It’s December. I’m sure all of my readers are aware that it’s the holiday season. Christmas is upon us. Lights aglow from the houses in the neighborhood, decorations hang from street lamps in town, Christmas music blares from the speakers everywhere you go to shop, the lines at the post office are abundant. You’re probably prepping for holiday parties at work or with friends, or trying to get ready for family company to come visit. Maybe you have kids and they’ve been writing letters to Santa and you’re scrambling to check things off those lists. Maybe you’re in a relationship and you feel pressured to get your significant other “the perfect gift.” Maybe you just want to give your friends something for Christmas because you feel like it’s expected, and the way to show them how much you care. Or maybe you fall in that boat of obligatory gift-giving, feeling like you should return the “favor” because someone else gave you a present? All this hustle and bustle can really take away focus from what’s important about Christmas time. It may even be stress inducing enough that you’re just wishing for it to be over already. But why…so much spending? Sometimes we do find really thoughtful gifts for people and they do feel like you picked it out specially for them, but a lot of times money just gets forked over at the store in a rush as you grab something to cross that person off your list. So, this holiday season I challenge you to do something different. Stop and think about what you’re doing. Does your friend really need another bath gel basket, does that coworker need desk organizer? Quit spending money and junk and give to something that matters. Whether that means giving your time – (volunteer somewhere, offer to serve in a soup kitchen, babysit, help at a tutoring center, etc. just contribute somewhere that your time spent will benefit someone else) or giving from your wallet. There are plenty of charities to give to – is there a cause or organization close to your heart? Maybe a family member or close friend has been directly affected by an illness? Consider donating to an organization like ones that research a cure, or assist families with people suffering from these ailments (ones like the Dear Jack Foundation, American Cancer Society, Children’s Miracle Network or Ronald McDonald House. Shoot, you could register for the national bone marrow donor program at Be The Match. Look into Consider giving to children less fortunate in your community. I’m sure you’ve seen angels on Christmas trees out in places in your community. Or you could donate non-perishable food items to a local food pantry, or to an organization in your town like Blessings in a Backpack that helps kids from low-income families stay fed! Maybe a friend or someone in your community needs support for their own journey to go out and help others. (I have a friend in PT school that’s gearing up to do a missions trip in the Dominican Republic. Our church supports a group that’s made a community center for kids in Colombia. I know a couple planning to start an orphanage in Haiti.) Remember when I featured the awesome organization of Hello Somebody? As winter approaches, it’s getting colder all around (even in Florida) think about donating some items to a clothes closet that will help outfit those in need. Shelters can always use items like toilet paper, towels, blankets, beanies socks, toothbrushes, combs, and general hygiene items. There are some really cool organizations like Heifer International out there that you can give money to that will go to do things like give a family a cow, or a flock of chicks – this helps because they can farm with the animals, use and sell their products (like milk or eggs,) and it helps them to be self-sufficient. You can donate to organizations that do things like empowering women in developing countries which support women’s ability to be independent. There are SO many different organizations like this, as well as all the one-for-one organizations where when you purchase an item, one is given to someone in need. (Think TOMs shoes, or Warby Parker eyeglasses, or Out of Print.) A cool thing about one-for-one is when someone asks you about what you’re wearing, or using you can tell them about the organization and it spreads by word of mouth, and you might inspire the person you gave the gift to, to give one to someone else! Over the coming days I’d love to spotlight some of these different organizations, and for you to honestly consider participating in more meaningful giving this Christmas. You’ll feel a lot less guilty about your spending this season when you know you’re helping someone else!