Guest Post: Embracing the Holiday Spirit Year-Round by Amanda Bonilla + Giveaway

Filed in Amanda Bonilla , featured , Giveaways , Guest Post , The Needy Lover Posted on December 19, 2011 @ 9:00 am 32 comments

Today at BLI, we’re very pleased to be welcoming author Amanda Bonilla! She shares with us some of the traditions and tendencies that crop up around Christmas, noting a a few great pieces of advice for one and all to consider when it comes to generosity. For our parts, we couldn’t agree more!  Stay tuned after the post for a readerly treat from Amanda.

First of all, I’d like to thank BLI for hosting me today! You guys are great! ☺

Since the time my kids were little, I’ve told them, “You don’t have to like everyone. But you do have to treat everyone with kindness and compassion.”

During the holidays, everyone adopts a “Goodwill toward your fellow man” attitude. And while this is wonderful, I believe that we should practice this philosophy year-round, rather than one month out of the year. And so, in the interest of spreading the love for my fellow humans, here’s my list of things you can do to have that holiday spirit year-round:

Remember those less fortunate than yourself.

We all have moments where we want to throw ourselves on the floor and throw a king-size hissy fit. Maybe the book we’ve been waiting months for didn’t show up on time, or your fav department store just sold out of the super cute boots that you had your eye on. Maybe we whine because our smart phones are outdated and we don’t have an upgrade for another year or we really, really want an iPad. But it’s important to remember that there are people out there who can’t afford a five dollar book, or don’t have suitable boots or coats for the winter weather. Some people can’t even afford groceries, let alone cell phones. It doesn’t have to be Christmas for you to buy books/school supplies/clothes for disadvantaged kids, or adopt a family through your local Dept. of Health and Welfare. One of the things most requested by disadvantaged families in my area this year: laundry detergent. Sort of puts that whole iPad thing in perspective, doesn’t it?

Boost people up instead of tear them down.

Researchers have said that it takes ten compliments to reverse the psychological effects of one hurtful comment. Now, I don’t think people should go around flattering each other needlessly or lying to one another so as to spare feelings. But I think that it’s really important to focus on the positive and let negativity take a back seat. Sometimes all it takes to make someone’s day is a friendly smile and a polite, “Hello!” Virtual smiles count, too. The internet can be a breeding ground for negativity. It’s much too easy to be cruel or write hurtful things about a faceless person. Every day of the year we should consider people’s feelings and how our words affect others. Remember that thing your mother told you about not saying anything at all if you couldn’t say something nice? It’s just as good an idea now as it was when you were a kid.

It is better to give than to receive.

Giving of yourself and your time is just as important as donating material things. There just aren’t enough volunteers in the world. If you have the time to donate, schools are always looking for people to help out in classrooms, read with the kids, or make photocopies for teachers. Animal shelters are always low on help (I know mine is) and a lot of facilities just need people to help walk the dogs or play with the kittens. An hour of playing with cute, fuzzy kittehs? Sign me up!! Are you athletic? Do you play soccer, football, volleyball, tennis? Are you artistic? Can you paint, sew, play an instrument, sing? Most communities are desperate for adults to volunteer their services mentoring kids in arts-related activities or coaching youth athletic teams. I’m a huge advocate for sports. They teach kids about responsibility, and team work, and setting and working toward achieving goals. I coached high school volleyball for 5 years and believe me when I say, sports help keep kids out of trouble.

“The Holidays” is all-encompassing.

When we talk about “the holidays,” most of us are referring to the time period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. But what about the rest of the months? Technically, there’s at least one holiday every month of the year. Nothing in June, you say? Why not count the summer solstice. June is also National Accordion Awareness Month. There’s a National Dance Week in August. Count it as a holiday! You hear people say, “I always get that warm, fuzzy feeling around the holidays.” or “I try to give a little more around the holidays.” I think we should all try to hold on to those warm, fuzzy feelings year-round. We should give more, care more, and feel more every day of every month of every year.

Do you volunteer, give to your community, or donate to local thrift stores or food banks? I’d love to hear about it! Let’s spread the love, people!

About Amanda:

Amanda Bonilla lives in rural Idaho with her husband and two kids. She’s a part-time pet wrangler, a full-time sun worshipper, and only goes out into the cold when coerced. She loves the outdoors, black clothes, pink appliances and thinks junk food should be a recognized food group. In the summer, she can be found sitting by the lake, enjoying the view from her dock.

Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla

In the shadows of the night, Darian has lived alone for almost a century. Made and abandoned by her former love, Darian is the last of her kind-an immortal Shaede who can slip into darkness as easily as breathing. With no one else to rely on, she has taught herself how to survive, using her unique skills to become a deadly assassin.

When Darian’s next mark turns out to be Xander Peck, King of the Shaede Nation, her whole worldview is thrown into question. Darian begins to wonder if she’s taken on more than her conscience will allow. But a good assassin never leaves a job unfinished…

You can find Amanda Bonilla at her website:



Amanda has generously offered a copy of her book, Shaedes of Gray, to one lucky commenter!

All you have to do is answer Amanda’s question OR leave a meaningful comment about the post.
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)

Please leave a valid email when placing your comment so we can inform you if you win.

This giveaway is open to all.

Giveaway ends on Saturday, December 31, 2011; we will announce the winner on Sunday.

Good luck!

About Alisha

Alisha, the bespectacled and ever nerdy California girl, simply won't leave home without a book in hand. She loves language learnin' and is working toward becoming a bonafide grammar ninja. On any given day you'll find her haunting local libraries or baking scores of cupcakes and sweet treats.

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Join the Discussion
  • Gena Robertson December 19, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Amanda, I agree with the negative remarks and how they stick. It does take so many more positive ones to replace one negative one, it’s amazing. The old adage I know is, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all!.”
    I love to give to all of the food drives that I can. Many are run all year long in our community, but he Postal Service, Realtors, Radio Stations, TV Stations, and our community missions, as well as the Salvation Army. As long as I have it, I will share!!
    I’ve been lusting for your book for several weeks now, and it is on my TBR list, as soon as I can justify spending money on myself again (after the holidays) – so I would love to win it, hehe!
    Thanks so much for the guest post, I feel very uplifted by it!
    Happy Holidays!

  • Birgit December 19, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I’m usually giving back to the community though not as much as I used to now that I’m looking for a new job. Still, I always donate boxes with books I no longer want/need for a charity flea market once a year. And I’ve also donated a bit of money to SOMA which is a local group that makes food and necessities available for those families who cannot afford it.

  • Diane December 19, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Yes about 6 times a year we go through closets, cupboards and the basement and get rid of anything that has no use to us and donate to the Salvation Army.
    When my kids were younger I also volunteered at the local schools to help with projects and outings or whatever they needed me for.

  • Joanne B December 19, 2011 at 10:28 am

    My family donates clothing, toys, housewares, etc. to Goodwill. We also donate to the local animal rescue/ humane society, along with donating to Toys for Tots.

  • erinf1 December 19, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Please don’t enter me — I already have this book and am very excited to start reading!!!

    Thanks for such a lovely and thought-provoking post. It’s easy to be “in the spirit of the season” and very difficult to maintain year round. It’s nice to have a reminder every now and again that the “Christmas” spirit shouldn’t be centered around the holiday 🙂

  • miki December 19, 2011 at 10:46 am

    We give cloths to our neighour because she is a religious and go the help people in need so we prefer to her to do it.

    i’m dreaming of this book so thanks you for opening this giveaway worldwide ( a lot i saw were us only ç_ç)thanks you for this opportunity to win it

    all the best


  • Jason K. December 19, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I don’t donate more often during the holidays, but if I have clothes or other items I no longer need I always bring them to Goodwill or St. Vincent DePaul instead of just throwing them out.


  • aurian December 19, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Hi Amanda, you are absolutely correct with this post. I donate money to environment / animal goodwills here in Holland. I don’t think it is very much possible to help poor people in Holland for a private person. The rules about what you can donate to a foodbank or shelter are very strict. And to be very blunt, I think animals need it more, year round.

  • blodeuedd December 19, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Can’t say I do, I do not think we got a foodbank here, no shelters. I guess I would take the dogs in the animalshelters out for a walk. And I do give clothes to the red cross, or furniture. But not much one can do here. Since those who do take care of it, and do not need us

  • Amanda Bonilla December 19, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Thanks again to BLI for hosting me today!! You guys are awesome! I have a huge smile on my face from all of the positive vibes I’m getting this morning! 🙂

  • JenM December 19, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    What a great post, and a reminder of what’s important, all year round, not just at the holidays. I’ve been fortunate enough to work this year at a company that not only gives employees up to a week of paid time to volunteer at whatever organization they choose, but also organizes departmental volunteer days, where everyone in the dept. goes to a food bank, or habitat for humanity or whatever, and spends a half or a full day there, (with pay of course).

  • Vojalyn December 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Thank you for the great post! I don’t donate often because I always have the doubt in me that it won’t go to the right place, but I’m a volunteer worker in a hospital where I play with handicapped kids. It’s always hard to go there as a totally heathy woman but it’s also feels great that you can make them smile a little when you read them 🙂 I’m glad I chose to be part of it!

  • Jen B. December 19, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I do volunteer at my kid’s school. I like to tutor math. I feel like, if I can reach a kids when they are young and make them understand the foundations of math, it will help them for the rest of their lives. I have always like to help out around my community.

  • Marie-Claude December 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    I donate money to world wildlife to protecte all the different animal on the planet.

  • Mary Kirkland December 19, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    I give clothes we can no longer wear to either the Shelter for women and children or if they are men’s clothing to the Mission. They always need winter clothes for the homeless. I donate whatever books I no longer want to the library.

  • Na S. December 19, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Every couple of months my family does a big cleanup where we gather things we don’t need anymore and donate them. It turns out we have a lot of things we never use or don’t need because everytime the cleanup call comes around the bags fill up quickly. It’s a good feeling. Books are also great for giving away especially because they keep on giving.

  • Heather S December 19, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    I do try to give back when I can. At the university where I work they have a Holiday Giving Tree each year, which I love to participate in. You pick an ‘ornament’ with the person’s info and what they want/need, then you try to give them that. It is great fun and a little heartbreaking when all they may want is lotion or soap.

  • Estella December 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Our family donates to the local hospice thrift store and the food banks.

  • Bethany C. December 19, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    I’d like to just add that a great thing to do for just ten bucks is donate to Nothing But Nets. Every 45 seconds a child in Africa dies from malaria and the net from a donation lasts a family about 3 years. Ten bucks. Sorry if I sound like a commercial.


  • Barbara Elness December 19, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    I work for my city and there are blood drives every couple of months, food drives, breast cancer campaigns, a workplace giving campaign, etc. I donate to everything that comes up, as well as give to my favorite charities, and donate clothing every time I clean out the closet. It feels good to share my good fortune with others, since last year at this time I was out of work.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

  • Kaetrin December 19, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    congratulations on your book Amanda!

    We give to charity all year round – not just at Christmas – people are struggling all over not only in December, so I totally get what you’re saying! 🙂

    • Kaetrin December 19, 2011 at 11:54 pm

      Sorry, forgot to add
      hankts AT internode DOT on DOT net

  • Amanda Bonilla December 20, 2011 at 12:07 am

    I am so touched by all of the wonderful comments! You guys are seriously awesome and you know you’re all generating some great karma! Do good and good will come back to you. <3

  • Mary Preston December 20, 2011 at 2:34 am

    I can’t give my time, I don’t have enough now, but I give what I can in other ways.


  • Tamsyn December 20, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Awesome post. Really thoughtful. I do give when I can but working 14-16 hours day can take a lot out of people. But I give my smile all the time!

  • Victoria Zumbrum December 20, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    I wish I had the money to donate to some charities but having hard time right now making it. Please enter me in contest.

  • donnas December 20, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    We have boxes around where about twice a month we put canned and boxed food (stuff that wont spoil easily) in for the poorer people. I dont have the extra money to give cash but at least its something.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  • Melanie S. December 22, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    I donate to Red Cross and I collect clothes all year long and give it to the Red Cross too. And I support the local mountain rescue organisation.

    booksforalleternity at gmail dot com

  • JessS December 26, 2011 at 1:33 am

    I’ve volunteered a couple of times at fetes, where I found I’m pretty much crap at face painting, not that any of the kids seemed to mind. And we do try to give old clothes and stuff to thrift shops. But overall I don’t really do that much.


  • Jeanne December 29, 2011 at 5:57 am

    I wish I had the money to donate but I guess I have to wait for that. I´m student and I don´t work yet…

  • IdentitySeeker December 29, 2011 at 9:09 am

    I volunteer whenever I can with my university’s students’ association- we have a cupcakes for cancer sale each year- and I used to visit an orphanage every Saturday while in high school. I’ve recently withdrawn within myself due to my stressful postgrad workload and don’t feel very sociable anymore:(

  • Theresa N December 31, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I don’t to the thrift stores and food bank.

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