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How to Give Without Stretching Yourself Too Thin

As the holidays draw near, we’re inundated with requests for giving. Stores want your money, family and work want your time, and it seems there’s never quite enough of either to go around. There are the parties, the school and church functions, and a hundred other things competing for your attention. You want to do something special in this season of giving, but don’t have any time or money to spare, so what can you do?

How about trying something smaller?

There are plenty of big things you can do at this time of year–volunteering at a soup kitchen or donating toys to needy children–but how about a few things that won’t stress you out or break your budget?

Think small. Really small.

Let that car cut in front of you.

Pick up an item that’s fallen off the shelf at the store.

Smile at a frazzled store clerk.

Offer to help carry a bag of groceries.

All of these are small gestures that add up to a lot of good will. It’s free, doesn’t cost more than a minute of your time, and makes someone’s day a little brighter. What’s not to like?

Have a little more time or energy to spare?

If you’re out shoveling your sidewalk, why not do some (or all!) of your neighbor’s too?

Like to knit or crochet? Consider making an item or two for Carewear or a similar charity. These groups provide clothing and blankets for infants and children in hospitals. It’s a great way to share the “warmth” of the season.

Some people (like me) cook and bake to relax. If you’ve got a knockout bread recipe, or a family-favorite batch of cookies, consider making extra and donating to a church or food bank that could use some help. Homemade goods are always the best.

Clean your closets. Many charities, like Goodwill, are in need of blankets and warm clothing at this time of year. If you’ve got an extra bed set that the kids have outgrown, or a pile of sweatshirts that never get worn, pass them along to people who could put them to good use. You’ll weed out some clutter, and help someone else in the process.

Love to sing? Round up a group of friends and family and go caroling. It could be at a nursing home, or just around your neighborhood, but sharing your gift of music with others is fun and free.

Giving doesn’t have to be about dollar signs or stacks of presents. Little acts of kindness have the biggest rewards. Making someone’s day a little easier can do so much more to lift spirits than the latest gift or gadget, and isn’t that what this season of giving is all about? You can feel good about making life a little easier for another person, and you won’t have to spend a dime to do it!

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