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30 Meaningful Acts of Holiday Kindness

2012 December 4
by Marquita Herald

Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it  by giving the light of love to those who need it most.” ~Ruth Carter Stapleton

Meaningful Acts of ChristmasEven 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:

  1. As you make your way through the holiday crush, take time once in awhile to hold a door open for someone.
  2. In the spirit of the season … forgive someone.
  3. 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!)hugs are important!
  4. Give someone a hug.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Pay a local teenager to mow someone’s yard who is elderly, sick or their spouse is away.
  8. 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.
  9. Smile, and say thank you … a lot.
  10. Offer a couple hours of free babysitting to young parents who may not have the money to pay a sitter.
  11. 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.
  12. 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!)
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Offer to take an elderly friend, neighbor, or family member out on errands or – if you’re really brave – Christmas shopping.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Participate in a winter coat drive. Many local churches and schools collect winter coats for adults and children to donate to needy families.
  19. Tuck a “just because I love you” note in your child’s lunchbox – or your spouse/partners pocket or purse.
  20. Collect blankets for the homeless, needy families and the elderly.
  21. 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.
  22. Send a handwritten note with cookies or flowers to a teacher who has dedicated their life to educating children.
  23. Let someone jump in line ahead of you at the bank, grocery store, etc.
  24. 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.
  25. Give up your seat for someone, not just an elderly person.
  26. 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.
  27. Put some coins in someone else’s parking meter.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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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16 Responses
  1. June 10, 2013

    I think people get too caught up in “holidays” meaning they spend money they don’t have.

    People should be and act a certain way and be thankful of life all year around and not just a few times a year on special days.

    The primary focus of holidays in my opinion is to spend time with family and not necessarily to spend a ton of money on gifts.

    What do you guys think?

  2. December 15, 2012


    Such a wonderful list and such wonderful ideas. These are great because they can make people feel great and they cost nothing or almost nothing in most cases. Doing things on this list for other people can really have a positive influence on their lives and days and the people they meet too!

    Thanks for taking the time!

    ~ Jupiter Jim
    Jupiter Jim recently posted..No More Mass Shootings on TV for MEMy Profile

  3. December 9, 2012

    Hi Marquita,
    Lovely post!! I heard somewhere a quote which says ‘kindness is the rent we pay, to occupy space o some on this planet”. You have provided some of the simplest yet so touching ways to show kindness towards others. I always acknowledge and appreciate people, when they do something good and nice. A smile is always a big reliever in every situation. I just loved this post. A big Thanks to you for writing this one.

  4. Kimberly Castleberry
    December 7, 2012

    Oh this is such a positively wonderful list! I love this Marquita! Such happy loving thoughts… what a great way to start the holiday season!
    Kimberly Castleberry recently posted..Twitter: How to Unfollow All Followers At OnceMy Profile

  5. December 6, 2012

    What a lovely post…and so warmly shared and reminded…we just need to slow down and do good…thank YOU!

  6. December 6, 2012

    Marty, what a joyful read – it was filled with Christmas giving. Thank you so much for sharing how easy it can be to be kind. Am off now to share this post with everyone who’ll listen :)
    Sarah Arrow recently posted..Sourcing great images for PinterestMy Profile

  7. December 6, 2012

    Great post! I just linked to it from my own blog – thanks so much for all these truly meaningful ideas…

  8. December 5, 2012

    Hi, this is a great piece which reminds us all that little things make a big difference. I believe in simple rules as guidelines for our behavior, both personally and professionally, and you offer us thirty excellent examples of how we can live out our simple rules. Please check out the stories and simple rules of others at Cheers!

  9. December 5, 2012

    What an awesome list of acts of kindness Marquita! Interestingly enough, the message I am sharing with my church this Sunday is exactly on this subject – “Honouring the Overlooked this Christmas.” To me, this is such an important message that needs to be shared!

    Kevin Martineau recently posted..3 ways to give the gift of presence to your children this ChristmasMy Profile

  10. December 5, 2012

    I love reading through those random acts of kindness. I do so on a daily basis, but you have given me more ways to spread the true joy. I thank you.

    One of the things I do all the time is to notice my waitress when I go out to eat. I make a point of looking to her eyes, chat if she has time. And of course give a tip, but also give grateful words to her. Why? Because she deserves it! Serving someone is not only her job, but I appreciate her serving me.

    Keeping the mindset of spreading joy and gratitude during the holiday is a great way to do it all year long. Then it becomes a habit.

    The next time I’m at the grocery store, I am going to buy some flowers for the person behind me. I think that is one of the greatest things on this list!

    Donna Merrill recently posted..Blogging EthicsMy Profile

    • December 5, 2012

      Hey Donna, so glad you enjoyed the article, and you know that thing with the flowers – it is so simple, yet I remember the first time it happened to me like it was yesterday. Those things really stay with you and help to remind us the smallest gesture of kindness can really make an impact in someone’s life :-)

  11. December 5, 2012

    This article makes me personally understand that all of us have to take a lot more care of our self and each other.
    Candice Michelle recently posted..gun accessoriesMy Profile

  12. December 5, 2012

    The 30 meaningful acts are very inspirational to all. Holiday is not just only a time to rest but also a time to act good things to others.
    TracyAnn0312 recently posted..holstersMy Profile

  13. Steve Borgman
    December 4, 2012

    Marquita, I absolutely love this article. In fact, I could feel my heart expanding as I read this! I have to admit, I sometimes feel my heart becoming Scrooge like when I see all the commercialism of Christmas. But any one of these acts of charity and kindness can counteract my own automatic negative energy. Thank you so much!
    Steve Borgman recently posted..It Pays To Read These Top Ranked BooksMy Profile

    • December 5, 2012

      So glad you enjoyed the article and kindness ideas Steve! I have to tell you, yesterday I was out all day running errands and at one point found myself with an opportunity to follow my own advice – so there I am holding a door open for people coming/going into our local Macy’s … except there were so many people going in and out I soon started feeling like a doorstop – and not a single person even turned to see my big smile as I’m standing there. Of course I’m telling myself “That’s not why your doing this!,” but eventually the smile started sinking and just as I was about to utter those fateful words – bah humbug! – and let go of the door – a genteman stepped up behind me and took the door, sweeping his arm out and inviting me to enter. He had this huge smile and just said “your turn!” Vindicated! Of course it didn’t hurt either that he was a real hottie :-)

      • Steve Borgman
        December 5, 2012

        Ha! Ha! :) Thanks for sharing your experience. You deserved the vindicating smile from that hottie :)

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