Salvation Army toy givaway for families in need, Christmas 2008.

There's something about Christmas that encourages people to spread a little cheer and volunteer.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America

There's something about Christmas that encourages people to spread a little cheer. Maybe it's all those twinkling lights, inflatable snowmen, sugar cookies, peppy songs and shiny toys -- or maybe the eggnog helps.

Whatever the reason, one good thing about Christmas is that it gets many of us thinking about others and how we can help those in need. It's a nice break from the gluttony of the season, when we seem to get accosted by fruitcake, cheese balls and candy canes at every turn.

So if you're feeling particularly charitable during the holidays, there are plenty of places that need your help. Start by thinking about your skills and interests and what organizations would benefit from those talents.

To ensure the best yuletide volunteering experience, be sure to get a head start. A few months before the holidays, start keeping your eye out for posters on the bulletin boards at your local library, grocery store or community center. Visit one of your local churches to see what they're planning. Even if you're not a member of the church, they'll likely appreciate any help you're willing to provide [source: Squidoo].

You can also contact local service organizations. They might be working with larger organizations and foundations on holiday-related projects or could be preparing for their own project and in need of extra help. For example, residents in Carrboro and Chapel Hill, NC, can contact the Chapel Hill Service League to volunteer for Christmas House, an annual event that provides new toys, books and coats to approximately 800 children in need within the community [source: Chapel Hill Service League].

And don't forget to check the Internet for local volunteer opportunities. You'll find more than enough places to spread your time and wealth. The deeper you dig in the results, the more likely you are to find the smaller organizations that may be in greater need of help.

Read on to find out where you can volunteer on Christmas.