Thanksgiving is in our rear-view mirrors and the holidays are just a wink away! Now is the time when most of us start making lists in hopes that no one is forgotten or (gasp!) receiving a gift without having one to give in return. We’ve all been there. Nephew? Boss? Receptionist? Amazon delivery driver? The list can get mighty long if we allow our thoughts to go deep enough. Although, maybe it’s time to start thinking a little outside the giftbox…

In the past, we at Sin 7 would organize a Secret Santa gift exchange. It was 2 years of exchanging gift cards for nail services and lattes – very uninspiring. Luckily one of our stylists had a great idea for the following year. What if, instead of giving these thoughtless gifts of monetary value, we adopt a family for Christmas and give them the gift of a special Christmas? Gifts that mean something to people who need them! It was and continues to be a hit. This year we are excited to include our guests in the generosity, by inviting them to participate in donating with us. We have chosen a single mom with 2 very young girls.  As many of our team members have recently had baby girls, we couldn’t be more excited to shop for this wonderful family. From choosing gifts to loading up on groceries the determination has absolutely increased, but the reward of helping a family enjoy a beautiful time together has been worth every little ounce of effort. A great suggestion for an office or work team, to pull together and brighten up a local family’s holiday.

Every year, throughout the year (not just at Christmas), we do out best in helping support local charities with fundraising. There are so many charities and good causes that it can be a little overwhelming! Budgeting per donation is a useful tool, and helps us to choose many causes, not just one. Recently the team at Sin 7 put together a basket of Aveda favorites and a gift card for a local hospital’s United Way auction. It didn’t take much effort, but helps improve the lives of many local impoverished children. Take an extra moment or two today to this holiday season to look up local charities in your area to see where you can make a difference. It’s another great team building task that always leaves us wanting to give more. Suggest it at your next staff meeting or spearhead it yourself and ask for volunteers to help sponsor the items.

Food banks, can drives, Christmas hampers, baked goods fundraising. This theme is near and dear to my heart. As a member of a very large family in a very small home growing up, there was always a shortage of most things, food being the most notable. The food bank is a charity I personally love to support, as I know what a difference it can make for a struggling family with too many mouths to feed. This is also a very easy ask! Get family members to donate a large hamper together, or recruit co-workers and colleagues to do a non-perishable food drive in the office. Make it into a contest to bring the friendly competition out in each other. Food is important all year, no doubt about that. Christmas though, can be especially hard for those in need, as there is a hopeless feeling associated with not being able to give or do more for those loved ones. If organizing a food drive sounds like too much, there is also the beauty of serving on Christmas day, to very grateful and hungry people in need of a little help. Volunteering at a local homeless shelter or church to help serve food is beyond rewarding. Give it try at least once in your life, you will never regret it.

Speaking of Christmas dinner…What if we all reached out to an elderly person in our life who might not have any family nearby? A neighbour perhaps, or a friendly dogwalker that you see every day, same time, that you wave to, that is always alone? This might sound crazy, inviting a stranger to share a meal, but use your sound judgement. In my neighbourhood there is an older woman who moved from eastern Canada and has no local friends or family. I invite her to dinner every year when I’m hosting, it makes a difference in how that day ends for her.

Hopefully this has inspired you like it’s inspired me, to help where I can and to show support where it’s needed. This holiday season, we wish you and your families a beautiful time together, full of meaning and love. Giving is the gift!

Here’s to your health,