate. Your local schools may know of families that would greatly appreciate the gesture.
Holiday Cards – Receiving the annual holiday card is something we look forward to each year. It is an opportunity to stay in touch with friends and family we do not see often enough. Business holiday cards are great for networking and strengthening business relationships. Charity holiday cards donate a portion of the proceeds to describing charities. Every year we buy new cards while holding onto the ones from the year before. Consider donating these unused cards to someone who can put them to good use. This form of recycling holiday cards helps the environment as well as those who will benefit from their use. It also relieves clutter so you can use that space for more important things, like the keepsake photo Christmas cards you receive from others.
Clothing – Use this opportunity to go through your drawers and closets and thin out your wardrobe. A good winter indoor activity, make room for your new Christmas sweater by donating items you no longer need or wear. If you did not wear something all summer, go ahead and get rid of it. If you do not remember the last time you wanted something you probably will not miss it anyway. Charities will struggle more this year, given the economy, so will definitely appreciate your donated items. Help someone else during the holidays while simplifying your life. Think how much easier it will be to find that special turtleneck you wanted to wear when you do not have to look through a jammed closet full of unused clothing.
Gifts – Money is tight but a simple well thought out gift can bring as much joy as an expensive one. Begin now by listening and paying attention to those you will be getting gifts for later. Does that person really need more "stuff" this year? What can you give that would be appreciated and help others as well? Consider gifts sold by non-profit organizations. A donation to a charity in someone's name is an good idea. A handmade gift may be more appreciated than a store bought one. Maybe you have something you would not mind passing on that has been invited. Give a gift of yourself by applying for your organ donor card. Give a gift of yourself by volunteering during the holiday season.
Holiday parties – Start a tradition. This year when your family, friends or co-workers gather, charge admission to the annual party. Ask that each participant bring something that can be donated to a charitable organization. The party will be just as enjoyable and all will feel they have contributed a small part towards making the holidays better for someone else.
Sharing your good fortunes, personal strengths or just your time to help others during the holiday season is a win-win. You feel good by helping others and others benefit from your contributions. Start your own tradition of sharing during the holidays and continue the gesture beyond the season, through the year ahead. Such actions set good examples for others and can become contagious. Happy holidays!