How to Make a Holiday Giving Tree

by Ruth de Jauregui

The spirit of giving infuses the holiday season, encouraging good-hearted people to share with those less fortunate than themselves. Some families make it an annual tradition to select a child, individual or family in need and provide food or gifts. Giving trees, placed in malls, churches, businesses or private offices, are one way to help local charities provide for the needy while ensuring that the gifts are delivered to the appropriate recipients.

Locate a Charity

When planning a giving tree, contact your local charities or social service agencies. Each agency has its own policies and procedures regarding charitable gifts and giving trees. Depending on the agency, you may be provided a list of first names, children's ages and desired gifts to make your own paper tags or ornaments for your giving tree. Other agencies may provide paper angels, stars or decorative tags with the child's name, sex and age information already filled in, ready to hang on the tree. In addition to the tags, which the donor takes and attaches to the gift, you should have a signup sheet or spreadsheet to track the donors' names, contact information and the recipient selected.

Set Up the Tree

Place the giving tree in a convenient location and assign a person to monitor the signup sheet or input the donors' names and contact information on a spreadsheet. Twinkle lights, garlands, bows, plastic ornaments and the paper tags provide a cheerful appearance to the public or employees. If the tree must be placed in a corner, keep the tags in the front, within easy reach of the donors. Create additional paper ornaments or bows with metallic paper or decorate them with glitter so that when a donor selects a recipient, you can replace the tag with a decorative ornament.

Track the Gifts

Place the gifts under the giving tree as they arrive, double-checking to ensure that the paper tags are securely fastened to the gift bag. Encourage the donors to use gift bags so that the charity or social services organization can check each gift before it is delivered to the recipient. Check each donor off the spreadsheet when the gift arrives and provide a charitable-donation receipt. A few days before the deadline, contact the remaining donors to ensure that the donation will arrive in a timely manner. In some cases, circumstances may have altered the donor's ability to give a gift. Assure the donor that the recipient will still receive a gift and make alternate arrangements.

Deliver the Gifts

While each organization has its own policy on gift deliveries, in general, you are expected to bring the giving tree gifts to a central location on a specific date. Provide your spreadsheet to the organization, with each gift checked off, and keep a copy for your records. The volunteers can then check each gift and the attached tag to ensure that clothing is the correct size and toys are age appropriate. Additional donations of cash and gift cards are welcomed to fill the gaps where gifts are lacking.

About the Author

With degrees in fine and commercial art and Spanish, Ruth de Jauregui is an old-school graphic artist, book designer and published author. De Jauregui also worked in the Napa Valley as a high-end catering assistant. She enthusiastically pursues creative and community interests, including gardening, home improvement, pet rescue and social issues.

Photo Credits

  • Laura Beth Drilling/Demand Media