The holiday season is here! If you're wondering how you’ll manage participating in the constant gift-giving that accompanies the holiday season while living on a City Year stipend, here are some tips. A strict budget does not mean you’ll miss out on the holiday celebrations! Take a look at a few ways to make the most out of this holiday season without breaking the bank.

Make crafts with your students

Many people love handmade gifts. Plan a special activity with your students to make gifts together. Paper or popsicle stick snowflakes allow your students to express and showcase their creativity. Their creations can be gifts to your fellow teammates, partner teachers, or to the students' family and friends.

Give your students snowflakes you've made especially for them and encourage them to hang up them at home, where they’ll be reminded of your support and care for them while you’re not in school together over the holidays. You can also make a homemade holiday cards with your students and write special messages for your students to keep them motivated over winter break. 

Bring in a sweet surprise for your partner teacher

Show your partner teacher an act of kindness and gratitude this holiday season by treating them to a tasty treat. Instead of hitting the bakery, you can make them baked goods along with a heartfelt note of appreciation and best wishes for the holiday season. If baking isn’t your thing, start to keep an eye and ear out for a pain point your teacher is having. Maybe the gift that your teacher will appreciate the most is making a poster that includes information she has to repeat to her students often, which can be made completely with supplies you’ll find at school!

Plan an adventure with your teammates

Having teammates doesn’t have to be about work all the time; make some time for fun, too! Break away from your daily routine and embark on a festive winter adventure with your teammates. During the holiday season, there are plenty of opportunities across our 28 City Year sites. Some examples include: free shows and concerts, Holiday tree lightings, free-ice skating events, outdoor winter markets, taking a stroll to find the best light displays in your neighborhood and attending free-public events for New Year’s eve. This is also an opportunity to embrace and learn about new traditions, whether your teammates share their own holiday traditions from their hometowns or you all learn new traditions of the city where you serve together!


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Lend a helping hand to your friends and family

Offer to do a favor for your family and friends as a gift to them this holiday season. You can offer to walk your friend’s dog, house sit for a family member who's going out of town, or take on some of those holiday chores for your parents, like wrapping presents or decorating the house for the holidays. 


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These are just a few ways that you can spread kindness and holiday cheer to your City Year and non-City Year families alike. What’s important to remember is that showing your loved ones you care this holiday season does not have to cost a lot, and sometimes costs nothing at all! The thought and care that goes into the homemade gift or act of kindness is what counts the most.

Share your own creative ideas on Twitter and Instagram and be sure to tag #makebetterhappen. You or your team could be featured next!

City Year AmeriCorps members have an adventure in the snow in their red jackets as they come up with creative ways to stretch their City Year stipend during the holiday gift-giving season

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