6 Easy Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

The Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale situation seems to get crazier every year and while I love it for buying all of my Christmas gifts on sale (and furniture this year too!), it stresses me out!  So, although it seems silly to have one day a year dedicated to giving back, I love that it exists right after that madness because it brings our focus back to what really matters during the holiday season, and all seasons for that matter, helping the people who need it most.

I looked it up because I was curious about when Giving Tuesday started and I learned from their site that it was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past seven years, this idea has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

On the GivingTuesday website, they have a directory to help you find organizations, events, and ways to give back in your own community. That is the best place to start. But if you want more general ideas of how to give back and a great list of gifts you can buy that give back to people in need, keep on reading!

1. Donate food: There are, thankfully, many food banks and shelters across the country that accept food through pantry programs. Feeding America is a great place to start. You can find one of their food banks near you using this tool. Another cool thing they’re doing this year for Giving Tuesday is teaming up with The Starbucks Foundation who will be matching every dollar donated up to $200,000. You can donate here in your name or in honor of a friend. Because of that matching program, for ever $1 you donate, 20 meals will be provided.

2. Donate essentials: We often think about donating food or clothing in the colder months but many homeless shelters need donations of simple essentials like toilet paper, toothbrushes, tampons, soap, and shampoo. The easiest way to figure that out is to call one or two local shelters, ask what they need then make a Target or Costco run. Get a bunch of friends together to donate money for it and you could really make a difference for a group of people near you.

If you’re an animal lover, also consider donating essentials to no-kill shelters. Homeless dogs and cats should feel comfortable too, and you can help by donating towels, blankets, toys, and beds.

3. Donate clothing: J.Crew is making it easy again this year with its partnership with One Warm Coat, an organization dedicated to providing free, warm coats to people in need.  You can donate any gently used coats (they don’t have to be from J.Crew) through December 26th and in exchange, you’ll receive a discount on a new J.Crew coat. After cleaning out my closet last month, I brought in 5 coats to donate and felt so good knowing that 5 more people would stay warm this winter because of that.

You can also call local shelters and ask what they need in terms of clothing. Consider calling homeless shelters, domestic abuse shelters, and organizations that help young people get on their feet. Take the extra hour to make the calls and drop stuff off instead of doing a quick dump at GoodWill.

4. Donate time: Commit to volunteering this holiday season. Pick a cause that is near and dear to your heart and spend time doing that. You could visit sick children in the hospital, clean up litter in a local park, or serve food at a soup kitchen. As a dog-owner and lifetime dog-lover (my AIM screen name was DogFanJ!), pups are near and dear to my heart. One of the items on my fall bucket list was to volunteer at an animal shelter and I’ve finally found a local one that is looking for volunteers to walk, clean, and hang out with some rescue pups. I’m excited to start volunteering there in the next month!

5. Donate money: Obviously this is the quickest and easiest way to give back today and every day. There are literally millions of organizations where you can donate as little as $5 today and any day of the year. For Giving Tuesday, many orgs are matching donations through generous donors or partnerships with companies so today your gift could count more than ever!

A few of my personal favorites are:
Everytown for Gun Safety
No Kid Hungry
Planned Parenthood
Pit Bull Rescue Central

6. Buy gifts that give back: There are a ton of great products you can buy this holiday season that give back. Even if you don’t have time to donate or products to donate, buying gifts that make a difference kills two birds with one stone. Check off your gift list and give back at the same time. Here are a few of my personal favorite gifts that give back. It’s not just Tom’s anymore!

Vive la Mere sweater-$15 of each sweater sale goes to Bring Change to Mind—an amazing organization on a mission to end the stigma of mental illness. Gift one to any woman in your life- yourself, your mama, your sister, or your bestie.

Roma rainboots– For every pair of ROMA Boots sold, a brand new pair of rain boots are donated to a child living in poverty.

The Giving Keys necklace– One of the main goals of this amazing company, is to inspire the world to pay it forward, so they’ve built it into how they do business. Through their social impact employment model, every product you purchase supports job creation for people transitioning out of homelessness. I bought this necklace as a gift to myself to support the brand. I’m so into it.

Cuddle & Kind dolls– These adorable dolls also feed hungry children. Cuddle & Kind has established partnerships with several highly respected humanitarian agencies to distribute meals to children around the world. Their programs and on-the-ground knowledge ensures that every purchase you make will directly benefit children in need.

One Hope Wine– To date, One Hope Wine, has made nearly $5 million in donations, planted 105,172 trees, helped 65,267 pets to find a forever home, helped provide 2,758,428 meals for children, and delivered 190,802 vaccines to end Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Pura Vida bracelets– Pura Vida has donated over $1.5 Million to more than 175 charity partners through the sales of their bracelets. In addition, their bracelets are made by an artisan community made up of over 800 artisans in Costa Rica, El Salvador, India and more, who can count on a steady income and positive work environment thanks Pura Vida.

100% Human tees– Everlane launched the 100% Human Collection to support two things: protecting human rights and remembering that we are more the same than we are different. For each 100% Human product sold, Everlane donates $5 to the ACLU.

Tom’s sneakers– By now we all know the Tom’s model but I didn’t realize how many styles they have these days. I love their kids shoes and will be trying a pair for Amalia.

Homesick candles– Buy anything through Uncommon Goods (including these popular candles) and with every purchase you make, they donate $1 to a partner of your choice. Learn more here.

Orange Lining HERO blankets– (not pictured) One blanket could provide to up $150 meals for kids in need! I teamed up with Orange Lining to create this amazing gift for kiddos.

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  1. Andrea said:

    So awesome. Thanks so much for putting that together! Just did $50 to every town, $50 to feeding America with the Starbucks match and $35 to no kid hungry – and bought a giving key for 50% off! I was seriously struggling to find some places that I felt good about so THANK YOU

    12.3.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thank you for sharing, Andrea! So happy to hear this.

      12.3.19 · Reply
  2. Libby said:

    Thank you for putting this together, Julia! I think we all need to think of some way to give back this time of year, and love that you can do it in the form of gift giving 🙂 I am going to try to volunteer more. During undergrad, I volunteered at the MN Children’s Hospital, and looked forward to going every week. I have missed doing that in the past couple of years, and want to start up again. The holidays seems like the perfect time for that!
    Also, LOVING Christmas Julia, lol

    xx Libby

    12.4.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I hope you’re able to make time for it this holiday season!

      12.5.19 · Reply