During the holidays it seems like your options for gifts are endless. Every store seems to be selling the next great product. But what if you want to give a more meaningful gift? Donating to a charity in honor of someone is a wonderful way to spread the holiday spirit and can be more personal than anything you buy at the mall.

A great place to start when donating as a gift is to think about what your loved one is passionate about. Perhaps they are a fan of music, donating to a charity that fosters the love of music in children is a great option. Or maybe they love animals; you could donate to their local animal shelter. Try to find charities and programs that would really speak to your family member or friend. It’ll show the time and effort you’ve put into finding the perfect place to donate in their honor.

Before donating do a little research to make sure the charity is reliable and your money will be properly used. There are many websites that grade charities and provide information about how they use their money. If a charity isn’t open about how it uses its funds find another one. You want your gift to make a difference and not get lost in the shuffle.

Presenting your charity gift can be just as special as unwrapping a box on Christmas morning. Gather some information about the charity and write a letter explaining why this group made you think of your loved one. You can roll the information up and tie it with a bow or place it in a colorful envelope. Your letter will be something your loved one will cherish.

You can start a new tradition this year by making donating a group effort. If you do a secret Santa with your family perhaps change it to a secret donator. Instead of exchanging material things everyone can donate in the name of their person. Or skip giving gifts with your spouse and make a contribution to a charity you both care about. During the holiday season everyone can get so wrapped up in material things. The spirit of giving can easily get lost when trying to find the new hot item. Donating to a charity is a way to spread holiday cheer and share something wonderful with those you love.