All the awesome, no-brainer ways to give back this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving isn’t just about eating for five hours straight and then napping until you can eat a little more. Okay, maybe it mostly is —but it’s also about showing your appreciation for others. It’s about making people feel good, and helping out those who need it most. Thanksgiving, above all, is a time to be grateful for the people in our lives. And we can show that thanks and gratitude with a little bit of selflessness and creativity on our part.

So, if you’re looking for ways to do someone a solid or two this Thanksgiving, here are some ideas:

Write a story with a younger family member

Or paint with them. Or take pictures together in your backyard. Whatever it is, you’re encouraging them to tap into their artistic selves, and that kind of passion and knowledge is truly priceless.

Offer to give your mom a DIY “spa” day

Make your mom feel like a total princess by giving her feet a good rub after she’s soaked them in your DIY foot bath (which you can fill with bubble bath, rose petals, or milk and sugar —which sounds weird, but it actually makes your skin super, super soft), and painting her nails. Go the extra step and create a facial mask from honey and cinnamon —the results are divine.

Babysit for free

Let your siblings or neighbor or friend finally get the chance to do date night kid-free. They deserve the break, and playing with little kids for a couple hours will probably help you relax and take some time to de-adult for awhile.

Donate some books

I have like two boxes worth of anthologies and novels from college I will probably never read again. I LOVE my books so much, but I know there are others out there who will would enjoy reading them for the first time.

Make a super cool playlist for your bestie just for fun

Everyone loves getting introduced to some new tunes, or becoming reacquainted with our fave ’90s songs (“Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia, anyone?). Get a little nostalgic with your BFF and fill her in on some new bands you’ve become totally obsessed with recently.

Visit the shelter and play with some pups

Shelters make me super sad, because I know so many of the animals there won’t be adopted. And I want to adopt ALL of the animals, I really do —but I live in a small apartment and that just not feasible. And I think that goes for most of us. Next best thing? Keep those dogs and cats entertained and happy while they wait to be adopted. Come in and, if you can, play fetch, or just give their bellies a good scratch!

Speaking of the shelter. . .you could make some DIY kitty toys for some playful kitties

Cats love anything dangly and seemingly vulnerable. You can seriously make the perfect cat toy by just tying a feather to a shoestring. Check out all these DIY cat toy projects and make a few for your feline buddies.

Put together a birthday bag for a child in need

Too many kids don’t get anything on their birthday, and that’s horribly sad. Make some cutie’s day by picking up a few small trinkets and some candy at Target, Visit Cheer Givers for more instructions!

Bake some cookies and bring them to work

Umm, hello? Cookies (or basically anything with sugar and butter, let’s be real) are the best surprise, ever. No matter how crappy of a day your co-workers are having, you will instantly brighten their lives with your homemade peanut-butter blossoms.

Volunteer at a local school or tutoring center

A lot of schools don’t have the funding to hire professionals to help students with their homework, and generally rely on volunteers. Apply your smarts at a local elementary school or high-school!

Give your server a monster tip

It’s always super heartwarming to read about people who surprise their servers with insanely generous tips just for the heck of it. I served all throughout college, and it was not an easy job. Especially during the holidays, everyone is scrambling for any extra money, and that means taking on double shifts and overtime, which is hard, hard work. Even tipping 23% instead of the 15-20% you usually dole out at the end of the night is helpful and awesome of you.

Gather ALL of the cans and un-opened bags of food you have in your kitchen and donate them

Admit it —you probably have like at least five cans of kidney beans or peas or Campbell’s soup you forgot to use. We all overspend and overbuy, so de-clutter your kitchen and help feed the hungry by getting rid of all those unwanted cans.

Go through your jewelry and give your little cousin or niece all of those plastic, gaudy pieces you never wear

Face it: you’re not going to wear that six dollar statement necklace from Forever 21. Give it to someone who can use it when they play dress-up, or Princesses. You’ll make that kid one happy, blinged-out royal.

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