30 Meaningful Acts of Holiday Kindness
Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it most.” ~Ruth Carter Stapleton
Even when we recognize in our hearts and minds all that is special and meaningful in this holiday season, so much of the joyful spirit can get lost in the busyness of shopping and preparation for holiday activities and gatherings.
Taking a little time to be mindful of those around us, reaching out with simple gestures of kindness, as we rush through the days of preparation and celebration, not only makes our own hearts swell with the meaning of the season, but positively affects those around us.
In fact, according to research conducted at Harvard University and the University of California at San Diego, a single act of kindness can extend as far as three degrees of separation, and also spreads laterally to affect an even greater number of people who come in contact with the original “affected” individual.
Eliminating meanness, gossip, criticism, judgment and blame would be a superb act of kindness! Admittedly, such change on a large scale is probably a bit beyond our individual capacity; but even occasional simple acts of kindness are certainly within our ability, and a positive step in the right direction.
Can you imagine the difference we could make in this world if every person made room this season for even a single meaningful act of holiday kindness?!
Never underestimate the impact of a single act of kindness:
- As you make your way through the holiday crush, take time once in awhile to hold a door open for someone.
- In the spirit of the season … forgive someone.
- The next time you’re at the grocery store, include a small bunch of flowers in your order and after you’ve paid for your things, give the flowers to the person behind you in line. (I have been on the receiving end of flowers like this twice – it is the most amazing feeling!)
- Give someone a hug.
- Write notes of appreciation to people you regularly come in contact with who don’t normally receive recognition … cafeteria workers, janitors, doctor, nurse, pastor, mailman, etc.
- Leave a book you have already finished somewhere for someone else to read. Tuck in a handwritten note with a holiday greeting and an invitation to read or pass it on.
- Pay a local teenager to mow someone’s yard who is elderly, sick or their spouse is away.
- Homeless shelters often need toiletries. Give travel-sized toiletries such as shampoo, soap, toothpaste and toothbrush, and deodorant, disposable razors for shaving, lip balm, sun block and lotion. For homeless children, you may want to give small toys such dolls or toy cars.
- Smile, and say thank you … a lot.
- Offer a couple hours of free babysitting to young parents who may not have the money to pay a sitter.
- Websites, such as Wounded Warrior, Soldier’s Angels and Any Soldier provide enormous support to our men and women in the armed services. You’ll find wealth of information on supporting military families during the holidays, sending holiday care packages and how you can adopt a soldier.
- Give another driver that prime parking spot you had your eye on. (Go on, suck it up and do it – it’ll make you feel good – if nothing else it’ll be worth it to see the look on the other driver’s face!)
- Donate canned food to your local food bank. Millions of Americans continue to struggle with hunger. These are often hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and are forced to go without food for several meals, or even days. Grocery stores and libraries often set up boxes near their entrances for the holiday collection of canned goods and non-perishable items, and schools often run food drives during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
- If you’re planning to donate to your local food bank, consider including a bag of dog or cat food for pets … or you can donate pet food to your local humane society.
- Offer to take an elderly friend, neighbor, or family member out on errands or – if you’re really brave – Christmas shopping.
- Landing in a shelter for victims of abuse at any time is heartbreaking, but especially so during the holiday season. Donations such as toys for the children and travel size toiletries for the women are especially welcome.
- Give a phone card. Perhaps you know a poor student or senior citizen who is struggling to pay their bills. The gift of a phone card will help them keep in touch with their loved ones and brighten their holidays.
- Participate in a winter coat drive. Many local churches and schools collect winter coats for adults and children to donate to needy families.
- Tuck a “just because I love you” note in your child’s lunchbox – or your spouse/partners pocket or purse.
- Collect blankets for the homeless, needy families and the elderly.
- Angel Tree offers assistance to prison inmates and their children during Christmas. They give the children gifts on behalf of the parents along with a personal message.
- Send a handwritten note with cookies or flowers to a teacher who has dedicated their life to educating children.
- Let someone jump in line ahead of you at the bank, grocery store, etc.
- Participate in a Toy Drive. Even the smallest of gifts will put a smile on the face of a child who will not be receiving much for Christmas.
- Give up your seat for someone, not just an elderly person.
- Some residents of senior citizen homes have no family to visit them on a regular basis. Taking the time to bring them a baked item or sugar-free candy canes this holiday is a gesture they will greatly appreciate. If you belong to a church group that’s planning to go Christmas caroling consider including senior shut-ins.
- Put some coins in someone else’s parking meter.
- Police Officers and firemen work odd shifts and miss out on a lot of family time due to their jobs. Recognizing their great service to the community with a thank you and holiday baked goodies will be a touching and meaningful reward.
- Create a family tradition with your children of going through toys they no longer play with and donating them to charity or a needy family. This instills in your children early on the giving spirit of the holiday season.
- What would Christmas be without the Salvation Army’s red buckets and the ringing bells?! You can change Christmas for someone just by offering your spare change on your way in or out of the store while shopping this season.
Of course there is one other thing we can do … we can resolve to be kinder, not just during the holidays, but every day of the year. We can treat those around us with the same respect and politeness that we reserve for friends and colleagues, and we can refuse to litter the lives of others with negative energy.
If we do this, we will be doing our part to create a world in which kindness is not merely a selfless act reserved for the holiday season, but rather a way of life.
I’d love to hear from you! Please consider sharing acts of Christmas kindness that you’ve received or kindnesses that you’ve instigated in the comments section below.
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