Christmas, Hanukah, New Year’s, and various other end of year Holidays are just about here. It’s a time for gift-giving, reflection, and being grateful.

  • Was 2016 all you wanted it to be?
  • Did you get as much out of it as you put into it?
  • Given what you know now, what might you have done differently, if anything?
  • For what are you most grateful?

I don’t have to look much further than my own loving family, my friends, and my colleagues to recall 2016 with fondness, to greet 2017 with hope, and to know who and what I’m most grateful for. That’s where the gift-giving comes in—as a way to acknowledge that gratitude by sharing gifts with those most important to us, as well as with others in need or who are less fortunate.

Last year’s blog, The Act of Giving is What Matters Most, described some non-traditional ways we can give at the holidays and all year long. Here it is again, a simple gift from me to you. Enjoy!

The Act of Giving is What Matters Most

(Originally posted December 9, 2015)

It really should come as no surprise that numerous studies back up the notion that “giving is better than receiving.” It’s been common knowledge as far back as biblical times (“It is more blessed to give than receive” Acts 20:35) if not earlier. And one of the most compelling facts studies reveal is that the amount we spend on giving, whether it’s $5 or $500, doesn’t seem to matter. It’s the act of giving that matters most.

With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of 10 non-traditional ways we can “give” to others this Holiday Season (and any season for that matter), and it won’t bust your budget. You won’t find any “buy it at the mall” or “shop your nearest Macy’s” pronouncements below. That kind of gift-giving seems to come naturally. What you’ll find instead are ideas and approaches to gift giving that might not be top-of-mind for most.

  1. The Gift of Time

From a spouse or an elder relative or a child or neighbor on your street or in your development, give the gift of time—your time. Play a game, share a conversation, stop by for coffee or tea, bake some cookies together or pass some on for another person’s enjoyment.

  1. Give Something Homemade

Finding it difficult to come up with an idea for what gift to give to a particular friend or relative, who seems to have all he or she needs or wants? Homemade gifts—a craft, drawing, food/dessert, knitting or sewing project—are a great way to express your appreciation for someone in a way that’s uniquely you.

  1. Volunteer

Volunteering is one of the most rewarding ways to give back. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen, food pantry, animal shelter, or even volunteer to wrap or collect gifts. Opportunities abound. Places to learn about local volunteer opportunities include your municipal offices, churches, and schools. Online, you can find local opportunities at websites such

  1. Do a Good Deed

Do a good deed for someone now or promise to do one in the future. Buy a stranger a coffee. Shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk. Help someone carry groceries.

  1. Donate to Your Favorite Charity

Donating to a cause can make you feel good about giving money to help fight cancer, heart disease, MS, Huntington’s, poverty, and much more. Multiply your sense of giving by making the donation on behalf of someone else—two gifts in one!

  1. Homemade Gift Certificates

Make and give out homemade gift certificates for services such as a certain number of times you’ll mow the lawn, wash the car, take out the garbage, baby sit for someone, etc. This is an especially good way for children to give gifts to their parents or other adults, and for friends to do something nice for one another.

  1. Share a Talent

If you have a particular talent (singing, playing an instrument, etc.), arrange a visit to a nursing home or hospital to play songs/carols.

  1. Send a Letter to a Service Man or Woman

Whether on active duty at home or abroad, or a veteran, those who served (or are serving) our country appreciate expressions of gratitude for their sacrifices. Sending a letter of thanks that also shares a bit of hometown USA can go a long way to brightening someone else’s day. Visit to learn more.

  1. Local Toy Drives

Participate in a local toy drive to provide toys and other much-needed items for area children in need. It’s super easy. Visit a local merchant, get a gift idea (usually adorning a bulletin board or Christmas tree) and bring your gifts back to that merchant to be delivered to the child by Christmas.

  1. Donate Used Items

Drop off blankets, coats, hats, mittens/gloves, etc. to your local homeless shelter—or even Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Your used items will become someone else’s treasures. And don’t forget your local animal shelters! Donated items can often make the difference in the well-being of a stray or lost pet.

Paul June is King Monkey of BARREL O’MONKEYZ, a full-service digital media and marketing group specializing in more creativity, ideas, and fun for action sports marketing, sportswear marketing, sports product marketing, active lifestyle consumer products, health product marketing, and brands in San Diego and Southern California.