This is the season of giving, but that doesn’t always mean you have to go out and buy gifts. There are plenty of ways that you can give this time of year. Many of them won’t cost you anything but time, and you can feel good about helping others. Here are some things to consider giving this holiday season:

Your Time

Giving your time can be a great way to serve and help others. You can look around your neighborhood and see if anyone needs help. Watch someone’s children to give them a break, or help shovel snow (works even better if you have a snow blower).

You can also donate time at local charities. You can help collect items for charity drives or donate your time and services at a local food pantry or soup kitchen. Even doing something as simple as visiting the hospital or the senior home and bringing some holiday cheer can be a good way to give back.

Give Blood

Blood is almost always needed. From disasters to surgeries, blood can be used to help others recover. If there is a holiday blood drive in your area, go donate. You can help provide the gift of life and health to someone else. This is especially true if you have a rare blood type or if you are a universal donor.

Donate Stuff

You can clean out your closets and your attic and help others — all while getting a tax deduction. Take your stuff to a thrift store or donation center. You can get a tax deduction for the goods you donate to charity if they are in good, usable condition. You will need to get a receipt, though. Figure out the market value of the items you are donating so that you can tell the donation center how to fill out your receipt. You get a cleaner house and a tax deduction, and your goods can help others.

Giving Money During the Holiday Season

Of course, if you do have the money to give, cash donations are rarely turned away. You can give cash to the charity of your choice, and get a tax deduction for it (make sure you get a receipt). One of the best ways to do this is to give to local charities. That way, the money you donate can stay in the community, possibly helping those you know. You can also donate stock to charity, or set up some sort of financial endowment for the charity.

You can also give money as gifts. There is a gift tax exclusion, so you can give up to $13,000 to each person on your list. You can also consider giving financial gifts to others. These gifts can include savings accounts, 529 plans, gold or silver coins or even a gift of stock. Such gifts continue to give throughout the new year — and in years to come. It can be a great way to give back to loved ones.

No matter what you decide to do this holiday season, remember that part of the spirit is giving, and there are plenty of ways for you to give back.



Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.