Let me start by saying that I studied Economic Sociology in college and honestly loved every minute of it. We spent a lot of time talking about why people spend money (duh because it’s so much fun), what they choose to spend it on (Anthropologie, Madewell, Birkenstocks, just to name a few…), and the micro and macro affects of people spending money in the ways that they do (does every single store have their own Athleisure line now?!). And one thing that we discussed quite a bit was the idea of giving back and the principles of reciprocity. We talked about the fact that when people donate money, time, or goods they feel happier and lead better lives. So, with that in mind, the StudioHop team has rounded up 10 ways to give back this holiday season.
Giving Back to Those In Need:
- Blankets & Towels: I don’t know what y’all are thinking, but I’ve been noticing some extra #extra weather this fall. One day the beautiful Texas sun will be shining down on my sweat-mustache at a blistering 90 degrees, and the next morning I’ll wake up to “freezing” cold temps in the high 40s or low 50s. It’s making it very difficult for me to know when to shave my legs. On the colder days, driving around in my super-cool-Jeep, I’m reminded of how lucky I am that knowing when I can skip the razor is my biggest problem. These are the days when I pass some other Dallas residents who have fallen on hard times and see them sitting on benches or near warm door ways, trying to stay warm with no home or office to take them in. For this reason, I try to keep some old blankets and towels in my car. I wash them with my favorite detergent and dry them with a little lavender oil – so that they smell extra snuggly. Then, I pack them in the trunk of my aforementioned, bad-ass, Jeep and if I see someone who looks cold, I’ll hand them a blanket/towel and wish them luck.
- Those Calls from Your Alma Mater: Am I the only one that has SMU’s call center’s phone number memorized? Not because I call it so often, but because I ignore it so often? Well I’m here to tell you that scholarship money, building renovations on campus, and resources for clubs and other on-campus activities are actually super critical to those kids who are still #LivingTheDream in college. Have I heard how much college costs these days? Do I know that the private University’s lawn maintenance budget is supposedly astronomical? Have I read what the school’s president’s salary is?! Yes, yes, yes. But, when you give back to your Alma Mater you can designate your gift specifically to scholarships to make sure it goes to a kid, like the younger you, who is living their best self in college. Also, I don’t know about you, but I really liked having a nice lawn to not study on and a president who tried his damndest to keep me safe and my school awesome while I was in attendance. So, consider picking up that call, chatting with a nice student, and giving a little something back. ((See my intro paragraph about how good you’ll feel afterwards)).
- Clean Out Your Closet: Lost 10 lbs and 4 inches since joining StudioHop earlier this year? Time to clean (clap) out (clap) that (clap) closet (clap, clap). One woman’s last season Madewell fuzzy sweater, is another woman’s cozy winter dream. So, go through your closet, make a pile, wash that pile, fold it up, nicely bag it in a waterproof bag, thank those items for what they have done for you (ala Marie Kondo) and then drop them off in that donation box in front of Target, Goodwill, etc. and imagine the joy those items will bring to their new owner.
Giving Back to Family Members:
- Dial Your Grandma’s Home Line: Want to make someone’s day this holiday season? Pick up your smartphone, tap the phone icon, go to your contacts, select an older family member, and hit “CALL.” I included those steps, because I know how rare it is for any of us to actually dial someone’s number (“Hello! Just text me, I’m watching TV and don’t want to put on mute” – said me always). So, call someone and say, “Hi Aunt Dottie, I was just calling to say ‘hello’ and see how you’re doing.” And then take it from there. I’m telling you with 100% certainty that this will make this family member’s day, week, maybe even their whole year. And just because you call them once, doesn’t mean you have to make a regular thing out of it, although don’t blame me if you end up falling in love with weekly chats with Aunt Dottie. I bet she’ll support every decision you make and continuously remind you of how handsome/beautiful you are and how lucky a potential SO would be to have you.
- Cook Up Some Love: Schedule a cooking date with your dad. Ask your dad to set aside some time the day before Thanksgiving to walk you through exactly how he makes that amazingly juicy and delicious turkey. You’ll likely want to prepare to make some small talk to avoid looking down as he removes the innards from the bird. I know all dads are different, but when I’m looking to #Bond with the actual best dad in the world (no offense to all of your dads), I ask mine about the stock market or how Venezuela going bankrupt will affect the global economy and sort of let him take it from there. If your dad’s like mine, he might act annoyed about the date, but I know he actually loves it. Here’s a funny idea: tell him not to forget to sprinkle some extra love on the turkey and then watch him roll his eyes at you. Then remember that eye roll = love.
- Fight With Your Sister: Remember when you were little and your sister asked you to play with her and you said “ok, sure, lets play servant, you’re my servant now?” Well, in hindsight that wasn’t very nice. Whoops. I think this holiday season is the perfect opportunity to invite your sister to do something fun and cool with you (finally). Plan ahead and see if she wants to go to a boxing class together. Boxing classes are a great work out (super important to blast cals during the most fattening time of the year) and you’ll both leave feeling like Laila Ali. Making your sister feel like a badass is an ACE way to give back to her this holiday season. Maybe also mention that you love her, and you think that you both share the prettiest genes, and offer to take a selfie together and then actually post the selfie in a coveted spot on your actual IG feed (not just your IG story). Those steps will kind of seal the deal.
Giving Back to Friends:
- Slide into the DMs: Speaking of social media, you know how sometimes you’re scrolling through your feed and you notice that someone from your clique has posted a really awesome photo? And like 100 truly nice and respectful comments go through your head? But you choose to type out a mean/negative comment because it’s the funniest one (duh)? One way to make someone feel great this holiday season is to send a legit, honest, kind DM (sort of the opposite of online bullying). Noticing that your friend from college moved to NOLA and is killing it on that StudioHop lifestyle? Maybe shoot her a DM and say “BabyGirl, not trying to be creepy, but you look awesome! I have never seen you look so cut! #Fitspiration.” Did a long lost late-night-bar-bathroom-bestie just post a #PicturePerfect #PregnancyAnnouncement online? Maybe it’s time to send over a quick “CONGRATULATIONS! I saw your announcement and I am so happy for you! Based on the way you held my hair back in the Homebar bathroom 5 years ago, I know you’re going to be an amazing mom! But seriously, congratulations, can’t wait to see pics of your bundle of joy!” I know it seems silly, but these genuinely nice comments are a great way to give back to friends this giving season.
- Go Offline: I bet you and your friends do some pretty fun stuff. And by fun, I mean photogenic. This holiday season, give back to your friends by planning some phone-free activities. Maybe you can go “no make up” (AKA literally no make up, no concealer, no mascara, no blush) and have a girls night making chocolate dipped hot-coco spoons and drinking sparkling water out of old plastic cups that would never be cute enough for an instragram photo. And maybe you can just enjoy the time together without worrying about posting about it online. And maybe you can just bond and revel in the #girlpower and enjoy each other’s company and talk about how you’re not sure when it happened but your friends really do feel like your family now. Maybe there will be tears. Who knows?
- Check Up on Someone: The holidays are usually a pretty magical time. However, as we get older, life tends to get a little bit harder and more complicated. Do you know someone who recently lost a loved one? Check in on them. The holidays can be really hard for those who are morning the loss of a close friend or family member or who maybe has a loved one in the military or otherwise unable to come home for the holidays. So, reach out to them and maybe say something like “Hey! Wanted to see how you’re doing this holiday season. I know you’re probably missing your mom/grandparent/brother. Is there anything I can do? Sending love.” A small gesture like that can really go a long way. Along those same lines, if you know of someone who is near you and can’t make it home to their family for the holidays, maybe see if they can join you and yours instead. Give them a genuine invitation, encourage them to join you, and if they oblige, I bet you’ll both enjoy the time together!
The Pièce de Résistance:
- Schedule a Group Food Bank Volunteer Afernoon: Ever found yourself in the middle of “The Finisher” at the end of a tough work out class? When the instructor encourages everyone to do 60 seconds of burpees with push-ups to “burn it out” at the end of class? And you look around and sort of think “I’m too tired, so I’m just going to like stand here and pretend to stretch?” And then the super-beautiful-male-model instructor yells out “everyone remember, this is an awesome move because it works your arms, legs, and abs all in one!” And he is pretending like he is talking to everyone, but he is actually just looking directly at you? And then you think “Ugh, fine, I guess since it is such an efficient move, I’ll do it?” Well, if you’re looking for efficiency in giving back this holiday season, then I have the perfect solution. Call your bestie and your mom, and schedule a time to volunteer at a food bank this holiday season. You’re volunteering to help the needy (check), you’re getting in some phone-free time with your bestie (check, check), and your mom will feel super special to be hanging out with you and yours (check, check, check).