10 Ways to Artistically Give Back this Season

Whether or not you celebrate a specific holiday during the winter months, it’s easy to agree that the focus on giving is a positive thing. We often give of our personal time or money, but what about helping your students give back using your classroom as a vehicle? Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Below are 10 ways you and your students can artistically give back this season.

give back this season
1. Make festive cards and send them to a local veterans’ hospital or nursing home.

2. Ask your local grocery store to donate a paper bag for each student. Have students decorate the bags with winter designs, then give them back to the grocery store to use with customers. (Note: For this tip and 49 others to spread the word about your art program, check out this article.)

3. Have students make paper snowflakes during art class. Consider using colored paper, sequins, glitter (if you’re a fan), or other embellishments to make them extra special. Then, sneakily hang them in a common area one day after school to surprise everyone the next morning.

4. Have students create artwork for underappreciated staff members in your school. Think educational assistants, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and more. Deliver the artwork with hot chocolate and a big smile.

5. Teach students how to properly wrap gifts and curl ribbon. Then, partner with a local charitable organization to wrap gifts for families in need.

6. Have students sell simple handmade items and donate the proceeds to a local food pantry.

7. Organize a knit-a-thon to create hats, mittens and scarves for students in need.

8. Help out local wildlife. Research birds in your area that need homes for the winter. Have students collaboratively paint birdhouses to place on school grounds.

9. Have your students participate in the Memory Project, where art students create portraits for children in tough situations around the world.

10. Make a list of locations that sell work by local artists. Post it on your classroom blog or website and in the teachers’ lounge to encourage others to support artists this season.
We all know that making art makes us feel great. Why not take it a step further and use art to make others feel great too? It will be a wonderful lesson for your students and something they’re sure to remember.

Do you do any service learning projects in your classroom? 

What other ideas do you have to add to the list?


Amanda Heyn

Amanda is the Senior Editor at AOE. She has a background in teaching elementary art and enjoys working to bring the best ideas from the world of art ed to the magazine each day. 


  • Mr. Post

    8. “Research birds in your area that need homes for the winter.”

    I checked with a local bird realtor (Mrs. Sparrow) and she said the market is a sellers’ market right now.

    Apparently there was a surplus of twigs several years ago and so there was a nest building boom. Then when the seed market dropped it rippled into the nesting sector and glutted the market with low-cost nests driving prices down. Banks have finally sold off all of their underwater nests and so birds with eggs on the way are having a hard time finding move-in ready nests – and so prices are climbing. It’s a supply and demand market and right now nest demand is outpacing supply. A one-bedroom nest near a park with a bird bath and feeder can fetch six figure prices. Gray is the new brown this year and bird families who watch HGTV are educated buyers so attention to the little details that make a nest a home is paramount to success as a seller.

  • Julie Goode

    Several years ago my students all made knitted hats and we took them to the cancer center.

  • Phyllis Bloxson

    Every year my art students make hundreds of ornaments to hand out during our Christmas parade. I teach k-5 and each age groups creates different ornaments. My fifth graders help in cutting out parts and finishing’s. It is a great way to give back to our community. We also make snowman pictures to be given out at the hospital, local nursing home and senior centers.

    • What a wonderful tradition, Phyllis. Thanks for sharing!

  • Amanda

    This year my high school art club is sponsoring a winter themed art day for the elementary students in our district. The money that we raise from the art day will be used to buy art supply kits, gloves and hats that will be donated to a local gift drive. This is an excellent way to bring art to a community that only offers art classes at the high school level, and bring art to families that might be experiencing financial stress.

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  • Erin Dugan Michaud

    My students and I participated in Flood the Streets with Art. They made small pieces of work with the intention of “abandoning” them for strangers to find. We even partnered up with people out of state who have received my students work in the mail and placed it for us. It’s all being documented on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Each person that leaves out artwork takes a picture and posts it on the art room page. So far we’ve had documented drops in 16 states and sent some things out internationally. It’s been a great project.