What better way to celebrate the holidays than by giving back to those around you? Here are some
simple ideas to get you started.
1. Buy gifts from local artisans
Instead of rushing to your nearest shopping mall to buy your last minute gifts, rather head to your
local market, where you could find the perfect gift for your Aunty Phyllis while supporting local
craftsmen and producers — and enjoying a good cup of artisanal coffee.
2. Pick up trash in your ‘hood
The holidays are the perfect time to arm your family with rubbish bags and launch a trash crusade
around your neighbourhood. The first one to fill their bag gets to pick the family movie!
3. Host a block party for your neighbours
There’s nothing like the smell of a braai to bring South Africans closer together — so why not fire
up the Weber and invite some of your neighbours over for a chilled get-together?
You’ll be surprised at how the simple act of sharing a meal can create a lasting sense of
4. Deliver cookies to employees at a fire station, police station or hospital
While most of us get to trade our computers for flip flops, there are a number of hardworking men
and women who sacrifice time with their families to keep us safe and healthy over the holidays.
Why not show them your appreciation by dropping off some holiday treats to make those long days
at work a little bit sweeter?
5. Volunteer at a nearby homeless shelter
Sadly, the holidays aren’t a time of joy and festivity for everyone. It can be especially hard on those
who find themselves without a home over this time.
Help spread the festive cheer by serving a meal at a homeless shelter, or by simply taking the time
to have a conversation with someone living on the street or in a shelter.
6. Donate books to a local under-resourced school
When we think of the holidays, piles of toys are often what comes to mind — but why not rather
give the gift of reading by donating books to your local library or school?
7. Donate blood
For some of us, this is more of a sacrifice than for others — eek! needles! — but it’s one of those
things we should all be doing regularly.
Find out when the next mobile clinic is in your area, roll up your sleeves, and do it!
8. Volunteer at a local animal shelter
The holidays are often a difficult time for NGO’s as many of their regular volunteers are away, so
step in to fill the gap and share the love with our furry friends.
9. Leave a homemade treat with a note for the waste collectors
How many of us can honestly say we’ve thanked — or even greeted — the people who collect our
rubbish every week? And yet without them we’d all be in a state of chaos.
Take the time to look them in the eye and thank them for their hard work.
10. Visit a nursing home and spend time with the elderly
Spend some time with those who are too frail to enjoy many of the activities we take for granted
over this season. It could be as simple as sharing a cup of tea and a biscuit.
11. Donate some of your good-quality, used clothing to a local shelter or charity store
That blue shirt that’s been sitting in your cupboard unworn for months could definitely be better
used and appreciated by someone in need.
Do a quick wardrobe clean out and give away the things you haven’t used in a while to a good
cause, even if they’re brand new!
12. Volunteer to babysit for a couple with small children in your neighbourhood
Those friends who live down the road with the hoard of children and the sleep-deprived look in
their eyes? They could use a break. Phone them up and offer your babysitting services.
13. Encourage everyone in your family to look people in the eye, smile and thank or compliment them
What with all the shopping, meal planning, family organising and general craziness that
accompanies the silly season, we often end up forgetting to be courteous to one another.
Make it a family rule that during the holidays, everyone needs to be more polite and considerate,
whether it’s to one another or to a stranger in the shopping queue.
14. Set up a free refreshments stand on a hot day
Younger kids will love the chance to play “shop” and set up their own lemonade stand, and you’ll
be amazed at how such a small act of kindness can break down barriers and spread smiles.
Do you have any other ideas? We’d love to hear them!