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5 Fun Holiday Activities that Give Back

Carol Walton profile image

Carol Walton

winter hat, mitten, and holiday lights
Illustration by Marian Blair

Are you looking for out-of-the-box ways to have fun while helping others this holiday season? Below are some merry things you can do with loved ones to spread holiday cheer.

Deck the halls!

Do holiday lights bring you instantaneous joy? You can share that joy and bring pizzazz to a local charity or community center by volunteering to put up holiday decorations. Reach out to local organizations and charities to see if they have a volunteer decorating committee you can join. Do you live near an elderly neighbor or a person with disabilities who lives independently? Offer to help them with their holiday decorating, including putting up decorations and helping to help take them down after the holidays. 

The art of wrapping

Receiving a beautifully wrapped gift can make a person feel extra special. The intentionality that goes into presenting a nicely wrapped gift can demonstrate the gifter’s love and care for the giftee. Exquisitely wrapped gifts also add a festive flair to holiday decorations. If you have a special knack for wrapping and decorating gifts, volunteer to wrap gifts at a local charity. Some organizations host one-day gift-wrapping events or may ask for additional help sorting and distributing the wrapped gifts. 

Get crafty

With the holiday season comes the cold days of winter in many parts of the world. If you have a talent for crocheting or knitting items such as snug hats, scarves, gloves, sweaters, or blankets, bring the gift of warmth to someone in your area. Reach out to local charities to inquire if they are in need of knitted winter items for families or individuals in need. Some organizations seek volunteers to craft selected seasonal items or may have ongoing knitting groups throughout the year. You can also form your own group of fellow knitters or crocheters to join you

Serve a warm meal

During the holiday season, many organizations seek volunteers to serve meals or donate non-perishable food items to families in need. Gather friends and family to join you in serving a hot meal to families in your area. Look for local opportunities and agree on a day and time when everyone can participate. Want to donate food instead? Host a holiday food drive in your neighborhood or donate food items individually. Be sure to contact the local food bank or organization of your choice to inquire about their donation process and to see what nonperishable food items they need.

A little glitter goes a long way

Another creative activity is holiday card-making. Joyful homemade cards can bring a smile to many faces, especially people in your area who may be alone for the holidays. Making a homemade holiday card can be as simple or elaborate as you like! Feel free to use supplies such as construction paper, card stock, markers, crayons, pipe cleaners, or glitter. Some organizations seek volunteers during this time to make holiday cards for the individuals and families they serve, with card recipients ranging from troops serving overseas to hospice patients. Seek out an opportunity in your area to bring holiday inspiration this season.


Check out other great holiday tips in our Ideas for Action blog, such as how to host a holiday toy or clothing drive.

Carol Walton profile image

Carol Walton

As Program Manager of the Idealist Action Incubator, Carol offers guidance and support to our community of action-takers.