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Holiday Help, Resources, and Activities

The holiday season can be a time for increased stress on families, whether it be additional tension in already difficult living conditions; increasing anxiety about how to pay for necessities—rent, food, utilities—as well as some modest gifts; how to pay for additional childcare while their school-age children are out on break; or how to provide something as simple as a holiday meal.

Maya Angelou once shared that “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” The holidays are a time to reconnect, to break bread with one another, whether it be over a dinner table, or at a community meal, and a time to share experiences rather than things. The Journal of Consumer Research published a study showing that giving a child an experience as a gift instead of a thing, forges stronger bonds and memories. Another study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, demonstrated that people enjoy greater well-being from life experiences and consider them to be a better use of finances. The bottom line is that the stress behind consuming things can be mitigated with help from our WIC community.

This month, WIC Can Help provides resources on programs that families can consider for additional help so that the holiday season can be about spending quality time together and creating positive memories. There will also be ideas on activities families can enjoy without stressing their finances, like a free or low-cost family outing, or creating holiday crafts they can make and gift using common items in their own home.

What Local Agencies Can Do:

1. Become familiar with local family resources for holiday assistance to low-income families. Understand what community partners provide meals and gifts for children, families, Veterans, and families of those who are incarcerated.

2. Get to know your local events calendars to help WIC participants identify age-appropriate activities and outings, that are free for families in your area.

3. Make this information available on flyers, posters, event boards, and calendars posted in your offices or on your website where possible. Share with WIC families in waiting areas, at intake or in regular appointments.

4. Consider offering a Holiday Crafting and/or Cooking class so that WIC families can spend time together and make gifts to share with their loved ones.

5. Let CWA know what information and referral strategies and materials work best for you, so we can improve this page and inspire other local agencies.


  • NEW! Planning for a happy Christmas for your family can be a very scary and anxious time if they lack the financial resources to properly celebrate with their children. Thankfully, not-for-profit agencies in cities and towns across the United States recognize this reality. In anticipation of this, many of these organizations come together during the holiday season to offer assistance to low-income families needing a bit of help to celebrate the holidays. Here are tips on the process and you can find your local agency by visiting United Way.
  • NEW! Tens of thousands of volunteers, donors, and supporters advance the Make-A-Wish® vision to grant the wish of every child diagnosed with a critical illness.
  • The Salvation Army provides the Angel Tree Program, Grocery and Food Assistance, Bill-Pay Assistance, and Holiday Events.
  • Check your local 211 directory to see what holiday assistance resources are available in your area.
  • The California Department of Social Services hosts a List of Food Banks and you can also find a food bank at the California Association of Food Banks. Most food banks put together the ingredients for holiday meals to help families in need.
  • California Free Museum Days are a fun way to get together as a family and visit cultural and historical sites, special interest and kid-friendly museums that won’t hurt the pocket book. Most museums also offer free interactive children’s’ activities.
  • Free and Nearly Free Kids’ Events is a great list of statewide events to consider for the holiday season and year-round.
  • 103 Things to Do on A Money-Free Weekend is a great list of ways to have fun and not spend money.
  • Holiday Meals and Toy Drives for Military Families from Operation Homefront helps our veterans and their families.
  • The USPS Operation Santa Program has a program in certain areas where the general public is invited to “adopt” Santa letters.
  • AARP’s Create the Good provides guidelines (originally from The Holiday Project) to lead a group visit to long-term care facilities to help children and adults who live in nursing homes, hospitals, and other residential institutions celebrate the holidays.
  • The Christmas Spirit Foundation delivers trees for military families.
  • Need ideas for crafting? Take a look at this list of 17 Impressive DIY Gifts You Can Make With Things From Around The House or DIY Projects for Junk Around Your House. Find plenty of crafting projects for kids with this list of 13 Crafts for Kids to Make With 3 Supplies or Less, and PBS Parents has a wonderful list of Crafts for Kids that can be done with the entire family, which also incorporates conversations about science and art.
  • Toys for Tots is a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve which distributes toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them.
    Toys for Tots – Southern Division
    Request a Toy