Debbie Granick is a parent/childbirth educator and freelance writer. She received a Masters in Social Work and a Masters in Public Health, specializing in Maternal and Child Health, from the University of North Carolina. Her previous work includes counseling adolescents and their families in a substance abuse prevention program, teaching tobacco education and reproductive health in a school setting, and consulting with local child care staff on toddler discipline strategies.

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10 Ways For Families To Live Generously During The Holidays

Want your kids to try more holiday giving instead of just holiday receiving? Bringing seasonal cheer to others is a wonderful way to create new holiday traditions. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Write a card to a military service person. For information, log on to: or
  2. Put a new twist on donations to your local food pantry. Have fun shopping for and packaging:
    • A cookie-making kit with flour, sugar, baking soda, chocolate chips, sprinkles, cookie cut-outs.
    • A birthday box with cake mix, frosting, decorations, and candles
    • Home made trail mix. Buy a variety of nuts, dried fruits, pretzels, M&M’s, seeds and let kids mix up some healthy combinations. Your grocery store manager may donate plastic containers from the salad bar if smiling children tell her about their project.
    • The fixin’s for a holiday meal: stuffing mix, canned sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin bread mix, dessert…whatever your kids love!
  3. Adopt a family for the holidays. Contact the United Way ( and find a family that needs holiday gifts. Or visit an elderly neighbor and ask if she could use any help hanging decorations, cleaning off the porch, raking leaves…
  4. Bring holiday cheer to animals:
    • make a simple bird feeder–put bird seed in a shoe box or smear peanut butter on a pinecone and hang it on a tree
    • visit an animal shelter and play with lonely pets
    • drop off biscuits, dog food, or dog toys to a local rescue organization
  5. Stop by the firehouse or police station to drop off goodies and a big thank-you note!
  6. Deliver gently used CD’s, movies, books, magazines, games, and toys to a children’s home or hospital.
  7. Make cards and pictures and bring them to a home for the elderly. Inquire in advance if you can bring your pet. Many of them welcome furry visitors!
  8. Sort the requests for money you get in December. Let kids research the different charities and pick two favorites. Tell them you’ll match their donations! Then they can seal, stamp, and mail the envelope.
  9. Purchase school supplies and donate them to a school with a high-need population.
  10. Make a Help the World box: Cut a hole in the top of a shoe box, paint or color the outside, attach a bunch of stickers and write “The _____ Family Help the World Box.” Everyone contributes a little money every week and next year your family can make someone’s holidays a little brighter!

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