3-Ingredient Protein Pancakes

After many, many years on the internet, I have become the kind of person who regards “life hacks” and Pinterest/Instagram foods with suspicion. Sometimes, I just outright dismiss a lot of them. Make ice cream by blending frozen banana? That’s not ice cream, it’s just frozen banana? And yet there I was, very happily enjoying the soft-serve-esque texture of a blitzed-up frozen banana, begrudgingly admitting that the curated photos on social media didn’t lie this one time.

A similar recipe that I had many doubts about were the paleo-friendly 2-or-3 ingredient pancakes. In its simplest iteration, you mash up a banana with a beaten egg and fry up pancakes with the mixture — without it tasting like scrambled eggs with banana. I believe I attempted this once several years ago by beating an egg with a fork in a bowl and then mashing a banana into the egg with that fork. It was… meh.

But I kept seeing this recipe get touted over and over again, and other people’s photos of these pancakes looked a lot more like pancakes than my initial attempt.  Maybe I did something wrong? This recipe came back into my life as I started to remember why I am not the kind of person who is able to skip breakfast. These days, I am trying to be better about making sure I have a protein-filled breakfast so that I have fuel for when I do actually go work out in the mornings, since I have been feeling myself struggle a lot physically when I try to exercise on an empty stomach. I also feel myself thinking about lunch at about 10:30, which is pretty early to have your mind on lunch, if we’re all being honest here! While these pancakes are not allowed on Whole30, they are paleo, and I’ve found 2 added components have improved the entire process enough to make this a new breakfast staple for me:

  1. A blender (I use this super cheap personal blender)
  2. Protein powder 

The blender makes mixing it a much easier and smoother process, so I’m not left with a scrambly-egg + mushy-banana consistency. The protein powder makes it more like a pancake and less like banana-y eggs. I’ve also been adding spinach to the whole thing for a bit more nutrition. Occasionally I also add a bit of cinnamon to see if I can get any of its purported health benefits. I fry them up in some coconut oil (who am I…) and I have some healthy green protein-packed pancakes for breakfast so that I have some fuel in the morning!

Here’s the recipe, adapted from PaleOMG:

  • 1 ripe banana – the browner and riper, the sweeter!
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 scoops of vanilla/chocolate protein powder
  • Coconut oil (or oil/fat of your choosing)
  • Optional: handful of spinach
  • Optional: pinch of cinnamon
  • Optional: pinch of baking soda

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  1. In a blender, pulse your eggs and banana until you have a smooth, consistent mixture.
  2. Add in your protein powder, starting with 1 scoop and adding 2 if the consistency is too liquid, depending on the size of your banana and eggs. (You want the batter to be a bit viscous.)
  3. If the mixture is still fairly runny with the added protein powder, add a bit of baking soda to help add fluffiness and rise to your pancakes.
  4. Add spinach and/or cinnamon if you’d like green pancakes or a teeny bit of warmth.
  5. In a non-stick pan, heat a small amount of coconut oil.
  6. When the oil is hot, pour small dollops of the pancake into the pan to form 3- or 4-inch wide pancakes. Since they will be runnier than your traditional pancake batter, keeping them small helps them cook through a bit faster and makes them easier to flip.
  7. After about a minute, flip the pancake to the other side; you’ll know it’s ready to flip when the edges are browning and the batter on top is becoming a bit less funny.
  8. Cook on the other side for 30-45 seconds, remove from the pan, and place on some paper towel to get rid of any excess oil.
  9. Serve plain or with syrup, jam, whatever pancake accoutrements your heart desires.


Clean eating green pancakes, a similar recipe from Emily at LouisianaBrideBlog

Have you ever tried a recipe you saw online and didn’t think would work only to be pleasantly surprised?
Are there any super popular internet recipes you think I should try? I haven’t tried very many of them but after some recent successes, I’m trying to have an open mind! Trying to get back into cooking more for myself, and prepping breakfasts and lunches in advance, so any recipe suggestions would be so appreciated!

A lot of things have been happening in the news that are difficult to ignore. I try to keep the tone on this blog positive and upbeat, not only for you, my handful of readers, but so that I have something positive to reflect on myself. Please know that I am staying informed, staying vigilant, and staying active in supporting a world that is good for more people than it was before. 

5 Ways to Be a Good Valentine – To Yourself

February is primarily known for one big commercial holiday and that is, of course, Valentine’s Day. People’s attitudes towards Valentine’s Day changes as time goes on, from anticipating getting all those little cards featuring your favorite TV cartoon holding lollipops from everyone in your class to the promotions you get in your email inbox featuring all things pink and flowers and chocolate.

At this point, I think many of us don’t think too much of Valentine’s Day, regardless of relationship status. February 15 discounts on heart-shaped candy aside, some people don’t think there’s much to get excited about. And maybe there isn’t.

But I think that a month and a half after the start of the new year — another arbitrary marker of the passing of time, yes I know, go with it — it’s nice to reflect on the goals we made for 2017 but also to take some time to be consciously kind to ourselves.

Whether you love this day or hate it, have someone to share romantic feelings with or not, Valentine’s Day is a good time to check in with yourself and make sure you feel some love. Why not take the day (or the weekend before the day) to treat yo self?


Here are 5 suggestions for how to be your own Valentine this year:

Take a bath / Soak your feet


Taking a bath is one of those things that has become cliché in its association with self-care and self-indulgence but for good reason! It just feels so nice, even if you don’t add in all the little extras like bubbles and rose petals and bath bombs etc. etc. etc. Submerging your body in warm/hot water is just a physically relaxing sensation for your muscles and nerves.

HOWEVER. Maybe you don’t have a bit ol’ bathtub. Maybe you do but the prospect of making it clean enough for a bath is giving you a headache? (Guilty here!) In that case, just do a nice little foot soak. I do this in one of those wide, shallow plastic bowls (they always have a stack of these colorful things in Asian groceries) but sometimes I’ll also just do it in my bathroom sink if I have room to sit my butt on the counter beside it.

There’s no need to buy anything extra for a bath or foot soak. You can literally just soak in warm-to-hot water, or add in some soap/body wash to add some soapy cleaning power to the water. If you’d like to buy yourself a little somethin’, look into:

  • Bath salts
  • Bubble bath
  • Bath oils
  • Bath bombs

And make sure to use a lotion you love afterwards! It locks in the good feeling you got in the bath for a little longer, and it’s like a little massage for yourself.

(And fellas, you treat yourselves to a bath, too, or at least a foot soak.)

Have a dance party (for one)


If you have a space to yourself, either put on some earbuds/headphones or turn up your speakers, and rock out to your favorite groove-able music for a bit! If you don’t but you don’t mind sharing your dance party with others, then invite your roommates, family members, whoever to join you in the dancing!

You got your favorite music. You got dancing, which feels good because something something exercise and also music! And you’re dancing for the sake of dancing. You’re not going out, buying drinks, paying cover, getting jostled by sweaty people, losing your friends, finding a ride, etc. etc. etc.

It’s just dancing. Wear whatever you want. Dance however you want. To whatever music you want. Enjoy it!

Eat a nice meal (for one)


You can do this by either a) cooking a beautiful meal for yourself or b) taking yourself on a solo date but you deserve to have some lovely food for yourself.

If you enjoy cooking, then why not make yourself a spectacular meal at home? Make your favorite meal, or make something a little special that maybe you normally wouldn’t spend the time on for just yourself. You deserve it, you really do. (Apologize to future self for the dishes.)

If you enjoy eating out a lot more, take yourself out to eat. This is a little scary, but it’s not as weird as it seems. Bring a book, sit at the bar if one is available, and finally eat at the spot you want to without working so hard to find someone who is free and wants to eat the same thing.

The solo date feels a bit weird, even if you do it at home, but I think it’s important to treat yourself like the important person in your life that you are. And to be able to enjoy your own company and treat that time like the, well, treat that it is. (Yes, even us extroverts!)

PLUS you get to eat whatever you want! Breakfast for dinner? Food combinations that your loved ones judge you for liking? That restaurant that your friends don’t like because the food is too “weird” but you love so much? Go. Eat. Be merry.

I understand that this can be limited by budget, so feel free to also scale this idea back and just indulge in some of your favorite snacks or junk food — in moderation. Junk food will make you feel pretty crummy inside if you eat too much of it, so feel free to indulge in chocolate or chips or fries or pizza… just not too much! And do it mindfully. Don’t just demolish a bag of popcorn while binge-watching. Just sit with a small bowl of your food, and enjoy it and nothing else.

Go to a museum / art gallery / aquarium / zoo


If you have free admission to any of these institutions in your area (thank you, Smithsonian, for existing), I definitely recommend trying this out one of these days. If not, I would still suggest trying to visit one near you and to visit alone. These outings can be really fun with friends as a social activity, but I get the most out of the museum/gallery itself when I visit alone.

This is because I am able to go at my own pace, read every single placard, visit every nook and cranny. I can also just sit in one spot for a while, people-watching, painting-watching, fish-watching, monkey-watching… it’s nice to just slow down and take it all in.

I do feel like I get more of an educational value from museums and galleries and aquariums and zoos when I go alone, even if I go on a “free day” that the place is hosting and there are a lot of people swarming the joint.

Really make your bed and sleep in / take a nap


Wash your sheets, with your favorite scented laundry products if you can. (Sorry. Just do it, you’ll thank yourself later.) While you wait for your bed linens to wash and dry, get yourself ready. Brush your teeth, wash your face, go through a full skincare routine if you’d like (another great way to treat yourself on its own!). Take a shower (or a bath!) if you typically shower before you sleep. Put on your coziest pajamas, or your softest T-shirt, or get ready to sleep in your birthday suit — whatever you sleep in to maximize feeling good in your bed.

Make your bed with your favorite sheets, make it real nice. Smooth it out, fluff up your pillows, actually tuck your comforter into the cover. Maybe spritz it with a nice calming scent. (Apparently they make sprays just for the bed!) Go ahead and invite your cuddliest stuffed animal to your bed if you don’t want to sleep completely alone.

Climb into your warm, fresh-smelling bed. Put on a little eye mask if you are sleeping during the day or just need to shut out any distracting lights. (I use one of those free ones that I get on planes or from hotels.) Maybe play some white noise or some quiet, calm instrumental music or some nature sounds like ocean waves, rain falling, rivers flowing.

If you’re taking a nap, set an alarm so that you’re waking up at the end of a sleep cycle and so that you don’t accidentally take a 4-hour nap in the middle of the day. (Oops, I can’t be the only one?)

If you are sleeping in and are able to, turn off all your alarms and turn off your phone notifications. Maybe set your phone to silent. Maybe put your phone far from your bed.

Definitely do not look at your phone before you fall asleep. Don’t check social media. Don’t check the news. Don’t watch a video. The most you should be doing it setting alarms, if necessary, and maybe playing any sleep sounds.

Enjoy your sleep the best you can.

These suggestions are meant to make you feel better afterwards. Indulging in a lot of alcohol and junk food and “bad television” might feel good when you’re doing it, but you usually don’t feel good after. I want the good feelings leftover from treating yourself to linger on afterwards.

I also tried to think of things you could do without spending a ton of money on yourself, or spending none at all if possible. Sure, it’d be great if we could all just take ourselves on a fly vacation, but that’s not an option for most of us. You don’t need to spend money to treat yourself well. (Sarah over at YesAndYes.org has a great list of things you can do for yourself that don’t involve eating or buying.)

What are your favorite ways to treat yourself? I like to go through my maximum skincare routine, masks and serums and all, and then enjoy a nice cup of decaf Earl Grey with some vanilla milk-alternative and some kind of little cookie or pastry. (Got some frozen mini eclairs in the freezer that can thaw while I do my face!)
Do you have any fun Valentine’s Day plans?
I know that there are a lot of activities going on in the DC area and I have a fairly packed Saturday so I will try to take Sunday as a day to treat myself.

Ready for the Year of the Rooster?

Depending on where you are, tomorrow, January 28, marks the first day of the Lunar New Year! And according to the Chinese zodiac, this will be the year of the Rooster.

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I’m going home to my parents’ tonight for 年夜饭 nianyefan, New Year’s Eve dinner, sometimes known as the Reunion dinner. It’s one of the biggest parts of every Chinese New Year celebration, as it is when the whole family gathers and eats a lot of delicious foods. While talking with my boyfriend about how our families celebrate Chinese New Year, I thought about all the little traditions that make this time of year special. Sometimes, I feel very at odds with my cultural traditions if only because I am unfamiliar with them. When I go back to China, everyone grows up doing these things year after year to the point where it is no longer something that has to be explained. Things are just known among Chinese people. (Thanks in small part to how viral articles can get on WeChat!)

My family isn’t actually very traditional, as far as Chinese families go, so many traditions I have picked up along the way outside of my own home, whether from other people’s families or through reading about celebrations in other homes. So to brief you (and myself!) for the upcoming new year and the year of the rooster, here are just a few ways I am prepping for Chinese New Year:

  • 腊八 – While I was in China, we were able to celebrate Laba, which is the 8th day of the last month of the lunar year. You eat laba congee, which is full of lots of goodies, notably cured meats or larou, in Chinese. I believe it has something to do with saving fresh meat for the new year and using up any cured meats before the start of the year? But I actually have no idea.
  • Family time – My mom works full time in China and is guaranteed 2 holidays every year to take a week off to come home: National Day (the anniversary of the first day of the People’s Republic of China) and Chinese New Year. I make sure that I am home during this time and have extra hours put in at work so that I can spend more time at home with her, my dad, and my brother, as well as any extended family we may be able to see.
  • Cleaning – I first learned this on Mister Rogers, funnily enough, but while you are supposed to do a big clean-up before the new year to cleanse the home of last year’s bad luck and make room for new, good luck, you are not supposed to clean on the day of the new year. If you do, you risk cleaning out all the fresh good luck that just arrived! For this reason, you also can’t sweep outwards or throw anything away.
  • Haircuts – My dad clearly didn’t know this when he searched for an open salon in China 2 years ago for me to get a haircut, but you are not supposed to cut your hair on the new year. Many Chinese traditions (and jokes) revolve around wordplay, and the Chinese word for hair sounds like the word for prosperity. Therefore, you don’t want to cut off any of the fresh new year prosperity!
  • Red, red, everywhere – If you are unsure what to wear on Chinese New Year, wear red. A lot of it. Fresh duds are a good idea, too, so if you have a new red sweater, there is no better time to bust it out than on the Lunar New Year. Red is a lucky color and you’ll be seeing it everywhere, from the lanterns to the papercut patterns to the red envelopes. Speaking of which…
  • Red envelopes! – 红包 hongbao are one of the hallmarks of Chinese New Year for children because they get to collect money from their elders! As an adult with a job, I no longer expect to receive little red envelopes with super crisp $20 bills in them anymore. (The bills are always crisp because people get fresh bills from the bank for this purpose. You’ll see that this freshness is one of the themes of Chinese New Year traditions.) Although people will still give me 红包 despite my age and employment status, I think I may actually be responsible for giving out red envelopes now? Last year, we purchased a pack of envelopes to prepare for stuffing, so if you will be attending festivities with children, I’d prepare by picking up some red envelopes and popping over to the bank to get some crisp bills.
  • Foods to include – As with any holiday anywhere, there are a lot of traditional foods that go with Chinese New Year, including:
    • Dumplings: Popular in northern China because their shape resembles old Chinese money
    • 年糕 Rice cakes: Literally niangao is year cakes, but I like to think it’s another play on words because they are very sticky and the word for sticky in Chinese sounds like the word for year. These are almost always prepared in a savory dish. It has a second wordplay meaning in that the word for cake sounds like the word for increasing, so the phrase sounds like increasing [prosperity] by the year.
    • Fish: Another play on words, the Chinese adage 年年有余 means “may there be a surplus every year” and sounds like “may there be fish every year”. I learned last year that my boyfriend’s family will prepare fish but they tend to leave it so as to have as much of a surplus of the fish (surplus) as possible. (Oops sorry for eating it, it looked so yummy!) Fish is, to me, a mandatory Chinese New Year food. All other things you can have one or the other, but this one you gotta have.
  • Firecrackers + fireworks – Depending on where you are, these may not factor into your celebration, but a large Chinese community (think Chinatowns) will definitely see some firecrackers and there’s a good chance you’ll see fireworks somewhere, regardless of how legal they are where you live. These are super dangerous and have caused an incredible amount of damage in China, but you know, they scare off demons trying to sneak in with all the fresh good luck while you sealeup your house to keep them the heck outta there. Bring ear plugs if you suspect explosions to occur; tinnitus does not bring good luck with it.
  • Lantern festival – Very traditionally, in some places, you celebrate the Lunar New Year, aka the Spring Festival, over 15 days. FIFTEEN. Each day, with it’s own traditions! The 15th day of the new year is the Lantern Festival, 元宵节 yuanxiaojie. On this day, you eat little glutinous rice balls called 汤圆 tangyuan or 元宵 yuanxiao, named for the 15th day holiday that you eat them on! And yes, there be lanterns.

Also, the year of the Rooster is the 本命年 benmingnian for people born in other years of the Rooster. It is actually a tricky time if it’s your 本命年, which I learned during my own 本命年 2 years ago, because essentially a lot of luck becomes focused on you – good and bad. This is the reason why my mother became very obsessed with buying me a red belt, and I heard a lot of talk about red belts for our family Roosters when I went back home to China as well. HOWEVER you can’t buy it for yourself? My mom was very firm about this, she wouldn’t leave without getting me something red and wouldn’t let me find something later on. So if you are turning a multiple of 12 (12, 24, 36, 48 60, etc.) this year, be mindful! You may find a lot of luck coming your way, so try to make sure it’s all good luck by wearing a lot of red and maybe some jade jewelry.

Overwhelmed? Don’t be! There are a lot of traditions but the most important thing is family and friends. You are trying to start the year off on the right foot by welcoming prosperity and fortune into your life with open arms.

And we do this by eating a lot of delicious food!

新年快乐!恭喜发财!Happy New Year, everyone!

Do you celebrate the Lunar New Year?
What are your favorite New Year foods/traditions?

6 Places to Start Your Gift Search

For a lot of people, December brings about a lot of gift anxiety. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I put a lot of pressure on myself to buy gifts for people. Either I know them really well, so I want to make sure the gift is something personal that reflects how well I know them, or I don’t have a close, personal relationship but still want to make a nice gesture without being too weird about it. For some folks, you know exactly what to get them. But more often than not, the holiday season comes around and we’re not sure what to get for our managers, our extended family, our children’s teachers…
And gift exchanges can also be their own can of worms.

Finding the right store to look for a gift can make or break your gift-buying excursion. A lot of very different stores often have a gifts section that is great to look at. If you don’t want to buy something from that section, it might give you a great idea with regards to a gift you can get!

Places that I find myself visiting —online or in-person— even if I don’t buy anything, are:
(Note: I tried to include screenshots that have products for both genders, as some of the gift pages tend to be geared towards female recipients.)

TJ Maxx / Marshall’s / Ross

Discounted department stores are one of my favorite places to start looking for gifts. In December, in particular, they will start keeping lots of easy-to-gift items at the front of the store. It can be easy to get overwhelmed because of the variety, but some items you can look for – depending on the people you are shopping for – include:

  • Fitness, e.g.  yoga mats, foam rollers, water bottles
  • Self-care, e.g. face masks, sleeping masks, hot water bottles for aches and pains
  • Pets!, e.g. the large selection of pet toys that are available
  • Food & drink, e.g. a specialty coffee or snack

This is also a really great stop if you have a budget limit for your gift, like if your white elephant has a $10 cap on it.

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You can start your search online for ideas as well. This is from the new arrivals page on TJMaxx.com


I love browsing ThinkGeek when it comes to my nerdy friends and/or my friends who are really into a particular movie franchise/TV show/video game. Even if I am not familiar with the fandom itself, I can get some inspiration as to what kind of merchandise is available for it and what people are interested in buying. You can get anything from T-shirts and mugs to more specific gifts to the interest. When my friends get really into a video game, or I often discuss shows like Game of Thrones or Doctor Who with them, I go to ThinkGeek and start getting ideas for what kinds of things to get. Even if you don’t think your gift recipient has any super nerdy interests, you might still find something that’s just really cool to receive!

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Here’s a selection of their best-selling gifts

Urban Outfitters

I have never purchased clothing from UO but I love browsing the gifts and non-clothing items they have. They have books, candles, cute kitsch, or Instax cameras, but because the collection is so eclectic, you can also get ideas for gifts to look for elsewhere if nothing specific jumps out at you. Stuff I’ve gotten for gifting include really cute Korean skincare products and a grow-your-own bonsai tree kit! It’s one of my favorite places to browse for gifts and get ideas.

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A selection from the under $12 section of their gifts page


The store is more geared towards women, but their gift section is really cute. This is also a really good place to look if you have a bride-to-be in your life, as they always have some great gifts for brides in the store, as well as the incredible cat-themed section of the gifts table. If you are shopping for someone who really embraces how they fulfill some “basic” stereotypes, you might want to check out Francesca’s.

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A lot of great gifts categorized by interest

Barnes & Noble

Definitely a good place to look for a book lover in your life, but they also have a lot of other things you can look through as well. Not only do they have a lot of craft + skill books (e.g. origami books, recipe books, etc.) that are great for gifting, but they have board games, figurines, puzzles, journals, planners, book accessories, and tables of themed gift-type items! Around this time of year, they are usually Christmas-themed items. One year, I got a cute mug with peppermint hot cocoa mix and a teensy little whisk.

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An interesting mix of gifts that is organized by interest

Drugstores (CVS, RiteAid, Walgreen’s)

The gift aisle of drugstores is king for two types of gifts for sure: mug sets and face/body sets (e.g. lotion + body wash, nail polish sets, etc.) . In recent years, I’ve seen the sets get less generic and more fun! For example, one year, I got Ben a Darth Vader-shaped mug that was filled with Hershey kisses. We were more interested in the mugs, so I ended up getting the rest in the Star Wars collection of head-shaped mugs. They have a lot of different gifts, so you might be surprised by what you can find that is a safe gift for someone you don’t know as intimately, for a white elephant gift exchange, or to donate to a gift drive. It’s also another reliable spot if you’re looking for a gift within a stricter price range.

So the next time you need to buy a gift for someone and have no clue where to start, try checking out of the six spots I mentioned above. I also really like browsing curated gift guides by bloggers and larger websites because they can have a lot of great ideas for gifts as well!

If you’re still having trouble, comment below and tell me what kind of person you’re shopping for or what kind of gift you are looking for and I’ll try to direct you to a place or a gift guide to start you search!

Do you have any go-to places when it comes to buying gifts when you don’t have a specific item in mind?



I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving holiday and was able to take advantage of sales to get some gifts for your friends, family, and yourself!

If you are able to spend a little more time and money, please consider #GivingTuesday. 2016 has been a pretty crazy year (remember when we all wished 2015 would end?), but I think that sitting and feeling crummy about it for more than a few minutes isn’t the way to go. This year, I have been trying to at least actively think about what I can actually do to make the world a better place, rather than just thinking about how it isn’t better yet.

Giving is so important, especially during the holidays when those who are without may feel it more acutely. It connects us to other people and adds a little more goodness into our world that so desperately needs as much as it can get.

According to GivingTuesday.org:

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

One of the best ways to get involved is in your own community. We’ve created a directory to help you find organizations, charities, events and more in your own community.

If you aren’t sure how or where to give, GivingTuesday.org has some resources to help you get started. To break down how you can give, roughly in order of time commitment, you can:

  1. Donate money – This can be a one-time donation or you can set up a regular donation with an organization you care a lot about. Think local if you can, as you can often more easily make a large impact on your local community, and you may be able to more readily see that impact yourself! GivingTuesday.org has a great resource to help you get started with finding local organizations. Even if you’re only able to donate a small amount of money, it counts. If you’re just saving pennies from your change to donate, it counts.
  2. Donate items – Whether you are leaving boxes of old clothes outside your house or organizing a canned food drive, giving items can be a really impactful way to give. I highly urge you to think a little bit outside the box with your donations. Check out this list as a place to start with items that are in high demand, and also please consider picking up extra feminine hygiene products to donate! It’s something that gets overlooked because we don’t like thinking about it, but imagine how difficult it is to not like thinking about it and not having options when you have to.
  3. Volunteer – One of the most valuable assets we are able to give is our time, along with our energy. A lot of folks will volunteer at soup kitchens on Thanksgiving, and I’d love to see that continue on. Sometimes volunteer work isn’t fun or glamorous, but you just need to remind yourself that you are giving your time for the sake of someone else and not for the sake of your own personal enjoyment. For example, I once volunteered at a pet shelter with a group that was disappointed to learn that we were not volunteering to play with dogs! Because the shelter really needed us to help with wiping things down and filing folders away, so that’s what we helped them do. You can do one-time activities or find a cause that you want to give your time to more often.
  4. Do pro bono work – Check Taproot+ to see what skills you can give and what organizations need. As a Ruby developer, I can recommend Ruby For Good, which gets Ruby devs together to work on projects for non-profits that can’t afford to spend their limited budgets on hiring developers to put together great tech solutions that they may really need. There are a lot of ways to work pro bono for organizations, and that can be an immensely valuable way to give your time and energy to groups in need.

Another thing you can do is make your purchase with an organization that gives back. Here are a few lists to start with, if you still need to buy any gifts. Giving a gift that gives back is nice because the recipient knows the impact of your gift is goes beyond him/herself and that’s very special.

When in doubt, reach out and ask how you can best help. The folks at the organization you are thinking of will know best what they need the most if you’re not sure whether you should be giving money or items or your time and know that you can’t do all three. And if you aren’t able to give any of those right now, think about at least giving these organizations your attention. Be aware of what their goals are and maybe promote them and how other people can help them through social media, so that someone in your network who is looking to give but isn’t sure how can get a little nudge in the right direction.

Sometimes giving can feel very overwhelming. You might need to research the charity you are giving to, to make sure it’s legitimate and using most (if not all) of their proceeds for the actual cause itself. (When in doubt, check Charity Navigator.)

What I find makes regular giving a little easier is not to think about it. I know this is counter-intuitive to what I just said about actively giving organizations your attention, but what I mean is try your best to automate your giving so that you don’t need to actively think about it – it just happens. Two ways I do this are through Amazon Smile, which lets you give by allowing Amazon to donate a proceed of your purchase prices to an organization of your choice, and Tab for a Cause, which donates a little bit for every new tab you open in exchange for showing you some ads that fund those donations. (I also just really love Tab for a Cause as a new tab page with handy widgets on it.) With these two tools, I am able to give a little bit without even having to change my routine. I just make my Amazon purchases at smile.amazon.com and keep opening a bazillion tabs and I am still able to do a little good.

What organizations will you give your attention, and possibly more, to this #GivingTuesday?
What was your best experience with giving? Remember that you can give to one single person and it still counts – a lot! As cheesy as it sounds, as long as you can help one person, you are making the world a better place.