Give Back, Feel Good: A Guide to Meaningful Gift Giving

If you are in the midst of gift shopping, you may have mixed emotions about it like many of us, including stress, anxiety, or feelings of pressure to find the best "deals." Following a shopping-filled Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it's not uncommon to feel burnt out on spending without getting that expected 'feel-good' rush. But what if the key to that coveted rush lies in a different kind of gift?

In the spirit of Giving Tuesday, dedicated to acts of generosity, this blog will inspire you to redefine your gift-giving strategy, encouraging you to slow down (rather than quickly stocking up on items you or your loved ones may not need or even want!) and find holiday satisfaction in another way: by making a positive impact on your community.

In addition, the tips below may even contribute to your long-term health and happiness. According to a contributor from Psychology Today, “There appears to be a direct correlation with overall well-being and giving our time, money, or other resources to a cause that we are passionate about. Studies suggest that people who volunteer report better health and more happiness than people who do not volunteer.”

So, if you're ready to step back from spending and rethink your strategy for gift-giving in the holidays to come, keep reading!

1. The Gift of Warmth: Donate Winter Must-Haves

Canadian winters are notorious for their harsh conditions. Help those in need stay warm by digging into your closet and donating gently used warm clothing. Warm winter coats are especially crucial. Consider contributing to charities supporting refugees or donating to homeless shelters. 

2. The Gift of Time: Volunteer at Your Favorite Charity

Time is one of the most valuable gifts out there. Charities are bustling during the holiday season, and your time and talent could make a significant difference. Whether your passion lies in ending homelessness, improving mental health, or advancing healthcare, find a way to volunteer directly. Get your boots on the ground and lend a helping hand where it's needed most. Check out local community services websites like 211 if you’re not sure where to start!

3. The Gift of Sustenance: Donate to Your Local Food Bank

Food banks are in greater need than ever. Clean out your cupboards and donate non-perishable to your local food bank. Alternatively, make a monetary donation to a food bank or food program, supporting their efforts to serve an increasing number of Canadians in need. Markham Food Bank is a great local option where you can donate or volunteer! 

4. The Gift of Community: Organize a Food Drive

For anyone who likes to organize, bring people together for a good cause, sound the alarm and rally their friends, this one if for you! Bring your community together by organizing a food drive. Collaborate with local businesses, schools, and community centers to set up collection points for non-perishable food items. You could also work with creatives on flyers, and put postcards in the mail to spread awareness. Then, sit back and watch the donations roll in and distribute the collected items to local food banks or shelters.

5. The Gift of Celebration: Host a Charity Event or Fundraiser

Another one for those who love to plan, plan, plan! Spread the spirit of giving by organizing and hosting a festive charity event. Whether it's a holiday market, bake sale, or (winter!) road race, you can engage the community in raising funds utilizing the talents, passions, and skills of community members. Funds raised can be given to a local cause or organization, turning celebration into a powerful force for positive change.

6. The Gift of Creativity: Decorate Public Spaces

Transform public spaces into festive havens by organizing a community decoration project. Why not? Engage local artists and school groups to contribute, or perhaps engage local businesses would like to participate in a window-decorating contest, for example. Other places to consider might be parks, community centres, or seniors centres. Seeing the community enjoy these free public spaces in a new light might be all the reward you need this season.

7. The Gift of Imagination: Donate New Toys and Books for Children

It can be as easy as adding a few extra toys and books to your shopping list this year, if you can keep it in your budget. Many faith-based organizations seek donations of new toys and books for children. Or check with your favorite charity to see if they are accepting donations in your area. 

8. The Gift of Sustainability: DIY Workshop for Sustainable Gift Wrapping

Give back to the environment this season! Host a an eco-friendly gift wrapping party to use creative gift-wrapping techniques using recycled materials. Encourage friends and family members to bring their own creative wrapping materials, or provide them with recycled materials to use. This will not only save your wallet from the costs of wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows, it will promote the value of sustainability.

9. The Gift of Kindness: Acts of Kindness

Research tells us that our interactions with strangers play into our mental well-being just as much as our family relationships. With this in mind, we can be intentional in thinking about incorporating small acts of kindness into our day-to-day. For example, why not pay for a stranger's coffee at the drive-thru, leave a special treat for delivery workers, bake cookies for your new neighbours that you’re still getting to know. No matter what you choose, these small gestures create a ripple effect of kindness.

9. The Gift of Libraries: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Are you passionate about your local library? Giving a library card to someone who might not already have one – can open up a world of possibilities and opportunities for life-long learning and connection. When you give a Markham Public Library Card to your friend or family member, you know you will be gifting them a place of community, endless resources and learning, connection, and passions – all for free to experience at any of our 8 branches or from home. You never know what this gift might mean to someone, or how it might inspire them in ways that change their life for the better. Stop by any Markham Public Library Branch to learn more and explore everything the Library has to offer your friends and family.

Whether you’re looking to save money, reduce hassle, instill new traditions or habits, or just plain feel good and give back to others this year, you have the power to redefine your idea of gift-giving.

So go forth, and experience the true joy of giving!