We all know how easy it is to get sucked into the craziness of Christmas, and how easy it is for kids to get caught up in and focused on presents. So I asked for your ideas of ways to serve during Christmas, and you helped me come up with a great list!
Some are big and some are very small, but all of them will make a difference in your Christmas season, and will change it for the better.
Also, I love that in this list there are ideas for families of any age, with any budget! Get your teenagers, grown children, little children, and anyone else involved in serving this season.
Here are thirty GREAT ideas!
- Parents give their grown children money to shop for needy families. My parents did this a few years ago. They gave us each $100 and told us it was meant for service in some way. We decided to match the $100 and do a secret santa for a local family who had just lost their child. It was such a fantastic experience for all of us.
- Sponsor foster kids in a local foster home and get them things from their wish list [tip: choose children close in age to your children so they can relate!] We’re doing this this year. We were connected to a lady who works with the local foster home, and she gave us four children who each had one thing on their wish list. I put the wish lists in each of our December 1st boxes last weekend, and we’ll be collecting the items this week and donating them together.
- Donate gently used toys to the preschool they attended. This is an easy way to give back to a place that is special to your family.
- Pick out new toys to donate to an adoption agency.
- Do 30 days of random acts of kindness! Make a list of little random acts, and remind each other every day.
- Give your kids one less gift for Christmas, and instead take them to pick out one thing for someone else, then give to a family in need.
- Leave a note on someone else’s car. So easy, and it’ll make someone’s day!
- Pray for others.
- Buy or donate coats for the homeless. The youth in our local church do a drive for coats for the homeless every year, and it’s an incredible experience. Plus, many people have an extra coat in their closet they’re willing to donate!
- Take a freezer meal to someone in need. It makes a big impact for your children to see you serving others in this way! Involve them by having them make cookies for the meal, or write a note to the family.
- Visit a nursing home and bring cards and sing to them. We do this with our friends from church and it’s so sweet. The people in the home love it, and there’s always strength in numbers.
- Write a card to family members who live far away. Everyone loves snail mail, and it’s so important to keep those connections with family members who don’t live close by.
- Say five nice things to people that day. This is a great challenge!
- Bake goodie bags for the mailman, neighbors, garbage men, church leaders, etc. Just a little gesture to say thank you to those who serve you regularly!
- Donate water, canned goods, or toys to a local shelter. Call your local shelter and see what they need!
- Read The Giving Manger and do the month long challenge. This is a little book that comes with a wooden manger and a bundle of hay. For each good deed you do during the month, you get to put a piece of hay in the manger. The goal is to fill the manger so it’s nice and soft for baby Jesus when he’s born at the end of the month. It’s a great visual for kids!
- Ask teachers what they need for the classroom and take your kids to pick those things out. This is a great way to serve your school!
- Find charities that support a cause your kids are interested in (endangered animals, national parks, etc) and donate to them together. If they’re interested in the organization, donating their money to it will be very meaningful!
- Go through their clothes and donate gently used ones to a shelter or organization. This is a great one for teenagers!
- Donate toys to a local children’s hospital. The hospitals have so many children in and out of there, so new toys are always appreciated!
- Operation Christmas Child. Local churches put these shoeboxes together with gifts and necessities for children in need.
- Tie blankets for Operation Linus. This would be a great family activity — you just need fleece, scissors, and lots of hands for tying! Drop off details are here.
- JustServe.org has tons of great ideas of needs in your area! This is a fantastic resource. Just put in your zip code and tons of local service opportunities come up!
- Buy dinner for someone at a restaurant, or behind you in a drive thru! How many of you have had this happen to you? It makes your entire week, right? I totally want to do this for someone this year.
- Donate toys or Pop Tabs to the Ronald McDonald House – Details are here.
- Turn off all your electronics for an entire day and just focus on your family.
- Be a secret Santa for a family in your area, and gift them Christmas with food, gifts, and even a tree if you can! This can be as big or small as you’d like — you could just drop off a plate of cookies, or you can gift an entire Christmas!
- Leave a tip for the waiter/waitress as big as your bill. This is my husband’s service of choice — he always loves imagining their reaction when they come back to get the check and see the 100% tip. We do it every year around Christmas time!
- Make goodie bags for the homeless and pass them out. My friend did this last year — she bought big men’s athletic socks, layered them together, and then put an apple, a bottle of water, and some other goodies inside. She kept them in her car and gave them to people at red lights, but you could also go downtown and pass them out if you feel comfortable. It’s very eye opening for kids to see people in need in this way!
- Follow the LightTheWorld 25 day program. This is a program that my church puts out every year with a service challenge (some big, some small) and a short inspirational video each day. Whether you’re religious or not, it’s a great resource for helping, serving, and slowing down the season.
If you have any other ideas that aren’t on this list, please share them in the comments!