Oh, the holiday season: it’s two parts joy and two parts hustle, a dash of stress, a drop of generosity, a dollop of family gathering mayhem, and a whole lot of precious memory coziness. By this point, your lights are hung, your checklists mostly completed, and it’s time to get the party started! But after a few years of altered holidays in a global pandemic, we’re all coming into our celebrations a little more aware of how precious life is, how much we have, and how important it is to give back.

So, whether you’re marking baby's first Christmas this year, or looking to start new traditions with your older kids, we thought we’d share a few suggestions for some of our favorite ways to give back - to Give What Matters - during the holidays. The memories you make giving back as a family will stay with your children well into adulthood, complete with a sense of responsibility for their community and an understanding of the joyful satisfaction that comes with doing good for goodness sake.

Let’s do a little good together!

Donate to your local food pantry.

One of the simplest and most impactful ways to give back requires just a quick Google search and a trip to the store for shelf-stable goods. Locate your neighborhood food bank and see if they’ve shared any specific donation needs this season. Involve little ones by letting them help pick out some of their favorites (Kraft Mac n Cheese, anyone) to share with families in need. Then take a special trip to drop off your donated goods together. Can’t find a local food bank? Consider a monetary donation to Feeding America.

Volunteer to serve food at your local homeless shelter.

Serving food as a family to our friends who live outside not only provides valuable lessons about community and compassion for your older kids - it can also be a whole lot of fun! See if a homeless shelter near you needs some extra cheer-bringing servers for a holiday meal this season and make a few new friends with folks you may otherwise never engage in conversation. Sharing stories and food is a tradition that feeds bellies and souls - a perfect way to generate warm fuzzy feelings all around.

Offer to provide childcare so new parents can have a kid-free night out.

The best gift for new parents is sometimes the simplest - a no-stress date night, courtesy of free childcare provided by a trusted friend. Whether you offer to let a friend drop their kids off for an extended playdate with yours or come over and care for a newborn while parents nap in the next room, this gift is truly priceless (and comes with the bonus of sweet baby snuggles for you!).

Find a local foster care organization collecting gifts for kids in foster care.

You can help Santa make it to each and every household this season by finding a way to give new toys to foster families, kids whose parents are ill or incarcerated, or local youth shelters. Large and small retailers and religious organizations often have a variety of toy donation options, from in-store stations where you drop off any toy you choose, to specific wishlists you can fulfill for individual kids. Find a program that works well for you, and involve little ones by asking them to make a card for the recipient, choose a toy they would love to receive, or even help wrap the gift if the organization you’re giving to allows it!

Help your little one write letters of gratitude and love to family and friends.

Sometimes it's the thoughtful words that matter most. To help kids take a step back from the consumerism, commercials, and gimee gimees this time of year can bring, write letters of gratitude together to the most important people in your lives. Ask “What about grandma makes you smile?” or “What’s your favorite memory of Uncle Brian?” to get their creative wheels turning.

Support families in their hardest times by giving to Providence TrinityCare Foundation.

Here at dadada Baby, we chose to give back this year by donating a crib to a family in need through Providence TrinityCare Foundation, an organization that provides support for families coping with chronic or terminal illnesses.

Our crib went to the family of a 2-year-old we’ll call L, whose complicated birth left him with neurological and cognitive impairments. L lives with his older brother N, who is on the Autism spectrum, and his Aunt T. When L and N’s mother fell victim to a random act of violence while waiting at a bus stop, Aunt T took them in, becoming a parent to two boys with special needs overnight. She’s taken on L’s caregiving, from home care to his many appointments, and was recently able to move their new little family into a home with a yard for the boys to play outside and enough space for everyone to be comfortable as they continue to heal from their traumatic loss.

Through Providence TrinityCare Foundation, families like L’s receive financial support, furniture, and supplies to help make things just a little bit easier. Your donation can help them reach more families, and do more good for those who need it most.

Make care packages for folks who live on the street.

Another hands-on way for kids to get involved in giving back is an evening making care packages for our friends who live outside. Team up with friends and family to collect new socks, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, granola bars, bottled water, then spend an evening sorting them into gallon zip lock bags. Kids can add drawings, notes of encouragement, or holiday decorations to the care package bags. Send everyone home with a supply of bags for their car, and let kids hand them out when you encounter panhandlers on the road - a great way to teach them we can find creative ways to care for each other.

Does your family have a favorite way to give back during the holidays? We’d love to hear about it! Share your story with us using the #dadadamoments, and show us a pic of your favorite holiday giving memories!