Guide to Giving Back This Holiday Season

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Guide to Giving Back this Holiday Season

We all know that you can score some incredible deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but you may not have thought about using holiday deals to purchase donations. The holidays are a great time to give back, and in that spirit #GivingTuesday was born.

#GivingTuesdayWhat is #GivingTuesday exactly?

It’s a national movement during the holidays dedicated to charitable giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are synonymous with holiday shopping. The goal of #GivingTuesday is to encourage people everywhere including retailers, charities, online organizations, community centers, individuals and families to come together with one common purpose — to help others, give more, give smarter, and celebrate the great American spirit of generosity through charitable contributions and volunteerism.

Find a local charity

Many of your small, local charities don’t have as many corporate donors as the larger ones do, so they need and appreciate the donations (monetary, goods, or volunteer time) much more. Charity Navigator is a great tool for finding reputable, highly-rated organizations. (Side-note: very small charities are not rated on Charity Navigator, but don’t rule them out. Ask for recommendations from friends and neighbors.)

Identify their highest priority needs

Following charities on social media or checking their website are great ways to see their most urgent needs, but you can easily shoot them a quick email to get a list, too. Of course, any donations will always be appreciated, but it’s nice to have a goal when you head out deal-hunting.

Food Donations

Shelters always needs things like clothing, coats, boots, blankets, pillows, eyeglasses, and hygiene items, including diapers and feminine hygiene products. Children’s hospitals are a great place to donate things like coloring books, DVDs, toys, gift cards, and art supplies. Canned goods and other non-perishable items are on sale during the holidays, and are great for food pantries. You can also check your local school district for Title 1 schools in your area, and donate items like coats, hats, gloves, boots, backpacks, school supplies, gift cards, and other items.

Look around for items you already have

It’s nice to find great deals, but you probably have many donatable items around your home already. Coats your kids have outgrown, shampoo and other items from your stockpile, old bedding sets, etc., are all needed somewhere. Also consider pulling from your gift closet. Signing up for samples throughout the year is a super easy and frugal way to donate.

PinchMe samples

Follow the sales

Check out this post on sale cycles to see the best items to score big on each month. It’s a great way to shop smart throughout the year, and avoid buying something last minute and spending too much. Also, follow all of our deals HERE.


Donate pet food

Animal shelters are always in need of cat and dog food donations, and it’s not always something we remember, but with couponing, this can be a great way to be frugal while giving back.

Donations are great, but volunteering is FREE!

Some organizations really rely on volunteers, so if you can’t seem to pull off donating, volunteering is just as good, if not better! There are a million different ways to volunteer your time, and no shortage of organizations that desperately need it.

I also can’t put enough emphasis on how rewarding volunteering can be, especially for kids. The experience is invaluable, eye-opening, and incredibly humbling. Who couldn’t use a little of that this time of year?

Some great ways to get kids involved:

See if you can find somewhere to volunteer that allows children (check age restrictions!). If volunteering in person is not an option, organize a donation drive. Identify an organization that might be relevant to your child, and discuss the importance of donations to that particular charity.


Every year we have a hot chocolate party for my kids and their friends, but we’ve turned it into a donation drive, as well. This year we’re asking for donations of diapers for the local homeless shelter. I’m just going to make a couple pots of hot chocolate in my slow cookers, and ask our guests to bring fun toppings (like whipped cream, candy canes, marshmallows, etc.). It’s SO much fun, and costs nearly nothing, AND we get to help out the local homeless shelter. Win-win, right?!


I’m pretty new to the team, so most of you don’t know this, but I’m the Vice President of a small non-profit organization in Salt Lake City, UT. We focus on volunteering and holding donation drives for various local organizations and communities, so I’m very familiar with, and passionate about giving back. The picture above is from when we served dinner at a local homeless shelter.


If you’re short on time or money, simply find a way to pay it forward

Paying for someone’s coffee, leaving a dollar on the toy aisle at the dollar store, donate blood, leave encouraging post-it notes in library books and other random places, compliment a stranger, hold the door open, smile at someone…

Random Acts of Kindness

You never know how a few kind words can change someone’s day…

acts_of_kindness_cardsYou may also want to head here to print these random act of kindness cards.

Written by Danielle for Hip2Save. Danielle is a proud mom to 5 amazing kids in Utah, who lives for coffee and baking. She’s dedicated to balancing her own interests and passions, while encouraging her children to follow their own paths in life.

Join The Discussion

Comments 33

  1. zahra

    I love all your ideas. I always make sure that through out the year i am giving. I be live in giving you shall receive. Countless people need help today and every little bit counts. Thank you go the wonderful deals too!

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thanks! Every bit does count. πŸ™‚

  2. Elaine

    As a heads up, Children’s Hospitals discourage donating books. I used to volunteer for the Ronald McDonald Room and they wanted us to get rid of the books. You can’t sanitize the book which is a problem since it’s a hospital. For the ones we already had, if a kid touched it we were told to have the kid take it or we were supposed to get rid of it.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Ah, good to know! I know ours has specifically requested coloring books, so I’ll fix that. Thanks for the heads-up!

  3. Tracy

    Also if you don’t have time or money during most days is just remember to be polite to strangers. Being more aware. A lot of people don’t recognize how they talk to people. You might not see them again but that doesn’t mean you should act poorly. I see people all around me all the time who don’t interact very well. That’s okay if your a bit shy. But being nicer to cashiers and others in general will make you feel better too. When your out and see somebody struggling to help them. Say if someone dropped something or some things fell off a shelf. Help them. Help put away their carts. Say hello. Say good morning, good afternoon. Wish them a good day.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      So true! <3

  4. Becky

    As someone who works for a non-profit that depends on our volunteers and donors, this post is awesome. Everyone, please know that even an hour of your time and something small like a lip gloss or pair of socks goes such a long way. Don’t forget you can do all of the above (in the post) all year ’round, not just in December! <3

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Such a good reminder! Thanks! <3

  5. Tiff

    I’m a foster mom for cats/kittens for a charity in my area. πŸ˜‰ my favorite monetary charity is #WorldVision. I love giving and volunteering!

  6. RZ

    I realize that people mean well when they try to “pay it forward”, but leaving coupons lying around is a bad idea. Store employees restock shelves/rearrange items daily and do not appreciate having to clean up coupons and cards that get in the way of that, or fall to the ground and become trash (or worse- something to slip and fall on!), so they’re most likely to just get thrown out anyway. Better to donate them, exchange them, or give them away to someone who plans to use them.

    Same w/ $…I’d rather just pay for someone’s coffee and have the chance to strike up a conversation, maybe make a new friend. Better than leaving cash lying around, for just anyone to take it.

    • zahra

      Pay it forward that’s the point i have left many coupons by the items and several times the workers will take them and thank me. So i don’t think of it as a waste. The point is to give!

      • RZ

        I understand what the point of it is…you totally missed the point of what I was saying though. You don’t care about the mess it makes because you’re not the one having to stock shelves and clean up daily lol.

        Also- if the employees are taking them instead of other customers picking them up, then obviously a customer isn’t gonna be using them…so how is that not a waste? You can give in other ways too.

        • zahra

          Giving is giving no mater who gets it customers, workers, anyone who can use the coupon. I do care about the workers i don’t leave hundreds of coupons just to make a mess. Common.

          • RZ

            Have you ever worked in retail before? The workers aren’t taking those coupons to use them lol…they will throw them out! They don’t care about saving 35 cents on baked beans…all stores are required to have a certain aesthetic and coupons on the shelves and floor interferes w/ that. It’s just creating more work for other people to do. You don’t leave hundreds lying around obviously, but many other ppl think like you and do the same thing.

            Giving isn’t giving if you’re making things harder for the people that have to clean up, but conveniently you ignore that.

            • Jess

              I’ve worked in a grocery store for 17 years. It has never bothered me to find coupons others have left. I myself will tape them onto the product. Constantly cleaning up after customers creates job security. Yes, stores have certain aesthetics, but I don’t see how a coupon on an item affects it. Perhaps the customer who finds the coupon will buy something they originally hadn’t planned. Incremental sales is what keeps businesses alive. The store doesn’t lose any money from manufacturer coupons.

              • zahra

                Thank u πŸ˜€

        • Sei

          Lol sounds like you missed the point. The coupon is still used by someone who needs it, do you perhaps work as a stocker because it may be a personal thing instead? Most ppl don’t mind coupons next to items mainly if they are paper clipped, if it falls takes only a second.

          • RZ

            No, I didn’t. Try re-reading my comment- I said that I understand the point of paying it forward and specifically mentioned *better* ways to do it.

            And no lol it’s not a personal thing… it’s common knowledge about how retail stores work and having consideration for retail workers. People like to imagine that those coupons will be used b/c it makes them feel good about leaving them lying around… but they’re not the ones having to stock shelves daily, re-arrange products, throw out clutter on the shelves, sweep the floors, etc. It may take “only a second” but when it’s aisle after aisle, that adds up and is just obnoxious.

            Coupons also wind up inside the refrigerated section and freezers, and damage the equipment when they get sucked in….causing costly repairs. Talk to someone that manages a supermarket and they’ll tell you that it often costs them time and $ to deal w/ this issue.

            • Amber

              RZ, just stop.

          • justme

            just the other day a coupon fairy left a $1 coupon by some brand name sliced cheese. I was so happy! I gladly picked up the coupon and used it! It was nice getting a higher end brand of cheese due to someones act of kindness in leaving it there. I agree with Sei! When I have a coupon for a nice item that I won’t be using I leave it for someone who can use it.

            • Cherry luva

              Agreed!! Here in Wisconsin we have grocery stores called Woodman’s. It’s HUGE! say your store has only Kraft cheese, well woodman’s will have that plus 60 other name brands…anyhow, a lot of times the store actually takes the time to either hang store coupons or actually tape individual coupons to some of the items

            • Sharon

              It’s rare that I see any coupons left on the shelves at my store but I recently found one for a free bag of salad. It did make my day to have a fun surprise.

    • ej

      I work as a stocker n when I c them I place them on top or right below so it’s sticking out but still out of the way. In regards to cleaning, the store gets cleaned everyday (there r more tissue, tags, coffee cups than coupons). Some stores even have those coupon machines so I can’t c how it would cause more trouble but I can c where ur coming from. At times I share a store discount (15%off) with the person ahead or Infront of me instead.

  7. thehenrydthoreau

    It’s so sad a day must exist to give to others. I picked a tag off the Angel Tree where are a 5 year seeks school supplies for a holiday gift.

  8. ej

    It’s because of u n ur team I’m able to donate gifts from my gift closet to 25 families with little ones in the NICU. Most of the items I got them for close to free & most expensive item was from Barnes and Noble $2 deal that u posted about earlier in the year. Thank you for helping me to donate n encourage others.

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      That’s great! <3

  9. Dara

    Danielle, thanks for these helpful tips for being of service to others. And thanks for your hard work on this wonderful website. Collin and the crew are the BEST!

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      You’re so welcome! <3

  10. Barb

    Great article, and love how to H2S shows that you don’t need to be wealthy to make a contribution. I volunteer at an animal shelter and in addition to the standard treats and toys that they always need, by checking to see if an organization has a wishlist online you may learn they need things you hadn’t thought of – e.g., shelters need basic office supplies, cleaning supplies, etc. In my apt building we have 2 decorated donation boxes – one for canned food for the food bank and one for the animal shelter (some food banks may accept pet food as well for their clients with pets). Consider seeing if your apartment building, work, gym, etc will put up a donation box for charitable items. Even if everyone just donates a little, you’ll end up with a lot!

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thanks for the great tips! πŸ™‚

  11. Megan

    This year, my local Credit Union (WSECU) chose 8 members to give $100 to so that they could participate in #GivingTuesday and pay it forward. My husband was chosen and we had the opportunity to donate $50 to our small local Library and $50 for gifts for the Giving Tree. Such an awesome opportunity!

    • Danielle (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      That’s fantastic! πŸ™‚

  12. rn30032

    This post went way south fast over nothing! Let’s be nice and focus on the real reason for the season..Happy birthday Baby JesusπŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

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