As savings and disposable income get pinched from buying gifts for friends and family during the holidays, many people stop giving to their favorite charities.

The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love found giving to others actually has a positive physical effect on our bodies and mood. The more we give, the better we feel. reports that doing good things for others actually makes you happier. University of Oregon psychologists and economists found your brain’s pleasure center increases when you give.

Yes, money is tight this time of year. So here are some low-cost giving suggestions that will continue keeping you and others feeling good:

You don’t have to be rich to donate. Any gesture of generosity, no matter how small, makes a difference. Don’t think it must be an “all or nothing” approach. Non-profit organizations welcome donations of any size and often fund large projects with many small donations.

Many nonprofits can only survive through volunteerism. Your time is a precious commodity to them. If you can’t give money, give an hour or one day a month. If you’re out of work, you might even find a new passion or connection.

Depending on the non-profit, anything from silverware to clothing to furniture to keyboards could be a welcome donation. All of us have plenty of stuff we’re not using anymore and could help another person live their life a little easier.

Instead of spending money on gifts people may not want or enjoy, why not take the money you would have spent on gifts and donate it to charity. Send a note to friends and family about your decision encouraging them to do the same instead of buying you a gift.

Most importantly, when you give, never expect anything in return — except perhaps a tax receipt. When you give unconditionally, it’s like releasing thousands of molecules of love and compassion into the universe that attach themselves to people, places, and events. How awesome is that!

What will you do today to add more love to the world?

By Debbie Gisonni