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Make Giving a Part of Your New Year’s Resolutions

Ah, New Year’s Eve. Every year, this day brings with it a sense of excitement, anticipation and hope as we look forward to the upcoming year. Suddenly, everything that happened in 2018—the things we did or didn’t do, did or didn’t say—doesn’t seem to matter as much. Instead, we can look ahead and clearly see 2019 laid out before us, untarnished and ready for our next adventures in life.

Of course, with New Year’s Eve come New Year’s resolutions. These resolutions symbolize the things we care about most in life, and reflect the areas of life we want to improve. Whether it be weight loss, reading more or simply trying something new, resolutions often mark what matters most to us. Which means, if you want to make a difference in 2019, make giving a part of your New Year’s resolutions. Here are some ideas for how you can create resolutions that give back.

Get your family on board.
One simple way to make giving a part of your New Year’s resolutions is to get your family on board. Altruism is an incredibly important value to instill in young children. As you make plans for 2019, consider how you and your family can serve the community together.

Share on social media. 
With today’s technology, social media often plays a critical role in the success of various fundraising and awareness efforts. This year, see how you can support organizations around the world simply by sharing, tweeting, pinning or posting.

Give blood.
No matter who you are, we all have something we can give: blood. If you’re eligible, make a commitment to donate blood consistently in 2019. Whether you give to a community blood bank or a national chain, you can feel confident in your efforts to support—and save—another’s life.

Mentor a child.
Speaking of support, you can many times find children in need of support in the community. One way you can support a child in 2019 is by volunteering to be a mentor. Give a child the gift of someone who loves, encourages and supports them this year to have an impact on their life.

Pay it forward.
For a simple way to have a huge effect this upcoming year, pay it forward. Commit to taking small acts of kindness whenever you possibly can. For example, pay for a person’s coffee, leave a caring note or donate used goods. However you pay it forward, keep the message of positivity moving in 2019.

Volunteer consistently.
If you want something to really commit to doing next year, then consider volunteering consistently. Local and national nonprofit organizations are constantly looking for new people to get involved with their cause. Join in as a regular volunteer they can rely on.

Commit to donating.
Finally, make a difference in 2019 by finding a cause you care about and committing to donating regularly. While one-time donations are definitely celebrated, regular donations can have a huge impact all-year round. Find a monthly amount you feel comfortable with and commit to giving.

With 2019 upon us, the New Year’s resolutions will soon start rolling in. If you want to have an even-greater impact this upcoming year, make giving a part of your resolutions. Try out some of these ideas, or come up with your own to give back and make a valuable contribution to the life of a fellow human being in 2019.

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6 Ways to Brighten Someone Else’s Christmas

Merry Christmas Eve! If you celebrate Christmas, then chances are you’re spending today wrapped in a warm blanket, curled up by the fire and sipping hot chocolate with loved ones. You may have spent the last weekend ice skating, baking cookies or opening up a present or two. But, what have you done for someone else this Christmas?

While the holiday season is a joyful time for many, it can also be a difficult time for others. If you live an altruistic lifestyle, you can give back and make someone’s holiday a bit more joyful. Here are six ways you can brighten someone else’s Christmas.

1. Call your loved ones.
One simple way to brighten another’s Christmas is by calling. Some of your loved ones might live far away, have different plans or not be able to see you during the holiday season. Particularly for older family with limited mobility, this can be difficult. However, you can brighten their day by simply giving them a call and checking in. A few quick words of encouragement and affirmation can make a world of difference this Christmas.

2. Make Christmas dinner.
Food is always the perfect way into someone’s heart, especially through Christmas dinner. You can spread the love and brighten someone’s day this Christmas by making a little bit extra of dinner to share. For people who may not be able to cook for themselves or can’t afford to buy the ingredients, this can truly be the greatest gift of all.

3. Invite someone over.
It’s often been said that the holidays are the loneliest time of the year. Unfortunately, lots of people find themselves alone during Christmas for a variety of reasons. Instead, bring extra joy this year by inviting someone into your home. Share food, time and conversation with them to show how much they are loved and valued this holiday season.

4. Donate a gift.
Many individuals, families and children cannot afford gifts during the Christmas season. If you find yourself with a little bit of extra income, time or gifts this week, consider donating extra presents to a family in need. Whether you give gently-used goods, or buy a brand new toy off the shelf, you can definitely brighten someone else’s day—particularly a child’s.

5. Volunteer in the morning.
We get it: Christmas is a time to spend with your loved ones, which makes volunteering a tough request. But, why not consider volunteering Christmas morning? After you open presents with family, create a new tradition by volunteering at your local shelter or nonprofit organization. A simple hour or two of your time can have a huge impact on someone’s day. Afterwards, you will still have plenty of Christmas left to spend together eating, talking and celebrating. 

6. Have a conversation.
Ultimately, one of the most valuable gifts you can give this Christmas season is your time. Have a deep, intimate conversation with a loved one, neighbor or even a complete stranger, to share in the spirit of the season. While some people might feel alone or hurt during the holidays, you can share joy by listening to their stories and speaking affirmation into their lives.

Christmas is a wonderful time to spend together with family, friends and loved ones. However, it’s also an opportunity to give back. If you want to brighten someone else’s Christmas this year, keep these tips in mind to spread the holiday cheer.

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How to Decrease Stress During the Holidays

What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Maybe it’s baking cookies together as a family, knitting your own stocking or opening up one present early. No matter what your favorite traditions might be, there’s probably one holiday tradition we could all stand to lose: stress. Between shopping, wrapping, cleaning and cooking, the holidays can be a very stressful time for everyone involved. 

Fortunately, if you want to live a more positive, healthy and altruistic lifestyle, there are ways you can combat the influx of stress during the holiday season. As you prepare for all of the gifts, parties and dinners headed your way this season, here are some ideas for how to decrease stress during the holidays.

1. Lower your standards.
One of the simplest ways to decrease your stress levels during the holiday season is to simply lower your standards. Oftentimes when we head into big events, we have huge, unrealistic expectations for them. We envision all of the decorations to be beautiful, the food to be delicious, the house to be clean and for everyone to suddenly get along perfectly. Unfortunately, this is rarely the truth. Instead, lower your standards before heading into the holidays with a little bit of reality. Things won’t be perfect, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be good.

2. Don’t sweat the little stuff.
Once you’ve lowered your standards, keep in mind not to sweat the little stuff. The most important part of the holidays is spending time with loved ones. Everything else is nice, but not necessary. Which means if your kitchen is a little messy, someone’s present isn’t wrapped perfectly or people are late to the party, don’t worry. As long as you have valuable time with family and friends, everything will come together in the end. 

3. Delegate responsibilities.
Part of the stress we feel during the holiday season is because we try to do everything by ourselves. We pick out gifts, wrap presents, send holiday cards, decorate the tree, clean up, cook, etc… the list goes on and on. No wonder by the end of it all we feel like pulling our hair out! Instead, take this season as an opportunity to delegate responsibilities. Ask your spouse to handle parts of the planning, ask your in-laws to coordinate another part and even give your children responsibility. The more you can delegate all of the work, the less stressed you will feel.

4. Reduce optional events.
The holidays are an exceptional time for events. It seems like everywhere you look someone new is having a party, hosting a gift exchange or starting an activity. While it can be tempting to dive deep into the winter wonderland of events, these often over-crowd our schedules and leave us feeling overwhelmed and stressed, rather than cheerful and jolly. Don’t be afraid to reduce the number of optional events in your calendar this year. Which means: if you do not absolutely have to attend something, then consider not going. While it might be tough to say no, you will feel much more relaxed in the end.

5. Take time to relax.
Speaking of relaxed, take time to relax this holiday season. Between everything you have to do and everything going on, there’s hardly any time to simply sit and enjoy the winter quiet. Instead, be intentional about blocking out time for you to be alone and relax. Maybe you wake up a few minutes early so you can read a good book. Or perhaps you stay up a little bit later so you can enjoy a luxurious bubble bath. However you choose to relax, be intentional about setting aside time this holiday season to relieve stress.

The holidays are an incredibly stressful time, but they don’t have to be. Instead, keep these tips in mind as you head into the season, so you can relax and truly enjoy your time with loved ones. Decrease your stress and embrace holidays filled with love, joy and most importantly, peace.

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5 Gift Ideas that Give Back this Holiday Season

Happy holidays! ‘Tis the season of giving, which means people everywhere are lining up in stores and online to pick out the perfect presents for their loved ones. Whether you choose to go with the latest technology, the coziest sweater or a heartfelt homemade gift, this season is filled with presents galore for people young and old.

Unfortunately, the holiday season can also be a very challenging time for some. Whether a person can’t afford to give gifts or has no one to celebrate with, the holidays can often be lonely and even burdensome. For those of us who are able to give more, this is the perfect opportunity to get involved in your community and help spread the holiday cheer this season. To get you started, here are five gift ideas that give back this holiday season.

1. Buy from a one-for-one company.
If you plan on buying a specific present for your loved one this holiday season, consider buying from a one-for-one company. With the one-for-one model, whenever you buy an item from the company, it will also donate an item to someone in need—essentially doubling your buying power. Not only can you give the perfect gift to your loved one, but you can also give a gift to someone else in the world. Companies such as TOMS, Bombas, SoapBox, Better World Books and more offer great gift options for you and give back to local, national or international programs for people in need.  

2. Choose handcrafted presents.
For the loved one who wants something a little bit more unique or creative, choose a handcrafted present from local, national or international artisans. Fair trade businesses believe that the products we buy and sell are connected to the livelihoods of others. Because of this, when you buy fair trade goods created by a local artisan, you support responsible companies and empower workers from all around the world. These handcrafted presents are a great idea to give this holiday season. Not only are they unique and special, but they genuinely support the livelihood of your fellow human beings.

3. Donate in someone’s name.
Did you know you can give to an organization in someone else’s name? That’s right! If you have a loved one who is passionate about a specific charity or cause, consider giving to the organization under their name. Whether you choose local, national or international, you can tell your friend or family that what matters to them also matters to you by donating to the nonprofit’s efforts. Give the gift of charitable giving this holiday season by showing your support for a loved one’s passion through giving back to a charitable organization.

4. Give a gift to a shelter.
This season, families—and children—all across the United States will find themselves without a home, food or presents to enjoy for the holidays. If you want to give a gift that gives back, consider donating to a local shelter in your community. As the weather cools down, shelters often find themselves stretched at the seams in need of resources. To help out, try donating a gift or two. Whether you choose to give food, winter clothing or a toy for a child, you can brighten someone’s holiday season.

5. Invite someone into your home.
Finally, the holidays aren’t only a time of giving, but also a time of community. They’re the perfect occasion to invite people into your home and offer them food, warmth and a loving smile. If you know someone in your neighborhood who has nowhere to go this season and no one to celebrate with, consider taking the extra step to invite them into your home. A simple gesture like this can bring the community together, show how you care and make someone else feel genuinely loved during the holidays.

As we prepare for the holidays, it’s easy to focus on the presents you plan to give and receive. However, if you want to live a more altruistic lifestyle, take the time this year to consider how you can give back during the season of giving. Start with these ideas as you give back this season to help spread holiday cheer.

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Celebrate National Write a Friend Month

Happy December! This month marks a time filled with cold weather, warm fires and of course, gifts galore. As some might say, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” complete with family and friends coming together and celebrating the holiday season. 

Not only is December a cold season with warm greetings, but it’s also known as National Write a Friend Month. National Write a Friend Month is an entire month specifically designated for us take time to write a note for a friend. In a month filled with gifts for others, this is a great time to actually share your words with loved ones—tell them what they mean to you and why. If you want to join in and celebrate National Write a Friend Month during this wonderful winter season, here are a couple writing ideas to get you started.

Buy new stationery.
First and foremost, prepare to celebrate National Write a Friend Month by buying new stationery. Stock up on your favorite cards, envelopes and pens to send creative notes and letters to your loved ones. If you really feel imaginative, you can even choose stickers, or include a personalized return address label for the envelopes. Sometimes, the simplest things in life are the most satisfying, and buying new stationery is one of them.

Send a holiday card.
Once you have your new stationery ready to go, use this season as an opportunity to send a holiday card. Make your list of close friends and family to send the cards to and brighten the cold winter month. Include a picture of you or your loved ones, a little life update and a return address for them to send their own holiday cards. If you can, make things even more personal with a handwritten note for recipients to feel extra special.

Write to a loved one.
This Write a Friend Month, make the holidays even more remarkable for your loved ones by sitting down to write a handwritten letter to them. With technology nowadays, handwritten letters sent via snail mail are few and far between, but they have incredible power to brighten someone’s day. Everyone appreciates a personalized note that surprises them in the mail. Send a little extra holiday cheer this season by writing to a loved one.

Share with a stranger.
After writing to your loved ones, consider sharing with a stranger this holiday season. During the cold months, many people in need can feel lonely and left out of the winter cheer. Give them encouragement during a challenging time by writing a letter or note to a stranger. For instance, write a letter to a military member and thank them for their service through programs like Operation Gratitude. Not only can you get involved, but you can also send the gift of joy.

Find a pen pal.
Finally, consider finding a program for pen pals to join in. Whether for children or adults, pen pal programs are a great way for complete strangers to get to know each other and build a friendship across boundaries. Check for available pen pal programs in your community, or search online for national and international options. Not only can you have a cheerful holiday season writing, but you can continue the friendship for months to come.

The month of December is known for many things, including National Write a Friend Month. This season, celebrate the holidays with a day in the snow, sit by a fire and drink hot chocolate. And of course, don’t forget to take the time to write to friends, family and complete strangers. Spread the gift of cheer through writing as we finish out the year with the season of joy.