Tis’ the season to be overwhelmed…I mean jolly 😉 but amidst the busyness of it all, nothing feels as good or perspective setting as giving back. So, in the last few years, I’ve made sure we’re more intentional with our time to create space to do some good and spread some light. We’ve got so many fun and festive things lined up for our gang this year (like our annual visit to the tree farm, our local Santa Claus parade, and lots of family gatherings), but giving back in our community among the hustle and bustle of the season is so important to us too.
In fact, not just over the holidays, but the whole year through, we’ve been so inspired by our partner Local Love to build good-will into our everyday lifestyle, in simple yet meaningful ways that our whole family can be a part of. Raising our kids to live a spirit of generosity and kindness is top of the parenting priority charts for us, so getting more involved in projects that make an impact on the lives of others was part of our family vision board this year. This partnership with Local Love has helped us meet this family goal and feel so good doing so.
Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and Local Love and have received compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.
Here are some of the ways we’re giving back this season, including some old traditions and new ones inspired by ideas we came across in The Good News Letter we receive every month!
1) The Food Bank Holiday Drive – the thought of any family not having a warm meal to enjoy over the holidays is heart-breaking, so just like other times of year, we’ll be prepping our food bags with the kids after a grocery shop to make a donation during this year’s holiday food drive. So easy to pop the donation right in a grocery store collector bin or at your local fire hall.
2) Toy/Clothing Donation – Every child deserves the magic and wonder of opening a special toy on Christmas morning. While so many fun things make their way under our tree each year for the kids, they don’t always get opened or played with so donating to our local toy donation drives is a simple, yet great way to spread some cheer and fulfill the wish list of deserving kids in York Region & Toronto through the Salvation Army & Toy Mountain drive.
Thanks to a friend who’s hosting a Holidays With Heart Charity event this year, we’ll also be prepping a bag of new and gently used clothing/baby essentials for Toronto’s Welcoming Arms project that helps marginalized families have all the basic necessities at hand when welcoming a newborn – beautiful.
3) Gifts that Give Back/Support Local – while our family gift list is small, adding in teachers, coaches, service providers, etc. can make it feel overwhelming, but I find giving gifts that make an impact on the lives of others makes it less so. We love supporting local shops and businesses that build goodwill into their business models with proceeds from some purchases going to incredible local initiatives. Some of our favourite local shops with heart are in our Holiday GIVE Guide, and others we love are found at our local Christmas markets, like Country Christmas Market by YorkMakers.ca and the Toronto Christmas Market
4) Dining Out, While Doing Good – we don’t dine out that often with all kids in tow, and date nights are still few and far between these days, but with the holiday crunch, more time enjoying each other’s company and less time slaving over an oven is definitely a part of the holiday plans 😊 I loved learning about Mealshare this year where partner restaurants in our City of Toronto offer a menu item, that if ordered while you dine, one meal is donated to youth in need thereafter (Buy 1, give 1). Terroni and Pizzeria Libretto are two of our fave restaurants that participate.
5) Festive Fun Supporting Local Initiatives – there are so many amazing activities for families this time of year, but attending those that also support local initiatives give us all the warm and fuzzies. One tradition we started last year is attending the Family Festival at Toronto’s Soul Pepper Theatre – a non-profit venue that supports local artists and provides educational programs in the arts for youth. Tip: Your ticket to the show also includes admission to the Toronto Christmas Market (two local initiatives in one!)
6) Stocking Stuffing – we love the local Welcoming Arms initiative this time of year our family participates in through our boys’ hockey teams. Each year, families are assigned an age/gender and find fun, practical and useful items to fill up a stocking to gift to marginalized individuals in our community to show some love and lift their spirits. It’s a great way to get the kids involved in acts of service, takes no longer than 10 minutes to pick some special things together during a shopping trip we have to do already, and the kids love filling the stockings up afterward.
7) Random Acts of Kindness – giving back doesn’t always have to cost something. Sending a “just because” text, note or card telling someone what they mean to us, handing over a paid-for parking voucher with time left on it to the guy that just pulled up to the pay booth, shoveling our neighbour’s driveway, helping our friends at school with something challenging, making a meal or sending groceries to loved ones going through a tough time, smiling at a stranger while we shop are all ways we like to spread a little light this time of year and beyond. Showing our kids how to extend kindness is probably one of the greatest “gifts” we can give them and well the world needs more of that good stuff.
I know we all have traditions and good deeds we love to partake in this most wonderful time of year, but if you’re looking for some new inspo on simple, yet meaningful ways to get your gang in the do-good spirit, you should definitely check out Local Love’s weekly “The Good News Letter”, where you can get a super short and sweet round up of inspiring stories, learnings and things to try in your community. Not just another email to clog your over-stuffed inbox, this one will give you a dose of good vibes we all need to make our spirits bright this season, and the whole year through!
Also, check out Local Love’s Social Channels:
How are you and your family giving back to your communities this holiday season? We’d love to know!
Love & light,