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Aging & Society

Get Into the Holiday Spirit with 12 Days of Doing

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It’s so easy to feel like you’re just dialing in the holidays and coasting through.

You can buy the annual cards online, shop for gifts digitally, order a turkey and all the trimmings with the touch of a button and make it through November and December without ever even wrapping a gift. Don’t get us wrong—we love the convenience. But we also find it’s easier than ever to lose sight of what the holidays are really about (hint: it’s not the latest video game or coolest drone). To help you get in the mindset of merriment, we’ve created a list for Days of Doing, that offers fun suggestions to keep you connected and inspired this season and beyond.  

  1. Spend an afternoon helping others. With devastating earthquakes, fires, flooding and hurricanes, this year has been a doozy, and it’s made us feel incredibly grateful for our friends, our family, our health, our safety and our security. Not everyone has been so lucky. Choose a non-profit that’s meaningful to you and ask what they need. Let your friends and family know and help spread the love.
  2. Shop local. Independently owned businesses are the heart of every town. Show them some love and do your holiday shopping in your own backyard. That way, you can help keep your cash where it’s needed most—in your own community. Bonus: You might even run into some friends and neighbors while you’re there.
  3. Host a card party and thank a hero. Day in and day out, the men and women in our armed services make sacrifices to serve our country, often spending the holidays far away from home. Want to thank them? There are a number of non-profits that collect cards and care packages to our troops. Spread the love by inviting friends over to get crafty together.
  4. In lieu of gifts, select a non-profit for donations. Do you really need that new tie or pair of socks? This year, choose a charity for friends and family to donate to in lieu of giving you gifts. If you’re hosting a holiday party, that’s also a great excuse to gather donations.  
  5. Pay it forward. Next time you’re at a drive-thru or coffee shop, hand over a few extra dollars and offer to pay for the next customer’s purchase. It’s a small gesture that could make someone’s day.
  6. Phone a friend. We’re all so preoccupied with texting and email these days, it’s easy to forget how touching it is to have a real, live conversation. Call someone you’ve been thinking about and catch up.
  7. Host a movie marathon. Nothing gets the yuletide spirit going like a good movie. Invite the family over, pile on the blankets, pop some popcorn and settle in for your own holiday viewing. If you have grandkids, offer to host them and give their parents a night out.  
  8. Start a gratitude journal. Once a week, put an appointment on your calendar and spend 30 minutes writing in your journal about the things, the people, the conversations, the observations that you’re grateful for. While you’re doing it, enjoy something you love, like your favorite coffee or tea, and turn it into a ritual you’ll look forward to. Encourage family members to do the same thing.
  9. Make a meal—or even just muffins—for a friend or family. Small gestures can make an enormous impact. Think of someone in your life who’s been especially helpful or meaningful to you this year. Bake them an unexpected treat, and let them know how sweet you think they are.
  10. Shop smart and with a heart. When you’re out shopping, keep your eyes peeled for buy-one-get-one-free deals. You can donate the bonus gift to charity or give it to someone you know and brighten their day.
  11. Unplug for a day (or an entire weekend). That’s right, we said it. No TVs, no tablets, no laptops, no phones. Just you and the family, connecting for a whole day. What will you do? Whatever you want, as long as it’s centered around people, not technology!
  12. Make a commitment to keep giving throughout the year. Non-profits are deluged with donations and volunteers around the holidays. And that’s great news! But their needs don’t start and stop. Consider ways that your talents could be put to use year-round. Is it reading to kids? Volunteering as a business consultant? Fostering a pet? Find your gift that can make a difference, and commit to make it keep on giving.  

What do you do each year to spread the holiday spirit?

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