Creating Traditions of Giving

Doing Good Newsletter


Since you're making lists these days, we have one for you: 10 holiday traditions that can help your family remember about others. Why not choose one or two that will become yearly rituals? It's a great way to reduce the focus on materialism and make your holiday season a little more meaningful. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

- Jenny Friedman, Executive Director


Make a Difference.....

It's easy to weave a bit of service-focused time into your holidays. Just pick one or more of these projects and make it a seasonal event in your family.

  1. Create a giving box. Find ribbons, markers, cut-outs from magazines and other supplies. Then decorate a large box that will serve as your family's "giving box" for the coming year. Use it to collect food or gently used clothes and toys for donation.

  2. Sponsor a family. Many families "adopt" a local family for gift giving. Social service agencies (Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, etc.) can match you with a family in need and suggest gifts - usually basics like hats, mittens, socks, underwear, blankets - and toys! If you need help finding a family, visit VolunteerMatch or the Box Project.

  3. Make cards. Homemade holiday cards brighten anyone's day. Donate your creations to a local nursing home, Meals on Wheels program or veteran's hospital. Or send them to a service member or child with a life-threatening illness

  4. Make blankets. Any family can make these ingenious blankets just by tying - no sewing required! Even youngsters can pitch in. Instructions for a simple no-sew fleece blanket are . Donate your creations to a local chapter of Project Linus, a local shelter, hospital or crisis nursey, or to Soldiers' Angels.   

  5. Make a 2013 calendar of giving. Sit down together and choose one simple service project per month, then write them on a prominently posted calendar in your house. Choose from the ideas on the Big-Hearted Families website.

  6. Pay a Call Each holiday, over 3 million people are confined to places like hospitals and care facilities. More than half get no visitors. You can reduce the loneliness by simply sharing your time. Take along small gifts or homemade treats to share, but call the facility first to see the best time for a visit.

  7. Join a toy drive. Pick out a toy for a child in need, then deposit your gift (unwrapped) at a Toys for Tots location. Having your child help pick out the gift can spark their giving spirit. 

  8. Bake some goodies. Make some treats to donate to a lonely neighbor, food shelf, or group that serves the homeless or elderly. For ideas and inspiration, check out Spread the Bread, a great organization that encourages everyone to "bake a difference." 

  9. Organize a family collection. Choose to collect bookssocksshoes, cereal (for a local shelter) or pajamas - pick a different idea every year.

  10. Give a gift that gives back. Sit down as a family and peruse these special holiday catalogs, then donate to one of them in your family's name.

    1. Heifer International
    2. World Vision
    3. Universal Giving
    4. Changing the Present


Talk About It.....

While pondering your new traditions, remember to include conversations about giving back.

  • Why are family traditions important?

  • Which of the 10 ideas listed here seem like the most fun? The most helpful to others?

  • What could our family do to make our gift giving more fun and meaningful this holiday?

  • How can we ensure that we don't forget about kindness and giving back during the rest of the year?

Learn About It.....

If you want your Thanksgiving to truly be about giving thanks, share one of these 5 gratitude-inspiring children's books, recommended by our blogger, Sarah.


    "Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love."
     - Hamilton Wright Mabi, American editor, essayist and lecturer