The holidays are typically a time to catch up with family members near and far and celebrate the spirit of the season together. However, not everyone is feeling the love at Christmastime. Maybe your adult children have other plans. Perhaps a disagreement has caused a major rift in the family. It could be that, sadly, you have no family, whether they have all passed away or you have lost touch over the years.
Whatever the reason, if you’re not planning on spending the holidays with family, you can use this time to be productive and even charitable. Whether you have several days or several weeks off to celebrate the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, you can use this time to improve yourself or help those in need.
No big plans this holiday season? Here are 10 ways to make a difference in your life, whether you feel introverted and want to escape from the outside world or you feel social and want give to those less fortunate.
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We all live busy lives. Even if we don’t have a family to dote on, we still fill our lives with full-time work, errands, hobbies and perhaps even community service. It’s always good to have some time for ourselves. The holidays is the perfect time to recharge and engage in healthier, more productive habits.
Engage in an activity you’ve wanted to do for quite some time. This doesn’t have to be anything major, like skydiving or traveling to another country. This can be something as simple as reading a book, working on a craft project or even catching up on your favorite TV show.
Use the mornings to your advantage. While the holidays are the perfect time to catch up on much-needed sleep, resist the urge to get up at noon. Instead, use the morning hours to get things done. Sweep the floors, wash the cars, catch up on laundry, do whatever else needs to be done first thing in the morning. The longer you wait, the more likely you are to procrastinate. Plus, you’ll have your afternoons and evenings free to do whatever you please.
Get organized. Have a pile of mail that you need to go through? Have unused items collected dust? The holidays are a great time to declutter your life. Go through your house and get rid of anything you no longer use. You can hold a garage sale or better yet, donate it to charity – you’ll be productive and charitable.
Cut back on email/Internet usage. When we have nothing else to do, it’s easy to go online and spend all day clicking on websites. Don’t fall into this trap. Keep the computer turned off so you won’t be tempted. If you must check emails or do something online, hold off until you’ve done everything on your to-do list. After all, it’s the holidays. Nobody is expecting you to respond to emails all day long.
Exercise. Sure, the holidays is a time to relax, but you also want to stay healthy. Many people gain weight around the holidays because of all the food they’re eating. Keep weight gain at bay by staying active. Go for a walk, spend an hour at the gym or watch an exercise video. You’ll feel more energized.
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The holidays are the perfect time to give back to others. Many people can’t afford a decent Christmas, and they are thousands of kids who would love to get a toy during the holidays. Here are some ways you can help out.
Donate to a food bank. Every community has people who are poor or homeless. Food banks serve these people in need through donations of cash and food. Contact your local food bank to see how you can help. While most food banks meat and canned food, each food bank has different needs. Click here to find a food bank near you.
Volunteer. If you’re short on cash, there are many opportunities to donate your time during the holidays. Homeless shelters can use your help preparing meals and serving food to those in need. To find one near you, click here.
Donate used clothing. Clothing donations – especially jackets, sweaters and other cold weather gear – are much appreciated this time of year. Go through your closets and look for clothing that you no longer wear. Get everything together and donate it to Goodwill or a local thrift store. You won’t receive any money for your donation, but you can use it as a tax deduction. Plus, you’ll feel good knowing that helped those in need.
Send cards and packages to military personnel. Those who serve in the military make the ultimate sacrifice as they risk their lives to protect our rights as Americans. Show them how much they matter by sending them Christmas cards. The Holidays for Heroes program delivers Christmas cards to those in the Armed Forces on active duty, as well as veterans who have already spent many years serving our country. The holidays can be a difficult time of year for those who are on active duty and can’t be with their families, so receiving a card from you would certainly brighten their Christmas. This is a low-cost way to give back.
Sponsor a family. If you don’t have your own family, and money isn’t an issue, you can sponsor a family for the holidays. Your church or other organization in the area can connect you with a local needy family. You can get details about this family and buy them presents such as clothing, food, school supplies and other necessities. The children would also enjoy a toy or two. This is a generous way to help a struggling family get through the holidays while bringing joy to children who would otherwise not have much of a Christmas.
Just because you have no holiday plans with family doesn’t mean you have to be a Grinch this Christmas. There are many things you can do with your free time this holiday season. Try some of these ways to boost your productivity and charity this year – who knows, maybe you’ll start your own Christmas tradition.