Mind, Body, & Spirit

charitable donations

Charitable Donations Make The Holidays Merry For All!

It’s hard to ignore the emphasis on material presents at this time of year, don’t you think? It’s one of the traditional ways we show our love to family and friends. Maybe you’d like to cut back on retail excess and focus on the holiday fellowship, instead. But what about the gift of charitable contributions for those we don’t even know?

There are so very many who are less fortunate financially than ourselves. Whether our charitable donations are for soldiers stationed overseas or for domestic abuse families in our own community, there are (sadly) endless opportunities for lifting others up during the holiday season.

Check out these 5 suggestions for sharing the blessings you have. In fact, a few of these ideas will have the added benefit of clearing out what you no longer need or use in your home, too—double score!

charitable donations
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1. Books

Do you have books that you no longer read?

Anything that doesn’t interest you anymore? Or maybe a favorite that could positively influence someone else? As the author of The Book Thief wrote, “Words are life”. 

Many of us struggle with letting go of our books because they seem to define who we are. Yet understand that while they reflect certain interests of ours, we don’t need them sitting idle on our shelves to validate our worth to those who already know us … or to ourselves!

If you’re ready to share some of your collection, consider making charitable donations to your local venues such as:

  • youth centers
  • senior centers
  • hospitals 
  • nursing homes
  • shelters & crisis centers

Donating your time may also be an option. Here’s an opportunity to pack and ship books for our troops abroad: Operation Paperback.

Help foster the imagination and inspire others with the written word!

charitable donations
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2. Clothing

While prepping for the next holiday mixer, pull out a few (or several) garments for the charitable donations box.

Our tastes change over time, not to mention our body shape (sorry)!

Rather than hang on to clothes we may (never) wear “someday”, think about donating those items to make room for the ones that you reach for time after time because they truly fit and flatter.

It’s quite eye-opening when we consider that 20% of our wardrobe is worn 80% of the time. How about reversing that percentage: retain what you love and release what you don’t. It will shed clarity on your actual clothing options!

In fact, it’s not uncommon to hang on to corporate attire long after the dress code has relaxed or you yourself have exited the job. 

Donating to an organization focused on those entering the workforce with little funds for new duds would be an awesome gesture! One such charity committed to helping disadvantaged female professionals is Dress For Success.

If you can spare some time, there is also a strong need for volunteers to counsel those building a new business. Share your corporate wisdom with others through Score, a network of volunteer mentors for new small business owners.

Help others climb the corporate ladder and achieve financial security!

charitable donations
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3. Towels and Linens

At some point, it’s time to refresh our towels, linens and blankets.  

They wear out over time. They fade or fray. And when our color palette changes, our old towels and bedding get shoved to the back of the closet or drawer. 

Yet those are ideal items for donating to your local animal shelter or rescue group! Grab a bag and pull out the ones you no longer use or care about.

There are countless local animal rescues you can help out. Simply google using the search terms, “animal rescue near me” to uncover your options for charitable donations. 

Or give financially to your local Humane Society and help those who can’t speak for themselves. Any of the stray animal causes would also welcome your time or financial donations, as well.

Help keep the four-legged orphans warm and dry!

charitable donations
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4. Toys

Got a spare teddy bear (or two)? 

OK, if you’re over 50 like me, the toys have long vacated the premises! Oh, they may make an appearance from time to time, when our grandchildren visit, but they already belong to those young owners.

Unfortunately, many children lose whatever prized possessions they have when they experience a house fire or when they abruptly flee a domestic abuse situation.

Both local police and fire departments are ideal drop-off sites for donating new stuffed animals. Once again, Google to the rescue! Search using the words, “toy donation drop off sites near me”.

Or here’s another one: Stuffed Animals For Emergencies. And one more noteworthy group to make kids’ holidays brighter is Toys for Tots.

Help children feel secure with your charitable donations when their future feels uncertain.

charitable donations
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5. Pantry Items

Whether you’re clearing space in your pantry or grocery shopping for the holiday meals, consider setting aside some extra food supplies for those who have less.

Hunger affects people of all ages, from the very young to the elderly. An event such as unemployment or a health crisis can quickly lead to food insecurity.

And know that food pantries are especially strained during the holidays so your donations are greatly welcomed. You can search for your local food bank to donate either food or money (or both) here at Feeding America.

Again, if time is an available resource, donating your service in a soup kitchen may be your gift of choice. It’s a real sign of stewardship when we humble ourselves and personally tend to those in need. 

A nationwide resource that provides your local options for charitable donations of both time and money is at Homeless Shelter Directory.

Help nourish those with empty fridges!

declutter your house

The Wrap on Charitable Donations

The drive-through lanes can be long this month at national organizations such as Goodwill. December 31st is the last opportunity for making tax deductible 2021 charitable donations. If you yourself have waited patiently in that giving queue, thank you! 

  • Remember those who are without and consider donating what resources you can
  • Sharing the blessings we have is how a community bonds and thrives

Do you have a tradition of giving back? What charitable donation experience is particularly meaningful for you and why?

Share your thoughts below … and thanks for stopping by!

But First: Plan Now For A Peaceful Holiday Season

If you’re like most, the thought of the upcoming holidays fills you with equal parts of excitement and dread!

After more than a year of lockdown, restriction and confinement, who doesn’t relish the idea of family get-togethers, friends, parties, decorations and presents?

But let’s be honest: there’s a part of you that stresses out…so much to prepare, to buy, to decorate, to bake, to wrap…you name it! Do you find the hustle and bustle exhausting?

Would you prefer a lower key yet fully meaningful celebration?

Let’s take five and think about how we can plan for a peaceful holiday season without losing our composure.  Consider incorporating the following four practices into your holiday routine. 

After all, regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, it’s a sacred time to focus on what matters most….to you and what you truly value!

peaceful holiday season
image by lucie liz | pexels

1. Say "No" to Pinterest Perfectionism

It’s so easy to want everything to be just right. 

From the tree and the home decorations to the presents and the menu. It seems there’s an expectation for each and every facet to be perfect. Or else it falls short.

But why does it have to be one or the other?

There’s nothing wrong with having a realistic vision of your gatherings.

So what if the tree is a little crooked? Who cares if your hand towels don’t sport holiday motifs? 

If family and friend time is what matters more to you, then allow yourself to keep things casual. When you plan for the comfort of your guests instead of the fancy wow of your decor, you’ll be less tense. 

In fact, as you haul out your holiday decor, consider paring down your collection.

This would be an ideal time to approach your adult children about selecting which items they would love to receive for their own home. 

Just remember: if they say no, don’t take it personally. Their taste may be different. Or they may truly want to keep their own decor on the minimalist side, as well. Part of a peaceful holiday season means accepting others’ personal preferences, too!

When you retain only your favorites, your set up and take down routine will be much easier—less time consuming. And every item will be sure to bring joy when they’re displayed.

People may compliment a well coordinated theme. But the genuine fellowship is what they will remember with a smile, long after the party has ended.

Circle back to this post for more ways to cut yourself some slack: How Perfectionism Holds Us Back From Clutter Free Living

peaceful holiday season
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2. Prepare for Retail Hype

Oh, my: We barely said goodbye to Halloween and now the Pre-Black Friday sales are in full swing! 

Not to mention it always starts well ahead of Thanksgiving. Even the radio stations and streaming music channels have started up with the 24-7 holiday music.  Poor Thanksgiving has become the red-headed stepchild of holidays.

It’s dizzying how persuasive the ads and promotions can be. Not only should we buy the perfect gifts for family and friends. We are supposed to treat ourselves, too. Half-off, BOGO, Close-out, Clearance….the various sales go on and on…and on!

No wonder January is a sobering month when the bills come due! It’s a financial month of reckoning, to be sure. Not exactly how we’d want to start a new year, right?

How about shunning the retail siren to over-buy?

Start by carving out dedicated time to create your shopping list. Decide who’s on it and what you’d like to gift them. 

One of my favorite suggestions (and not just for the hard-to-buy) is to give experiences instead of things. Perhaps a family outing of some sort?

It can range from a simple night at the movies or an Escape The Room night, all the way to a weekend cruise…you choose! 

Talk about making memories that will last a lifetime. If you plan this correctly, you may just succeed in avoiding the mall altogether!

And with the unending supply chain snafus, how about considering gift certificates for a massage, a facial or a pedicure?

Of course, there will always be the iconic present we received as a child… a beloved doll, a shiny bike or a pretty necklace. Yet if you think back over your adult years, what stands out more: the gifts or the memories? 

What if we plan for the holidays with a focus on “presence” rather than “presents”? Wouldn’t that take a load off our shoulders?

diffuse family drama
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3. Diffuse Family Drama

Gathering with the clan over the years during the holidays can be really good. Or really awful. 

If you’ve experienced both or something in between, think about what the conversation was about.

Was the focus on what you were thankful for or what you appreciated in each other? That was likely the positive memory. But if the dialogue veered towards old wounds, unmet expectations or pointed criticisms…yeah, that was a downer.

So what if you prepare for this year’s get together with an upbeat attitude?

How about staying with the present fellowship rather than detouring to past offenses? How about gently redirecting the conversation towards neutral ground when it detours negatively?

When we look for the value that each family member brings to the table, our holiday celebration can be joyful and loving. Save the points of contention for another day, when the issue can be discussed rationally and fairly.

People don’t change just because we tell them to!

Instead, plan to enjoy the finer qualities of your family. Imagine how this can be a peaceful holiday season you look back on with love.

peaceful holiday season
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4. Pause for Reflection

End of the year holidays provide a timely segue to plan for the New Year and all the hope it can bring.

Taking time to evaluate how this year unfolded for you has value. Sometimes the regret we have for how we handled (or didn’t handle) things can weigh on us. It makes it difficult to enjoy the holidays when we have nagging guilt or disappointment. Even if we skip this step, those unresolved feelings will continue to hover below the surface until we eventually address them.

But what if we plan for dedicated reflection time about our year without judgment? In other words, what if we are willing to acknowledge our weaknesses and not just applaud our accomplishments?  

There’s no reason to beat ourselves up for our shortcomings. Instead, we can be gentle with ourselves (and others) while appreciating where we are at now.

This prior post can kickstart your 2022 New Year’s planning: Declutter and Downsize: Lay the Groundwork for Really Remarkable Results in 2021!

Remember: We are human and we make mistakes. We don’t always take the best course of action or follow through with our goals.

But consider each and every year as a building block towards the next. 

In the end, our journey is always on-going. Embrace each twist and turn along the way!

The Wrap With Mary V

The Wrap

Take time to plan for a serene and heartfelt holiday season.

  • Don’t let retailers or unrealistic standards dictate how you choose to celebrate
  • Take control by deciding where you can avoid excess materialism 
  • Cut back on the drama by focusing on your family and friends, not the decorations and presents
  • Review your year without judgment and look forward to a fresh new year
  • Breathe! Enjoy a peaceful holiday season

Your turn!

  • Ready to wean yourself from excessive “retail therapy”? How will you minimize the spending hype?
  • What is one of your most memorable peaceful holiday season practices?
  • Do you have family members or friends who won’t understand or accept your wish for simplicity? How will you handle that?

Share your thoughts below ... and thanks for stopping by!

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