As a mom with young kids, I used to lament not being able to minister like I did when I was single or a newlywed. Now I know there are easy ways to give back during the holidays–and all year round!
‘Tis the season for baking, caroling, and gifting to our loved ones, and it’s also that time of the year when many will look outside of their families and considering giving to others in need.
My husband and I always have made it a goal for our family to minister to others together.
However, when we had three babies back-to-back and six years of diapers, breastfeeding, and middle-of-the-night wake-up calls, lugging our three little ones to both local homeless shelters and on international mission trips proved more daunting than we had imagined.
Thankfully, over the years, we’ve discovered some easy ways to give back during the holidays.
3 Easy Ways to Give Back During the Holidays
1. Donate coats from your closet each fall and winter.
We just began donating coats last year, and we found it to be an incredibly easy yet tangible way to teach giving to our children.
With more than 45 million Americans living in poverty and temperatures dipping below freezing, the need for warmth is great, and coats are a must!
You can choose the coats from your closet together and then deliver them to a nearby shelter or donation center.
If you don’t personally have any coats to donate, you can organize a simple coat drive at your church or local community center.
Or, you can even take your kids with you to a thrift store to cheaply purchase coats to donate.
This little bit of money and effort can make a big impact!
This way of reaching out to others requires very little time, but it can change someone’s winter. An added bonus of donating coats together is that is can double as decluttering your closets!
This is just one of many easy ways to give back during the holidays.
2. Make meals (or a treat!) for the sick or struggling in your community.
Everyone has to cook, right?
My girls love to shadow me in the kitchen, and even at such young ages, they are learning more than I ever imagined when it comes to cooking and baking.
Let your children assist you while you are preparing meals for those in need is an easy way to cultivate a heart of giving to others right from your home!
Although asking a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter is in need of meals is one idea, there are many other situations in which those in our neighborhoods, churches, and communities may be in need of meals, such as:
- those who are sick,
- who are recovering from surgery,
- those who have just lost a loved one and are grieving,
- who just had a baby,
- those who have recently moved (no better way to welcome a new neighbor than with a plate full of cookies or a freshly-baked loaf of bread!), or
- who are struggling financially.
I stick to quick and easy meals when my girls are helping me prepare food to take to others.
My friend Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has developed a phenomenal cooking class for kids called Kids Cook Real Food! She opens enrollment every few months, and she also offers a FREE Knife Skills Class before each new class starts! Katie starts out with easy recipes, and my girls have really enjoyed the classes they have taken through this program!
If you want to teach your kids to cook, I highly recommend checking out the knife skills class and Kids Cook Real Food (the curriculum map in particular will help you know if this class is a good fit for your family)!
If you need some help integrating your kids in the kitchen, check out:
Another idea is to prepare freezer meals for those in need of food. This will allow them to thaw and cook or warm up the foods when they need it most.
Kayse’s post, Bless a Friend with Freezer Meals, has some great tips on how to get started with freezer cooking. The following posts give recipe ideas:
Among these easy ways to give back during the holidays, this one might just be the easiest!
3. Use the holidays as a springboard to choose a ministry your family can support all year long.
Some families choose this ministry together on Christmas Day. Some ministries I personally recommend include:
This ministry only collects shoeboxes right before the Christmas season begins. However, there is no reason why your family cannot collect items for shoeboxes all year round.
Our family has the opportunity to help out with an Operation Christmas Child distribution while we were in Costa Rica this past summer. You can read about our experience here.
I bet your kiddos love baking cookies. If so, you might want to consider organizing one of these bake sale fundraisers to earn money for childhood cancer research!
My girls are begging to learn how to sew. If your little ones are too, they might really love this ministry! Dress a Girl Around the World provides pillowcase dresses for little girls in impoverished countries.
If your family has the space and resources, you might want to consider hosting an orphan from another country during the Christmas season or summer.
This widow sponsorship ministry opens a door for your family to provide the funds for a family in another country to learn a trade that can support her family for the rest of her life!
For years our family gave to our church and a small amount to a missionary family each month. However, we longed for the day we would be able to afford a monthly payment to sponsor an impoverished child until age 18.
Two years ago, we were finally able to take the leap! Our children love writing letters to and reading letters from the little girl we sponsor through Compassion International. She lives in Guatemala and is in between the ages of our oldest two girls. We all dream about visiting her one day!
Both Compassion and World Vision offer highly reputable child sponsorship programs. They partner with Samaritan’s Purse (who runs Operation Christmas Child). Together, they offer Christmas gift catalogs that allow families to sponsor one-time needs through unique gifts like cattle for milk or goats for meat.
My husband Will does regular volunteer work with this ministry, and their marriage study, Two Becoming One, has transformed our marriage.
Will and I especially love that Christian Family Life works to enrich marriages in Latin America. The two of us met in Costa Rica and have a heart for Latin American peoples.
This past summer, we had to back out of going on a church mission trip to Latin American when I got pregnant, so we chose to use that money to purchase a scooter for a Cuban couple who works as Christian Family Life missionaries to their own people, instead.
I wish there was more information about the scooter need on the website, but if you’re interested in ministry, contact Christian Family Life via this page. The scooters help families with no cars get around their cities to minister to others. The cost of one scooter is about the same as it would be for one American to go on a mission trip to Latin America for a week.