Monday, December 19, 2016

8 UHeart Organizing: Three Easy Ways to Give Back During the Holiday Season

Christmas is just around the corner, and that means the giving spirit is running extra high! As each day comes and goes, I am winding down on all of my shopping, decorating and activities, and really focused on being in the moment and cherishing all that this time of the year has to offer. A huge part of that is not only spending time with those I love, but it also means finding ways to give back in any way I can.

With that, I am incredibly thankful for Serena and her kind heart. She is here today to share some really wonderful and simple ideas for giving back this season. So if you are looking for some last minute ideas and ways to get involved around your community (or even around the world), snag a little giving inspiration below.

Happy Holidays IHeart Organizers! I love the holidays. I also happen to think the holiday season is an organizers dream come true – from organizing all the decorations, creating spreadsheets for gift giving (I know – I’m a total nerd) and planning fun get togethers, it’s any organized gal’s time to shine!

Yet, for this post I wanted to touch on something much more special; and that’s giving back to others this Christmas and holiday season.

And no, I’m not talking about donating to George Constanza’s Human Fund (Happy Festivus to those playing along though!)

Many of us are very lucky to live the lives we do, and there’s no time better than the holidays to pay it forward. So why not use your organization skills for good this Christmas and send out a bit more love into the universe.

Here’s three easy ways to give back to others this holiday season…


Let’s face it, while real advent calendars (where you can fill up each of the 25 days of Christmas with a chocolate, note or gift) are super fun in theory, often all the chocolate gets eaten long before December 25 rolls around.

With a REVERSE Advent Calendar you don’t take something each day, but you add something.

It’s simple – grab a Christmas stocking or hamper, and starting December 1 (or whenever you can really!) pop in a new item. The most obvious way is to add edible goods - like canned soups, rice, cereals, biscuits, tea and coffee.

Then, come Christmas day, you have a full hamper of goodies to donate to your local food bank, church or non-profit helping those in need.

While a food hamper is the most popular option, I like to think outside the box with the reverse advent calendar. Here are some of my favorite ideas:

  • Cleaning supplies, old blankets/towels and new dog treats & toys – DONATE to your local ASPCA, or rescue shelter for cats and dogs. See my full tutorial for a Reverse Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers HERE.
  • New or gently used books in excellent condition – DONATE to troops abroad through Books for Soldiers, students in Africa through Books for Africa, or to the many in need through Libraries without Borders.
  • Spare diapers, baby wipes, and gently used baby toys – DONATE to your local church, early childhood centre or Baby2Baby.
  • Gently used items of clothing in good condition – clean out that wardrobe and DONATE to the Salvation Army for those in need.


Another great way to use your organization skills to give back is to host a gathering with friends and get a volunteer to dress up as Santa.

Have guests bring one small present for their child (or children if they have them) and another small present for a child in need.

Then, when Santa makes his appearance at the party, all the kids get an early Christmas present, while the other half of the gifts can be donated.

It’s a great way to catch up with loved ones and give back at the same time.

For places to donate your collected presents, check out Be an Elf (USA) and the Kmart Wishing Tree (Australia).

Also – if you don’t have kids, this idea totally works for adults too! Consider bringing gifts that would help out those in homeless shelters, or seniors in local nursing homes who may not have family nearby.


Nothing says the holidays like Christmas Cookies and holiday cocktails!

While gatherings where friends get together to decorate Christmas cookies, wrap their holiday presents, or just get quietly messy on eggnog are nothing new, this year add a twist…

Have each guest make a small donation (no amount is too small!) when they arrive, and at the end of the party take the full amount and donate to your favorite charity.

Just think, you can eat your body weight in cookies or drink it in holiday cocktails – all the while you’re actually giving back to others.

If that doesn’t give you the warm and fuzzies I don’t know what will!

Wishing you all a joyful holiday season. Ho ho ho!


Hi! I'm Serena - self confessed neat freak, animal lover and baker of cookies. I'm the editor behind Pretty Fluffy - an online home for dog owners where dedicated animal lovers can find stylish products, modern advice, health tips, recipes, DIYs and inspiration for living well with their pets. I'm the author of the best-selling recipe book 52 Weeks of Treats, and have contributed to Everyday with Rachael Ray, Modern Dog, and many other publications - but my favourite will always be IHeart Organizing! If you like cute animals, pretty stuff and the overuse of dog emoji you can follow along with me on Pinterest and Instagram.


  1. I love the reserve Advent Calendar!! Good idea!! Merry Christmas

    1. Agree! Loved it so much we are doing it with our boys! Such a good idea!

  2. Love these ideas of giving back. The reverse advent calendar is so clever! Thanks for sharing dear!

    Edwige |

  3. Thanks so much for the links! Good intentions get so much further in practice when I have that information ready to go! And I was JUST thinking that I'd love to send my don't-need-anymore baby items directly to babies in need if I can. Thanks!

  4. I really like the reverse Advent Calendar idea. Thank you for sharing it.

  5. The Reverse Advent Calendar is genius! You could even do it with pieces of clothing or toys to give to Salvation Army or Goodwill. Love this!

  6. I love, love, love the reverse Advent calendar idea. I can't do it this year but I'm sure I'll do it when I settle in somewhere. :)

  7. The Advent calendar is genius! It would also work to clean out your closet or the kids' toys. I know when I was younger our parents always said to us that in order to get gifts from Santa we had to give away toys to children who needed them more than us!


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