I have a confession. While I totally love Christmas, I kinda don’t love Christmas. It’s the time of year when I feel I should be the most selfless, the most humble, the most giving, the most outward focused, but I pack my life so full of stuff (and cookies), that it’s practically impossible for me to look beyond my safe, selfish little bubble of happy family, friends, and parties.
But my Christ does not call me to be safe. He knows I love my family, but also to calls me love my enemies. He wants me to love Him in the the poor, the lonely, the broken, the hurting, the outcast. He calls me to the sacred moments with Him and other people.
So I don’t love Christmas because I find myself feeling extra guilty for not giving as I should give. Thankfully, Christ doesn’t call me to guilt. He calls me to Him. And together we work on giving more.
Today the lovely Karyn has offered me the opportunity to share some ways my husband and I are giving more during this busy time of year. We don’t have children yet, but many of these are perfect for kids as well as adults. I hope you find some ways to step outside yourself this Christmas season and be Christ to those who truly need Him now.
12 Ways to Give More This Christmas
Homeless Care Packages
It’s cold outside, even in California (it snowed here!). Create care packages to pass out to homeless people you meet in the street. You might include a pair of socks, hand warmers (you can get them at Costco), a granola bar, and a bottle of water. If you have a moment, ask their name and how they are doing. A friendly person who is genuinely interested means wonders to someone who is often ignored.
Give a Big Tip
People working in the restaurant industry often can’t choose their schedules. They end up working on holidays and don’t get the time to spend with their families. Have everyone in your party include a few extra dollars and make your server’s day! Write a note to go along with the big tip, thanking them for their service and telling them they are appreciated.
Invite People to the Table
I’m a big believer in communion through feasts. It feels wonderfully biblical and I can’t imagine a time when I feel more connected to the people I love than over a big meal. But who are we excluding? Christ invites everyone to the table, and so should we. Invite the estranged relative, the friend with no family, the coworker who has nowhere to go on Christmas. Your hospitality will mean more than any physical gift you could give.
Get Rid of Your Stuff
You have too much stuff. So do I. But there are a lot of people out there who could truly use a winter coat, a pair of boots, or gently used toys for their kids. Spend an afternoon going through your closets and make a big donation to your local coat drive, toy drive, or Salvation Army. Have your kids join along so they learn about compassionate giving. You absolutely won’t miss your stuff, I promise.
Bake Some Cookies
Bake two batches of cookies — one for yourself (or for a party you’re attending) and one batch for a lonely neighbor. And don’t just drop off the cookies — chat with them a while. Ask if they need anything. Build a relationship that will last longer than the final snickerdoodle.
Help Out an Elderly Neighbor
Depending on where you live, shovel snow, rake leaves, or mow a lawn. If you’re handy, see if they need a sprinkler fixed, a fence mended, or other handyman job done. Ask if they need help with technology to stay in touch with family. Let them know that you’re there to be their hands and feet and eyes when they need you.
Be a Respite
Orphans are on God’s priority list. While foster care or adoption may not be something you can do, you can always offer respite time for parents of these children. Watch your friends adopted or foster kids for an evening while your friends enjoy a night out (of course, making sure you are following foster care rules).
Forgive a Debt
Is there someone in your life who owes you something? It could be money, but it could also be a debt of time or something you’re holding over someone’s head. Let it be a time of jubilee and let it go. And tell them you’ve let it go. Debt can create a chasm between people, and the only way to rebuild is to forgive.
Volunteer Somewhere Unexpected
While soup kitchens are big holiday volunteer hotspots, think of the other organizations that could need your help during the holiday season. Can you volunteer at the busy thrift store, deliver some furniture to a family in need, design Christmas cards for a charity that can’t afford a professional? Use what you’ve been given to serve others.
Clean Up a Mess
No one wants to be the person to clean up a mess, but you can do it so someone else doesn’t have to. Be the person who throws away the litter, paints over the graffiti, and picks up the dog poop. Be the one to get your hands dirty.
Send a Card to a Soldier
Working on a holiday is hard enough. Being a thousand miles from your family is even harder. Let a soldier know they aren’t alone by sending your Christmas wishes to them in a card.
Lessen the Loneliness
The holidays are the worst time of year for the lonely. Think about people you know who could use a friend right now. Meet them for a cup of coffee, invite them when you go out with friends, lend them a listening ear. A lot of times we just want to surround ourselves with positivity around Christmas, but helping a friend through a tough time is an incredible gift.
These are just a few ways to step outside yourself and serve others this Christmas. What are some ways that you and your family give back? Karyn and I would love to read your comments below!
Wonderful ideas — and I definitely agree that Christmas is both a time of joy and guilt. I’ve been working on ways to give back to the community this year, and I found a local program where gifts are collected and distributed to the elderly without family at senior centers/hospice. I was paired with an actual person — not just a statistic! — and shopping for her has been a highlight of my season. Though my gifts were simple, I really wanted to give the present of knowing I was thinking about her. Nothing makes you feel better than that.
Love these ideas! Thanks, Cori!