Celebrate the Holidays Oprah Style: How To Give to Those in Need with a Half and Half Holiday

As usual, Oprah knows best. We’re loving this great approach on seasonal gift giving from O Magazine: the “half and half” holiday. Gregg Easterbrook (author of The Progress Paradox) coined the idea. He says, “For every dollar you spend on a gift, donate an equal amount to charity. Or, for every real gift you purchase, contribute the same amount to a group that champions the recipient’s favorite cause.”

The half-and-half holiday rocks because it provides an organized model for making a difference in the world—while still giving great gifts to friends and loved ones!

With that philosophy in mind, there are plenty of inspiring ways to get into the giving spirit, including, learn how to donate toys, books and the really juicy stuff (love and hope) to kids in need. And if you’re short on cash, don’t despair—there are plenty of opportunities to give your time and energy.

Letters to Santa Program: Each year, the United States Postal Service receives millions of letters from children with their Christmas wish—many from families who can’t afford a Christmas on their own. Want to play elf and answer a letter or two? Find out how you can participate in the program and help a needy family celebrate the holiday. (PS: One special thing we love about Letters to Santa? The letters are almost entirely kept local, so you’ll be helping out kids in your own community!)

Project Night Night: Being homeless is hard on any kid, especially during the holidays. That’s why we love Project Night Night. This amazing project aims to comfort homeless children by providing each with, “a new security blanket, an age-appropriate children’s book and a stuffed animal—all nestled inside of a canvas tote bag.” Learn how you can start a drive in your own community and spread kindness to kids who need it most. Too overwhelmed to do a drive right now? You can also make a monetary donation to provide packages and even donate in the name of someone you love.

First Book: Around here, we believe in the power of reading. So do the folks at First Book, who provide, “educators in low-income communities with ongoing access to new, quality books and resources for the children they serve.” It’s a pretty amazing project and now you can be part of it by shopping through the First Book Gift Catalog (which offers collections of books to donate at prices ranging from $25 to $25,000 dollars). We especially dig the Empowering Stories for Girls package, which may include books like Anne of Green Gables and Wrinkle in Time; after all, “young girls desperately need positive, empowering role models that they can relate to.” (Plus, when you give a gift in honor of someone you love, you can personalize and print your own holiday cards!)

Toys for Tots: There are so many ways to help make sure every child gets a toy this holiday season! The Marine Toy for Tots program program is a great one that offers opportunities for you to buy and donate gifts for kids in your community, sort toys in a local warehouse and even participate in fundraising fun runs to help Toys for Toys meet its goals. When you make a donation in the name of someone you love, Toys for Tots will, “send them a greeting card or e-mail notifying them of your thoughtfulness.”

Macy’s Believe Campaign: Short on cash but big on holiday spirit? Just write a letter to Santa, drop it off at a special mailbox at a Macy’s store near you and the store will donate $1 to Make-a-Wish Foundation, an amazing organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. Help the campaign raise $1 million dollars. Find out more—and get started designing a cool card. You have until December 24 to participate!