Here are three ways you can spread cheer while helping others during the holiday season.
CNN  — 

Doing good is actually good for you, studies show. So why not start some new holiday traditions that are both fun and altruistic?

Getting your loved ones together to assemble gifts for the less fortunate is easier than ever thanks to pre-assembled kits … and it’s a great family activity!

Gifts you can assemble

If your family would like to help a foster child this holiday season, Together We Rise is helping kids without permanent homes by providing colorful bags to tote their items around. (Many foster kids lug their worldly possessions around in trash bags.) They send you a panel to decorate, which you then send back. They attach each artwork panel to a duffel bag, which is stuffed with new hygiene items.

Kynd Kits are an activity for the whole family. You choose a cause or group of people important to you, and then request the corresponding kit.

Each kit will contain items specifically requested by people in those groups. You assemble the pieces together, write a card, then send it off. Among the recipients you can choose from this year: people undergoing chemotherapy, essential workers and people experiencing homelessness. has a similar business model. Finding soap and other personal care items can be tough for someone who is homeless, so why not order a hygiene kit, assemble it, and then send it off to someone who really needs it?

A family art project can brighten the walls at a long-term care facility. The Foundation for Hospital Art will send you a kit, complete with pre-drawn canvases and art supplies. You color it in, create one panel of your own design and send it back with the pre-addressed UPS label.

If you can knit or crochet, consider ordering a kit from Knots of Love. Their hats support patients going through chemotherapy, burn victims, brain surgery patients and head trauma patients.

Shopping for a child in need

The Salvation Army’s “Angel Tree” program is online this year, making it easier than ever to shop for a child in need. Just enter your zip code, add the requested items from their registry to your cart, and Salvation Army does the rest.

Buying local, buying small

The pandemic has hit small businesses especially hard so buying local will have a great impact this year.

Many small stores have an online presence or happily accept orders over the phone. Local craft fairs and farmers’ markets are another great place to find meaningful gifts that give cheer twice: to the small business owner and to the recipient.

And if you want to spend your money at a local bookstore instead of a big online retailer, consider buying from The web site partners with independent book sellers across the country to send your dollars to stores that really need it.