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Seven Ways to Spark Holiday Magic

The Joys Of Giving

Seven Ways to Spark Holiday Magic

The weather outside may be frightful, but to make this season delightful, there’s much more we can do than wrap up (potentially) unwanted or unneeded items. What’s more: giving creatively offers health perks for givers, receivers, and the environment. Here, find seven ways to spread holiday cheer this year.

Put Pen to Paper.

According to a 2017 report, gratitude is associated with long-term success in relationships and an increased likelihood of optimism, exercise, and reduced reports of physical symptoms. To practice gratitude, call to mind a few friends or family members you’re especially grateful for. Write a letter to them, noting a few specific things they’ve done for you, why you’re grateful to them, and how their help has had an impact on your life. Explain what your life is like now and how often you think of what they’ve done for you.

Do Your Homework.

One 2013 study revealed subjects were happier when told how their gift would make a difference in the recipient’s life, compared with those who didn’t hear these details. So, before giving charitable donations, research the concrete ways your gifts will help someone.

Get Thrifty.

We can save our wallets and the environment by scanning our shopping lists for anyone who might appreciate secondhand gifts. Think vintage accessories, classic books at a used bookstore for avid readers/collectors, fabric remnants to make quilts, one-of-a-kind items, or handmade goods. For kids, try gently used items (books, games, etc.) or a treasured heirloom toy from your family members. This may also help ease children into the habit of reusing and recycling.

Lend a Hand.

A 2017 study comparing volunteers to non-volunteers found that the volunteers were as healthy as non-volunteers who were five years younger. To find out who could use some help this holiday season, start by looking for volunteering opportunities in your local paper or community Facebook group.

Make It Personal.

If your friends and family prefer experiences over things, make creative gifting a priority. Consider taking the giftee shopping, giving them tickets to an event, or consuming goodies at a food festival or coffee shop/restaurant you’ll attend together.

Shop Local.

From our gifts to our dinner tables, we can give back to our community and protect the environment by shopping local. Locally made goods take less fuel to transport and often need only minimal packaging. Find opportunities to shop local by looking for one-of-a-kind locally made gifts at mom-and-pop shops, free-range turkey at the grocery store, winter squash from the backyard, or homemade rolls you’ve freshly prepared.

Present a Priceless Commodity.

If you know someone who’s run off their feet or could use some company, why not give them some of your time? Plan to do something for them (including running their errands, cleaning their car, or organizing a room in their house) or an outing with them. If possible, leave your watch or smartphone at home while completing your task, so you can truly give the activity as much time and attention as it takes.

Written by Carime Lane.

Family Friendly

Give on the Sly. Ask each family member to anonymously give a gift of service to a family member, acquaintance, or stranger. For example, leave groceries on someone’s doorstep; pay for a stranger’s dinner or coffee; leave a kind note; shovel a neighbor’s driveway; or sneak a few dollars into a coat pocket.

Prepare Cards for Those Who Protect.Create holiday cards with your kids to drop off at fire halls or police stations.

Make Crafty Gifts for Elders. Make use of the creations your children have crafted over the holidays by bringing them to an assisted living center.

Remember All Creatures. Extend generosity to all creatures by helping kids fill up a bird feeder, set out a salt lick, or bake homemade treats for the neighborhood pooches.

Share Festive Songs. Gather your kids and neighbors to sing carols for widows/ widowers, seniors, or those you know are alone for the holidays.

Photography by photoguns/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

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