Guest editorial: Simone Mets, author of Very Christmas, has spent her life connecting with others and keeping her eyes peeled for opportunities to give back. She is a passionate volunteer and mentor.
Each year, we are teased earlier and earlier of the impending holiday season.
Then suddenly, time flies, and, as if by magic, we find ourselves right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of it all.
Before things get too crazy, take the time to establish a giving tradition, whether it’s with your friends, family, significant other, or coworkers, and get cracking!
Start with this: The Un-Gift List, which won’t cost you a thing.
Everyone knows that it’s the season for “list making.” This “reverse list” is comprised of things people want to give to others who are less fortunate. It’s a great way to give back, and an opportunity to reflect on things that were on previous holiday wish lists.
Consider this: are those things still being used? Have they been outgrown? Were they fun for a short while, then forgotten?
Make a list of those items, ferret them out, and then pack up what you haven’t used with care, adding a secret note about a special memory you may have had with that toy, gadget or once-favorite-wearable. Stow away the note with the item—assuming it’s in good shape—and bring it to be donated.
You can also hold an Un-Yard Sale with the items on your Un-Gift List. Recruit your neighbors or friends to participate, collect several empty boxes, and mark each box with the name of a room that you wish to de-clutter (don’t forget to include the garage, attic or basement).
If you’re at the office, perhaps there’s an organization that collects office supplies for budding entrepreneurs. Do a little searching! Again, make sure that the item is in “give-able” condition. On the day of your Yard “un-sale,” organize the items by category, and watch as your customers smile when they realize that everything at your yard “un-sale” is FREE!
Or, sell your items at low-cost and gift all of the proceeds to charity—picking a charity together can be great, too.
Next, make a list, or rather, mark up your calendar, with notes describing a single act of giving. For example: “Give 5 heartfelt compliments today.”
Or “Give your turn to someone else today.” Perhaps you might attach a $5 or $10 bill to a note asking that it be used to treat someone else and leave it somewhere, like in a hospital. In nearly every hospital, a group of volunteers provide support services or directional help.
While you’re at it, if you’re really in a giving mood, consider creating a holiday-box filled with treats, magazines and other goodies to thank them for their time.
Or, pop in on the local animal shelter with treats for volunteers, staff, or animals in their care.
The holidays are filled with so many gifts. The gift of giving is the only gift that gives back a hundred fold—it is always the right fit.
Photos: CC: frankieleon, Isabelle Blanchemain, Janet Ramsden, Barb Crawford