by: Alyson Komyanek
Did the holiday season sneak up on you again this year, too? It seems like it comes quicker and quicker each year and with it comes all those commercials with the homeless animals in their little cages while that Sarah McLaughlin song plays in the background. Each year I find myself wanting to help those little pups and the little hungry kiddos from the Alyssa Milano commercial and, also the little patients from those “Thanks and Giving” ads, but my bank account doesn’t feel the same. So, instead of helping financially, I give in other ways. Here’s how us budgeters can still help out, since it is the season of giving…
Give your time— It could be 1 hour or 5 hours, but there are lots of places that need our help this time of year. My friend recently donated a few hours of her time by cooking dinner for families at the Ronald McDonald House. All that was required of her was a good recipe, a smile (and she has a great one) and three hours of her day. It was a simple and kind gesture that I’m sure was greatly appreciated by the families there.
Give your talent – Are you an artist? I’m not, but I know someone who is and she spent months making beautiful, homemade holiday cards for our troops. One day, she bundled them all up and shipped them overseas. Those cards were beautiful and I’m sure brightened the holidays for those brave men and women. Today, I heard about a professional photographer who spends her weekends photographing shelter pups. She takes them out to a local park and gets shots of them playing ball, running, jumping and all the other cute stuff dogs do. It helps them get adopted quicker. This is the perfect time to put our talents to good use, so let’s go out there and be talented!
Open your door – Not to strangers…I’d never recommend that, but we can help our friends out. If you know someone who can’t make it home for the holidays or (even sadder!) doesn’t have anywhere to go, invite them to spend the holidays with you! Christmas is about family, but it’s also about being nice and helping others. I couldn’t handle knowing that while I’m eating my Dad’s prime rib and mashed potatoes, my friend is sitting home alone watching 24 hours of a Christmas Story on TBS. Ask them to come along and share in your family’s celebrations. It’s a small gesture for you, with big meaning to them.
And finally, if you do find yourself having a little extra cash this year (thanks to all my GENIUS advice of course), I suggest giving it wisely on a charity of your choice. I recently did this by being a “Secret Santa” for Woods, an organization that helps individuals of all ages with special needs and challenges. I received a “Santa’s Wish List” from two of their clients. Client number 1 asked for Hershey Kisses and a rubber snake. Client number 2? She wanted hair clips and nail polish. I couldn’t have been happier to spend my hard earned and well-saved cash fulfilling these two Christmas wishes. I’d rather buy rubber snakes and nail polish for special needs individuals, than on the iPads and cell phones the neighborhood kids are always asking for.
Get out there and get giving!