This is one of my favorite times of the year–not because the weather is especially nice (I’m not fond of the cold), but because it is a season of giving.  Everyone seems to be a little more generous and charitable around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Although the spirit of giving can abound this time of year, the spirit of “me-ism” can quickly sneak in if we’re not careful.  As much as we want our children to get excited about all of the festivities this time of year brings, we also want to teach them to focus their hearts and minds outwards on others, just as Jesus himself did.

Below you will find 25 relatively simple ways your family can serve together this holiday season.  Many of these activities require little to no money.  Try one, two, or even all of them (if you’re really ambitious).  🙂

  1. Volunteer at a soup kitchen (you’ll most likely need a food handler’s license to serve food).
  2. Ring bells for the Salvation Army.
  3. Host a Christmas dinner for the widows and widowers at your church.
  4. Deliver cookies to the employees at a fire station, police station, or hospital on Christmas Day.
  5. Choose a child’s name off of a giving tree and pick out the gift together as a family.
  6. Pool together some money to buy a tank of gas for a friend or relative who can’t afford to go home for Christmas.
  7. Make blessing bags as a family to keep in your car.
  8. Recruit several families and adopt a nursing home.  Buy a simple gift for each resident (lotion, slippers, holiday throw blankets, etc) and arrange a time to deliver the gifts.
  9. Send Christmas cards to the military overseas.
  10. Deliver a baked good, or even disposable plates and napkins, to your neighbors.
  11. Leave a Christmas card (and perhaps a little treat) in your mailbox FOR the mail carrier.
  12. Go caroling at a nursing home.
  13. Host an Operation Christmas Child Packing Party.  But hurry, collection week starts November 12.
  14. Take balloons or small gifts to the children’s ward of your local hospital.  You probably won’t be able to deliver them to the children themselves due to privacy policies, but you can at least give them to the nurses to deliver or ask the parents who are with their children at the time.
  15. Choose a day to serve each other inside your own home.  Take out the trash for your husband, encourage your children to pick up their sibling’s toys, and show appreciation for one another.
  16. Pay for someone’s order behind you in the drive through.
  17. Prepare a meal together as a family and take to a sick or elderly friend.  You can use this free “From Our Kitchen to Yours” printable for baking/reheating instructions.
  18. Encourage every member of your family to look each person they come across that day in the eye, smile, and express their appreciation with a simple “thank you” or a compliment.
  19. Go to the grocery store together as a family and pick up a few items for your local food pantry.  Many stores have drop-off locations within the store itself during the Thanksgiving/Christmas seasons.
  20. Volunteer to babysit, as a family, for a couple with small children so that they can go out on a date.
  21. Clean out your coat closet and take your old coats to a local shelter.
  22. Set the timer for 10 minutes.  Have each person in your house go through their books and choose a few to donate to your local library (or elsewhere).
  23. Volunteer to read a Christmas book aloud to your child’s class … or contact your local book store to see if you can schedule a time to read aloud to their children’s section.  If possible, choose a book about the real meaning of Christmas.  You can find a few of my favorites here.
  24. If you have a homeless population in your town, consider delivering gift cards or even hot hamburgers from McDonald’s one winter day.
  25. Invite someone new to your Thanksgiving or Christmas feasts, perhaps someone who might not have a place to go otherwise.  Your family will be blessed as will the person you invite.

{Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on MomLife Today in 2012…these ideas are so helpful, we wanted to be sure you had the opportunity to consider them with your family this year!}

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  1. Crystal M says:

    Tons of great ideas …. one of my favoirtes is # 18. What a great way to make my children (and us as adults as well) mindful of others and their feelings. Everyone likes to be encouraged and appreciated. Thanks for a great list Jenae!

  2. Leila Stewart says:

    I am always looking for ways to bring Christ into Christmas. Thanks, Jenae!

  3. Janka Bodka says:

    Thanks for nice ideas! However, I WISH we serve the others with the same force through ALL the YEAR :-), not just a Christmas time.

  4. What a great idea for a post – I like how many of them are actionable too!

    I love:

    8. Recruit several families and adopt a nursing home. Buy a simple gift for each resident (lotion, slippers, holiday throw blankets, etc) and arrange a time to deliver the gifts.

    This is a particular topic that is close to my heart. I hope that I can do this with a few friends this season.