5 Socially responsible family New Year's resolutions

Dec 31, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. ET

It’s pretty easy to come up with New Year’s resolutions that target your wallet or your waistline. Resolving to give back can sometimes be more difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.

When it comes to New Year's resolutions, we sometimes think only about ourselves. Resolve to be a little more selfless this year by reaching out to your community as a family. Here are some suggestions for socially responsible resolutions to get you started.

Explore your neighborhood

How well do you know your neighbors? An opportunity to give back is probably closer than you think. Maybe 2013 is the year you hit the pavement and shake some hands. If you have a favorite recipe for cookies or banana bread, whip up a few batches and deliver them to neighbors you don't know well. They'll probably be shocked by the gesture but you'll definitely make some people smile (which makes the effort totally worth it). Your small step will go far when it comes to improving the sense of community in your neighborhood.

Find out how to give back to your community >>

Round up the change

In these difficult economic times, giving financially to a charity or nonprofit organization can be painful. But, we also have an opportunity to teach our kids about character when we struggle. Encourage your family to put extra change in a designated spot (a Mason jar or a coffee can works well) and then decide where to donate the money when it reaches a certain level. Let your kids know that even though the budget is tight, we can still help others.

Read about 5 ways your kids can give back >>

Defend a cause

Do you have a favorite charity? Ask your family members to research some charities and local nonprofits and pick one they'd like to support. When your kids feel a personal connection to an organization that is giving back to the community or helping people in need, they will be more excited about giving of their own resources. Perhaps you can take turns volunteering at everyone's chosen organization or rotate a family donation.

Find out how to help your kids learn to be thankful >>

Revamp your choices

There's no denying the fact that we're all consumers, but where we fall on the consumerism spectrum varies. Where do you rank when it comes to making wise choices with your purchasing power? Maybe you'd like to buy more locally-made or sustainable products this year. However you choose to revamp your choices, the important thing is to be cognizant of your purchases. Your kids will see that there's no joy in accumulating "stuff" and that every purchase should have a bit of thought behind it.

Read about 5 tips for shopping smart and saving big >>

Share your skills

Maybe this is the year you resolve to discover and share your skills. We all have something to offer and it doesn't have to be money. Are you a skilled organizer, gifted writer or patient teacher? There are plenty of charities that can put those skills to good use. Seek them out, and then teach your kids to do the same.

Tell us

How does your family plan to give back this year? Will you make any socially responsible New Year's resolutions?

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