THE BLOG
12/08/2012 04:23 pm ET Updated Feb 07, 2013

Are You Buying or Giving This Holiday Season?

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What's your holiday season look like? For many of you, it's about fighting for a parking spot in an overcrowded mall, spending hours searching for gifts that aren't needed or wanted, and then cooking for a bunch of people you don't really care to spend time with on any other day of the year. Welcome to the season of excess consumption, overwhelming stress and false pretences.

The holidays don't have to be that way. True holiday spirit is about giving to those in need. That's not the kind of giving that drains your bank account and floods your credit cards. It's giving that comes from the heart. If you're buying gifts out of obligation, it becomes a chore. If you're buying gifts you can't afford, it becomes a worry. If you're buying gifts people will never use, it becomes a waste.

Don't buy into the commercial rules for the holiday season. Do it another way -- with heart instead of guilt. Here are ten suggestions that could put the spirit of giving back into your holidays:

  1. Give consumable, low-priced gifts (homemade cookies, movie tickets, candles).
  2. Pick a charity and tell all your friends in lieu of gifts, you will be donating to this charity. (I've done this for years, and not only have some friends followed suit, it relieves tons of holiday stress.)
  3. Volunteer your time at a shelter for the homeless (people or animals).
  4. Give the gift of quality time to friends and families by planning outings together instead of exchanging "stuff."
  5. Cheer up the sick and lonely with a visit and a smile (children and adults in hospitals, seniors in nursing homes).
  6. Host a giving party and ask everyone to bring a gift or donation for your favorite charity.
  7. Clean out your cabinets and closets and give away what you don't use anymore to those in need.
  8. Don't spend more than five minutes on something you don't want to do or with someone you don't like.
  9. Clean up a neighborhood park, beach, trail or street with a bunch of friends.
  10. Spend a few minutes each night in a state of gratitude and love, and then intentionally send those feelings out to the world for all who need it.

Photo Credit: Seven Cukron, Dreamstime.com