Reasons to Be Generous This Holiday Season

Have you ever felt the urge to be generous at Christmas? There’s a good reason why.

Think about the most popular Christmas films. They all have themes of being generous.

In A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge begins as a close-fisted man unwilling to give to any charitable causes, but upon being visited by three different spirits, he has a change of heart.

“I’ll send it to Bob Cratchit’s,” whispered Scrooge, rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh. “He shan’t know who sends it. It’s twice the size of Tiny Tim.”¹

In this scene, Scrooge is referring to the large turkey he plans to anonymously donate to the Cratchit family’s Christmas feast.

Let’s not forget How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

In this classic, The Grinch’s determination to ruin Christmas is thwarted because of a little Who child’s generosity.

Instead of stealing all their presents, he gives back their toys and feast, “And he…HE HIMSELF…! The Grinch carved the roast beast!”²

The reason these books and movies are classics is that they encourage us to be generous during a time of year when we need an extra reminder.

Consider the Tradition of Christmas Gift Giving

be generous

Essentially, when we give any gift (without expecting something in return), we are being generous.

The reason we strive to be generous is because of the history of gift giving.

The wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the baby Jesus. They did not expect to receive a gift in return.

It’s not just the Christmas story that inspires generosity.

The Legend of St. Nicholas is based on his being generous.

The Conversation explains, “It was St. Nicholas’s legendary status of generosity that gave rise to the modern-day tradition of Santa Claus. As the story goes, as a young boy, St. Nicholas was left with a substantial amount of inheritance when his parents died. He used this to help others, primarily the poor.”³

When kids receive gifts from Santa, he doesn’t expect gifts in return (except for milk and cookies, of course). 

It’s no wonder Christmas is a season of generosity.

Christmas Is a Season of Generosity

be generous defines generosity as “the spirit and action of freely and frequently giving to others. Generosity can also refer to an overall spirit of kindness.”⁴

When people talk about the spirit of Christmas, they are often referring to the spirit of generosity.

That’s why, in addition to the traditional gift giving, Salvation Army bell ringers stand outside doors. 

Charity Navigator reports, “The average annual household charitable donation is $2,520.”⁵

And most of these donations occur in December.

According to Neon One, “Nearly one third (31%) of annual giving occurs in December [and] 12% of all giving happens in the last three days of the year.”⁶

Another reason people choose to be generous in December is that charitable giving must take place by December 31t to qualify for tax deductions for the year.

Of course, there are many more reasons to be generous other than tax deductions.

  • Generosity Increases Happiness: Giving makes our hearts and brains happy. A 2008 study found people were happier when they gave money to others instead of spending it on themselves. Berkeley’s Greater Good adds, “Scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the ‘helper’s high.’”⁷  
  • Generosity Improves Health: Giving is good for our health. Berkeley’s Greater Good explains, “A 1999 study led by Doug Oman of the University of California, Berkeley, found that elderly people who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than were non-volunteers. […] Researchers suggest that one reason giving may improve physical health and longevity is that it helps decrease stress, which is associated with a variety of health problems.”⁸  
  • Generosity Inspires Others: Giving begets giving. People are more apt to give when they see or hear about someone else giving. Take the fast food drive-thru pay-it-forward events. When one person pays for the meal of the person next in line, it starts a chain reaction. For example, in December 2020, in Brainerd, Minnesota, a pay-it-forward chain lasted through 99 vehicles and $10,000 in sales.⁹ 

Be Generous Where It Matters

be generous

It’s important to note that some people are “generous to a fault.”

As much as we’d like everyone to be generous, you still should be wise with your finances. For example, maxing out a credit card on charitable donations isn’t smart.

One way to avoid this issue is to prepare to be generous.

Think about how much money you are able and willing to give, and carefully consider where you want to give.

Add it to your holiday budget next year. 

This will make it easier for you to say no when you are asked to donate because you will already know whom you plan to bless this year.

Similarly, know how much you plan to give and how you plan to give. 

For some, it is more meaningful to give gifts instead of money, such as donating to Toys for Tots.

For others, it is important to give to causes close to their hearts, like donating to a cancer foundation in honor of a loved one battling cancer.

While we are already right in the middle of the Christmas season, it’s advice you can still apply or put to good use next Christmas season.

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  1. Dickens, Charles. A Christmas carol . ed by Broadus, Edmund Kemper [Chicago, New York, Scott, Foresman and company, 1920] Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.
  2. Seuss. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. New York: Random House, 1985.
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