Christmas is by far my favorite time of the year, but not because I love getting presents (although I’m definitely taking advantage of the holiday to get things I’m too cheap to buy for myself). What I love most about Christmas is the family time and also the joy of giving. One of my first posts I wrote a few months ago was about a study done that shows that people who give actually make more money than those who do not. It all ties back to the psychology of giving.
So today I want to take a moment and tell you about my favorite ways to give. The point of this post isn’t to brag, but hopefully they sound awesome enough that you’ll want to do them too!
Fill the cart
This is definitely my favorite. I’ve done it a couple of times around Christmas time, but haven’t been able to the last couple of years because we couldn’t afford it. Basically you just head over to the nearest grocery store and fill up an entire shopping cart with canned food. It’s ridiculously fun to pull entire cases of soup off the shelf and dump them in your cart, especially the looks you get from other people 🙂 When you get to the cashier, you’ll get the “Are you freaking kidding me?” look, but as soon as you tell them you’re donating it all to the food bank, you get to spend the next 20 minutes chatting with them as they’re checking you out and they’re grateful you came to them because they felt like they got to be a part of it. Both times I’ve done it the cost ended up being around $300, but if you think about the people it’s going to, the money is nothing.
Do your own food drive
About five years ago, the company I worked for was doing an employee food drive and different departments were pitted against each other to see who could bring in the most food. My friend, Shaun, and I decided we were going to singlehandedly destroy the entire company, so we got a bunch of bags that had the company logo on them and stapled to them a little explanation about what we were doing and when we would come by to pick up the food. We ended up bringing in over 2,000 lbs. of food! We didn’t spend any of our own money on food, but we probably spent 10 hours dropping bags off and picking them up. The closest I can come to describing the feeling I felt was pure joy. It also was great to see the shock on our co-workers faces when they realized they didn’t have a bin big enough to fit all our food in it.
Deliver Sub for Santa
Last year my wife and I visited the local United Way to see what we could do to help with their Sub for Santa program. We didn’t have any money to buy any gifts, but they told us they needed help delivering gifts. We called some families to see if the parents would be home in the next few hours and then grabbed bunch of bags full of toys and drove them around the city. It gave me a good chance to see firsthand those people who struggle this time of year and it was amazing to see how grateful they were. Every single one of them had a gift for us when we got there. They were all homemade and I could tell they put a lot of work into them. They all gave us hugs and I almost felt like we didn’t really deserve all this stuff because we weren’t the ones who bought the gifts. We didn’t even organize any of it. We just brought it to them, but they didn’t care. We were the representation of all of that and they were ecstatic.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen
When I was unemployed at the beginning of this year, one of my favorite things to do was to volunteer at the local soup kitchen. I spent five hours every Thursday when I could be there preparing, cooking and serving food. I never actually saw the people we were helping because it was set up like a restaurant with waiters and a small menu, but I got to meet a lot of other volunteers and talk to them while we were making and serving the food, and we got to help feed the hungry.
Bake some delish Christmas goodies
This is definitely my wife’s favorite Christmas activities. The last Saturday before Christmas is set aside for browsing recipes, shopping for ingredients, and baking. I look forward to it because we both love baking together and I always get a good sampling of each thing we make. Actually, I’m pretty sure we didn’t even eat normal food on the day we did it last year. As soon as we’re done baking, we divvy everything up onto plates and take them around to our list of people. We usually spend around $50 on everything and make five or six different things, and it’s awesome!
Pay for someone’s meal
This one I haven’t done before, but I definitely want to. I hear and read stories about it all the time. The main problem is probably that I just very rarely go out to eat, and I don’t go through fast food drive thrus ever, really, which is where this usually happens. But who knows? Maybe one day I can help break the record for the longest drive thru pay-it-forward.
This is something my wife did at her high school’s Senior Night football game. During halftime, it was announced that her and some of her students would be running around the stands with buckets for 60 seconds trying to get people to donate money for the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. In that 60 seconds they gathered $260, which is pretty solid for a school with less than 500 students.
I’m sure that if you wanted to do this, you’d have to collaborate with the school administration, but it’s amazing to think what people can accomplish in so little time when we’re all working together.
What are some of your favorite ways to give? Have you been on the receiving end of a creative way to give?