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Give back this season

Want to get away from the stresses of holiday shopping, planning and entertaining? Volunteering is a great activity that can bring your family together and focus your energy on creating the good. Here are some ideas to get into the holiday spirit that just might become a seasonal holiday tradition.

Deck their halls.

If you’re planning a family gathering this holiday season, and looking for something that can keep the kids engaged, consider helping a neighbor who needs a hand putting up some holiday cheer. Installing holiday lights for a senior citizen can brighten up their day, and your street. You can also create wreaths to distribute to neighbors or local businesses. Check out some examples, or watch this instructional video and click here for more tips and ideas to spread holiday cheer in your community.

Be a family for a military family.

Many of our service men and women are away on assignment over the holidays, leaving spouses and their families with extra stress, especially if the family is new to your community. This DIY guide can show you how to welcome these families by volunteering to help out with tasks like babysitting, shopping, preparing a meal, or helping to locate a reputable contractor in the area. It also includes ideas to help you inspire other members of your family and your town to do the same.

Take up a collection.

A simple way to gather food for your local food bank is to ask friends and family to bring a non-perishable item with them to your holiday party or meal. Or, you could take it one step further and go door-to-door with your group, spreading out around town and making a competition of it, to see which members of your family can collect the most food. Equally fun, and particularly holiday focused, is a toy drive using the same approach.

Add a 4-legged member to the family.

Thinking about buying a kitten or a puppy for the kids this holiday season? Fostering or adopting a pet can be a cost effective alternative, and a great opportunity to bond with your children and teach them valuable lessons about responsibility. The folks at Muchlove.org detail some of the benefits of pet adoption. There are also animal shelters with special holiday foster care opportunities with minimal time investment. Generation Wags has tools to help you plan fundraising events, find shelters where you can volunteer and even get the rescue process started.

Keep out the cold

Discover four ways to help ensure that the vulnerable in your community remain safe and warm.

Put a bow on it: Send a care package

A holiday care package is a box of sunshine sure to brighten someone's day. And there are plenty of ways to prep a holiday box and that prompt a smile