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10 Ways to Give Back as a Family (Free Printable for Inspiration, Too!)

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More Free Printables

woman pointing to pay it forward printable

Throw kindness around like confetti! 🎊

Looking for ways to give back this holiday season? We’ve come up with a list of inspiring random acts of kindness so you can fill your community with positivity. Now more than ever people could use our help so this will be a great way to involve the whole family, focus your attention on helping others, and paying it forward.

Read on to feel inspired and grab our FREE printable before you get started!

girl leaving surprise money on a gas tank random act of kindness

We all know giving is so much more rewarding than receiving, so feel free to use our ideas as a helpful tool to start thinking about how your family can come together and model selflessness this season. I even made a free printable for inspiration plus a blank one if you’d rather come up with a unique list all your own!

Download my FREE Random Acts of Kindness printable now!

Or use the blank printable to create your own!

hand holding pay it forward printable

It’s worth noting that your ideas can be simple acts of kindness that don’t cost a thing or they can be bigger projects where you go all out! Regardless, any act of kindness will make a difference – no matter how big or small.

There’s no timeline for kindness, so you and your family can go at your own pace or set a goal date to accomplish your list.

1. Collect & donate unused household items & clothing.

clothes and household items to donate

This is something the whole family can easily participate in, and it’s also a great way to make room and declutter your home. Have the kids go through their toy box for unused toys, gather clothes that no longer fit, and don’t forget to check that game closet for ones collecting dust!

Make sure to also check out our 4-week clean-out challenge if you’re looking to do a serious detox in every room (don’t worry, we have a printable for that too). Then, donate to your favorite charity, or host a garage sale and donate proceeds.

Hip Tip: Speaking of donating, did you see our Reverse Advent Calendar? It’s the perfect idea for the holidays! ❤️

2. Deliver food to people in need.

groceries donated during COVID-19

With COVID, there are a plethora of food banks needing your help or you could also consider calling your local shelter to see what food items are needed most. Better yet, if you’ve been stockpiling groceries in your pantry, this idea might not cost you anything if you can shop your own pantry.

You could also turn this idea into your very own food drive! Food banks can always use extra hands with organizing so get the family together, make some posters, and count and sort donations from loved ones to deliver the donations to the local food pantry.

3. Make a difference for an animal.

woman looking at dog

Sometimes those in need have four legs and a furry tail! You can help dogs and cats in many ways including fostering, adopting, or even volunteering for a couple of hours at an animal shelter near you. You can also consider donating other needed items to your local animal shelters such as blankets, food, and dog toys.

Hip Tip: We often post awesome pet-related deals so make sure to check them out before you purchase anything for your donation.

4. Lead a book drive.

little girl reading a book

Make sure everyone has books to read! Encourage literacy by collecting new and gently used books from your home, friends, neighbors, and family and then donate to your local school, library, or women’s shelter.

Better yet, you can put fliers out for a contactless pick-up and set a date to gather all the book donations.

5. Curate care packages for the homeless. 

making blessing bags with toiletries

Consider collecting small personal care items and compiling “Blessing Bags” using freezer bags for those affected by homelessness. Your family can help compile them by including items like travel-sized shampoo, a toothbrush, soap, granola bars, clean socks, gift cards for food, and more!

6. Visit a nursing home.

man holding a package in front of window with elder looking outside

Any surprise visit to a nursing home will delight someone’s day. Either show up with a little care package or grace them with your time – either way, it’ll be sure to brighten their day. Especially during the holidays when many are celebrating alone, make a special visit with the kids, go caroling in the halls, or deliver some handmade cards. Any will mean so much to someone in a nursing home.

*With COVID causing many extra precautions, especially in nursing homes, please make sure to contact your local nursing home before making any arrangements to stop by. They might be currently closed to visitors or like our recent experience, you’ll have to visit outside their window. 

7. Adopt or help a family in need. 

kids sitting at table looking at phone on tripod

Maybe there’s a family you know that is struggling or a parent who could use a little extra help as they juggle our new “normal”. You could volunteer to babysit, tutor kids during virtual schooling (this can even be done virtually!), help with housework, walk their dog, or even help with their yard work.

As another idea (and if your budget allows), consider surprising a family or person in need with some basic groceries or a grocery store gift card to help lighten the load! If you’ll be buying the groceries yourself, you can even plan for them to be delivered directly to their door!

8. Plan ways of surprise giving.

girl sticking money to a gas tank random act of kindness

Surprising random strangers unexpectedly feels so good! For ideas, you can grab some cash and leave it in unexpected places like a gas station or vending machine, pay for the person behind you in the fast-food or Starbucks drive-through line, or you could even grab some 5 or 10 dollar gift cards and hand them to strangers as you walk down the street!

Don’t have a budget for this? Surprise someone with a nice compliment, or a friendly smile – as those are totally FREE and can still turn someone’s whole day around. 🙂

9. Lift a soldier’s spirits by saying “Thank You”.

writing a soldier a thank you letter

Write letters of gratitude or put together a simple care package to send to the troops. Check out websites like or for information on how to donate. Plus, this is even a great activity for kids to practice their writing skills! Win, win!

10. Run or walk for a cause. 

man running in marathon next to woman

Get you or the whole family moving together to benefit a great cause! Participate in a local run or walk that raises money for a charity that’s important to you and your family. Participants usually pay a registration fee and collect pledges, and in return enjoy a fun run or walk outdoors that’s likely to become a tradition year after year.

You can find upcoming events by searching on Facebook or head over to where you can search in your area and narrow it down by date. Plus, some charities are even hosting virtual races for those who don’t wish to leave their home.

Give back this season with this reverse advent calendar idea!

Join The Discussion

Comments 12

  1. Evie

    Just wondering why the food banks do not pay people to do this work. This would do a lot to help many who do not have jobs or income.
    Why is everything volunteer?
    Does the ceo volunteer?

    • Living4fridays

      Great question, Evie. My last position was as a Development Director for a food pantry/homeless shelter. Our non-profit was founded by area churches and 100% funded by the community. Our salaries were minimal, but we were all degreed professionals. Extra help would have been nice, but additional salaries would leave less money for the programs. Our food pantry workers were inmates until the halfway house closed down, so the community stepped in with volunteers. Many of these volunteers are seniors from churches, a very vulnerable population during this pandemic. Your local service agencies have at minimum, doubled their caseloads and while losing many volunteers. The need is great; the resources are limited. Volunteer If you can, but donate if you can’t.

      • Lo

        I’ve heard it’s better to donate the cash amount I would have spent than to buy the groceries myself. Is that true?

      • Julia

        Yes, the non-profit where I volunteer has been very slow to add paid staff. We do pay them well yet there’s only a couple of people plus occasional contractors. The problem we want to avoid is having to fundraise to pay staff and having to shed staff during economic downturns. There are pros and cons to relying on volunteers for sure.
        I also applied to work at a non-profit for a teaching position. It paid half or less what a public school would pay so I imagine it is hard for them to find and keep qualified staff, at least staff who need to pay for childcare.

      • Evie

        The small nonprofits may have this dilemma.
        I was talking about the bigger ones who have ceos. If they can afford to pay millions to ceos, I guess they do have little money for others.
        Humm, is this the “Don’t waste a good crisis for a reset moment?”

  2. coartney03

    Lina! Are you going to do a Christmas or winter “bucket list”? My family really enjoyed the fall bucket list! Thanks

  3. Clarissa

    Love this! At the animal shelter where I volunteer, the line for the pet pantry food bank has grown just as lines across the country have grown at regular food banks. Check to see if your shelter/local animal rescue/human food bank distributes pet food and consider making a donation. You’re helping both the animals and people by keeping families together and preventing the need for people to surrender their animals at shelters due to economic reasons. One item often overlooked but needed by cat guardians is litter! Hope to see posts of all the good H2S readers do this holiday season!

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for bringing this up! I had no idea!

  4. Nessa

    I want that Hedbanz game!

  5. Evie

    The small nonprofits may have this dilemma.
    I was talking about the bigger ones who have ceos. If they can afford to pay millions to ceos, I guess they do have little money for others.
    Humm, is this the “Don’t waste a good crisis for a reset moment?”

  6. Sharron

    They are having a hard time even getting food. There are so many out of work, how can they pay them? If you can donate your time or donate food, this is an act of kindness and love for your community.

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