7 Ways to Give Back This Season.

Melanie Sutrathada shares seven ways to give back this holiday season with the help of Kiehl's.jpg
Melanie Sutrathada shares seven ways to give back this holiday season with the help of Kiehl's.jpg.jpg
Melanie Sutrathada shares seven ways to give back this holiday season with the help of Kiehl's..jpg
Melanie Sutrathada shares seven ways to give back this holiday season with the help of Kiehl's.jpg

Tis the season to be jolly! The holidays are here and I couldn’t be more excited to celebrate with family, friends, and the ugliest Christmas sweaters. With all the things we get during the holiday season, I’m a firm believer in the power of giving back as well.

Here are some of my favorite ways to give back this season:

1. Volunteer at a kitchen or shelter.

This is one of my favorite ways to give back. I volunteer almost every Sunday at New York City’s biggest meal service for the meal-insecure and it is one of the most rewarding aspects of my week. Spend a couple hours of your day washing dishes or welcoming people in from the cold with a warm smile. It will change the way you view the holidays!

If you’re in New York City, an easy way to get started with volunteering is through New York Cares, a phenomenal nonprofit organization that focuses on volunteer management. Whether you’re looking for monthly or weekly volunteer opportunities, New York Cares can help match you with another organization that could use your help.

2. Shop for a cause.

There are so many brands and companies to choose from when we shop. Like, millions. Literally, millions. That being said, our dollars have a say. This holiday season, one of the best ways to make a difference is by making conscious decisions about where you’re shopping for gifts. I had the opportunity to help Kiehl’s pack meals for City Harvest and ended up walking out of their gift workshop with several pieces of their 10th Annual Limited Edition Charitable Holiday Collection made up of their Collection for a CauseSmooth Skin Delights, and Kiss Me With Kiehl’s  Why? 1. I love the products. 2. Kiehl’s pledges 100% of its net profits of this collection, up to $100,000, to Feeding America, the leading domestic hunger-relief charity in the United States. This donation will help provide 1,000,000 meals to families this holiday! Make your dollars count and shop for a cause that you support this season.

3. Clean out your closet.

Anyone else hear Eminem in their head anytime anyone references cleaning out a closet? You’re not alone! But seriously, when was the last time you cleaned out your closet? It’s time for you to Kon-Marie (if you haven’t read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I would definitely recommend it) the crap out of your life. Comb through your closet for anything you haven’t worn in the past year - whether it’s too small, out of style, or you just don’t like it anymore, there is someone in your community who could likely use it. This goes for new beauty products as well. Check this post out for more details on ways to donate your clothing and beauty products.

Not sure where to donate your goodies? Your local Goodwill or Salvation Army will gladly accept your donations, and are just two of many options available in most cities.

4. Stock up on items for your local shelter or food bank.

On your next trip to the grocery store, look for sales on nonperishable food items to donate at a food bank or a local food drive. But you can donate a lot more than just food! Through my work with Always, I learned that feminine hygiene products are some of the most requested items at shelters, so I always keep an eye out for tampons, pads, etc. Everyday basics like shampoo, soap, toothpaste, and toilet paper are also frequently in high demand.

5. Request donations instead of gifts.

Instead of having your friends give you material gifts, suggest a donation. I saw quite a few friends do this already in lieu of birthday gifts, and it always brings a smile to my face! Pick a charity or cause that you are passionate about and ask your friends to donate the money that they planned on spending on the gift for you. The internet makes it so easy to make a difference from the comfort of your laptop and now you can fundraise or donate money to any charity with a click of a button. See? Facebook isn’t just an avenue for hilarious memes and videos of cute animals snuggling (although that’s definitely what I use it for a majority of the time). #sorrynotsorry

6. Develop greener habits.

Help the Earth out by committing to a week, month, or entire holiday season of green habits. Think of small changes like choosing reusable bags instead of plastic for shopping, travel mugs for coffee instead of a one-time use cup from Starbucks, making your own wrapping paper or going without it, etc. I love getting a pesticide-free tree from a local small business in Manhattan, stuffing stockings with hand-made gifts, and supporting local family farmers when picking up ingredients for meals.We only have this one earth, and it’s more important now than ever to make more eco-friendly choices. Ain’t nobody got time for floating islands of plastic, right?


It’s time to throw kindness around like confetti! Don’t be afraid to pay the toll for the car behind you or to pick up a coffee for a friend, just because. Put your change in the Salvation Army bucket or pick up an extra toy or two for the Toys for Tots bin at your office. Another easy way to be kind is to leave little notes of encouragement on car windshields, lockers, doors, or desks. A little cheer and encouragement can help a person through their day! It can even spark a chain reaction where that person was so happy from that note, that they decide to leave notes for other people too. One small happy comment can change a person’s mood for the rest of the day.

What are your favorite ways to give back this holiday season? Share them with me at @melaniesutra on social media!

Melanie SutrathadaComment