Thanksgiving is around the corner and you know what that means ... Black Friday and all its beautiful madness is almost upon us.
Sure, it's crowded and intense, but those glorious sales make it worth it, right? Maybe you'll find that game system your kids have been begging for marked down 50% or a pair of earrings you could never justify buying for yourself until the price hit the floor. Regardless of why someone chooses to spend their post-Turkey Day weaving through hoards of sale-hungry folks, there's always a big payoff.
Of course, all that retail therapy can sometimes make you feel a wee bit selfish too. After all, even though you're taking advantage of massive sales, there are many people who don't have that luxury.
With that in mind, we challenge you to take some of that shopping energy you've stored up for Black Friday and give it back. There are plenty of little ways you can be generous to others while still being good to yourself and your loved ones.
Photo via iStock.
Together, with a little bit of ingenuity, we can make Black Friday a day of giving as well as a day of getting.
Here are 21 ways you can be generous on Nov. 24.
1. First things first: out with the old and in with the new.
Photo via iStock.
Since you're already planning on bringing home new stuff, why not go through your old clothes, shoes, and appliances first and see if there's anything you can give away?
If you're not sure what's accepted or where to bring your stuff, RecycleNow can help.
2. Heading out super early in the morning to Black Friday sales? Bring donuts and coffee.
You don't have to bring enough for everyone, but the people shivering near you in line will become your best friends.
3. On your way to the sales, why not pick up some fellow shoppers and save the environment while you save money?
Put the word out that you're going shopping on Black Friday and can offer rides to anyone else who wants to come. You'll be doing right by the planet and making shopping buddies.
4. Once you're in the stores, you can shop and give back at the same time.
While you're out braving the malls and stores, pick up some basic undershirts, socks, underwear, etc., and donate them to your local clothing bank. Often, people throw away their undergarments because they assume no one will want them used.
5. And hold the door for people while you're at it.
They may not always say "thank you," but trust me, if they're carrying a ton of bags, they'll appreciate it.
6. Be sure to pick up some cozy socks for a good cause too.
Cozy socks! Photo via Old Navy.
7. Do even more for Boys & Girls Clubs of America while you're at it.
8. Maybe also buy a gift for a friend who's been having a tough time.
Little gestures like that mean the world, especially when they're unexpected. Plus it'll give them the opportunity to talk to someone who cares.
9. And on your way home from the sales, why not swing by a homeless shelter?
Image via iStock.
With your Black Friday haul in tow, you could likely find a shelter on your route that would be eager for some help on the holiday weekend. Maybe bring them some of your Thanksgiving leftovers? Here's a handy directory to find a homeless shelter near you.
10. Or visit with a lonely senior citizen.
After all, many doorbusters are over late night Thursday/early morning Friday, so you could have the whole day to visit a nursing home or assisted living center. You have no idea what a difference a warm face and pleasant conversation can make.
11. If you're not squeamish, giving blood is always a good move too.
Photo via iStock.
I know giving blood can make some people queasy, but since you probably ate a lot the day before, there's very little chance you'll pass out from it. And, more importantly, your donation might save a life.
You can donate blood to most hospitals, but they will likely require a mini-physical first to check your vitals. Find our more here.
12. Or, if you hate needles, go play with puppies and kittens at a shelter.
Photo via iStock.
Not only will volunteering at a local animal shelter improve the lives of pets waiting for a forever home, you'll probably have a blast doing it. And who knows, you may end up falling in love with one of the critters and taking them home with you. That's certainly one fantastic way to brighten your holiday weekend.
13. You can also help incarcerated families give gifts to their loved ones.
Angel Tree allows you to give donations to incarcerated people so they can buy their families gifts for the holiday season.
14. Or you can sponsor a family in need online.
Considering you just enjoyed a gorgeous Thanksgiving meal with your family, it seems only fitting to give back by helping another family receive the same. Family-to-family allows you to sponsor a family in need by paying for a monthly box of groceries to be sent to their house.
15. You can also start a donation page on Facebook.
Yes, you can make a much bigger contribution to your charity of choice than you realize. Here's where to start.
16. And send assistance to hurricane/natural disaster victims.
[rebelmouse-image 19475626 dam="1" original_size="700x466" caption="The aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Dominica. Photo by Roosevelt Skerrit/Flickr." expand=1]The aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Dominica. Photo by Roosevelt Skerrit/Flickr.
In terms of catastrophic weather and natural disasters, this year has been particularly unforgiving. There are so many families still struggling to rebuild after Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria and the wildfires in California, so anything you're able to give will no doubt be much appreciated.
17. Rather be active? Start a game of capture the flag or touch football in your neighborhood.
You can knock on doors or send an email to see if nearby kids (or adults) could use some fun, aerobic activity.
18. Less sports and more craft-inclined? Try making a little free library.
All you need is a small cupboard that will fit several books and something to sit it on, and you've got a mini public library. Create a little sign that says something like, "take a book, but please return or replace it with one of your own."
19. Speaking of books, you can volunteer at your local library too.
Photo via iStock.
If your library is open on Black Friday, you can offer your reading skills to kids' reading hours or, if you'd rather not perform, just help organize the stacks.
20. Spend the day writing thank-you notes to all your favorite local merchants.
It's such a nice, personal way to show local business owners that their presence in the neighborhood matters to you and your family.
21. And last, but definitely not least, you can fulfill the holiday wish of a child in need.
Through donations, school drives, and crowdfunding, the incredible organization Family Giving Tree acts as Santa Claus for children in disadvantaged communities. The goal is not only to make their lives better but to inspire philanthropy and kindness in people all over the world.
You can learn more about starting your own drive for this wonderful cause here.
Whether you shop, watch sports, hang with your family, or just chill at home in your new cozy socks, there are so many ways to give back on Black Friday.
All it takes is a generous spirit and a little out-of-the-box thinking to make the day about so much more than unbelievable deals.