Do you have more holiday cheer than you know what to do with? Share it! Or are you feeling a little Scrooge-y? Surprising someone with kindness will get you in the spirit of the season better than anything else. Even the smallest gesture of goodwill can mean a lot to people, especially when they aren’t expecting it. And who knows? A random act of Christmas kindness might become one of your favorite holiday memories or a family tradition to be repeated year after year.
Here are 12 easy ways to brighten someone’s day and bring more joy to the world—and our list may spark some other ideas. You can spread the goodwill on your own or with a partner or friends. Involving kids is a great way to teach them about the meaning of Christmas.
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Do you know a busy mom with young children? Offer to babysit for a few hours so she can get her Christmas shopping or other errands done. She will be forever grateful!
If you have older kids, cut paper snowflakes with them and string them into garlands with thread or fishing wire for friends of the family. They make fun decorations to hang in windows or anywhere else.
Give a friend unbaked cookies. Mix up the dough, roll it into balls, and freeze them in a container, separating layers with aluminum foil. That way, she can bake them at any time. Alternately, give her a dish of homemade lasagna for the freezer, with instructions for baking. Most people love having a homemade meal they can pop into the oven, especially during the busy holiday season.
Kids can give teachers handwritten notes of appreciation at the holidays. If they’re too young to write, a parent can take dictation. Young ones can also draw or color a Christmas picture for their teacher or day care provider.
Teachers love gift cards! Even one for a small amount to a coffee shop, office supply store or place they can grab a quick breakfast or lunch is greatly appreciated.
If you’re the first one shoveling after a big snow, and you feel up to it, shovel your neighbor’s driveway or walkway, too. It’s extra exercise for you and a nice surprise for them.
Leave a tiny potted Christmas tree outside your neighbor’s door with an anonymous note wishing him or her a happy holiday.
Some people think new socks are a boring gift. At many homeless and domestic violence shelters, however, they are some of the most needed and least often donated items! Shop for white cotton gym socks or the thick, cozy kind.
Talk to the management at a nursing home to arrange a visit. They can tell you the best times to come and what the residents might appreciate. Or get inspired with our list of useful gift ideas for seniors.
Another idea is to ask the people there if you can put holiday decorations on the doors to their rooms. Many of them will appreciate the extra cheer. If you have young children, get them to color or paint Christmas pictures—the more colorful, the better!
If you and another driver have your eyes on the same parking space, let her have it. And if a shopper seems frazzled or has impatient kids in tow, let him go ahead of you in line.
Not everyone has the day off. Hospitals, some restaurants, many convenience stores and drugstores, and most movie theaters are up and running. For these instances, put together a few little gift bags with cookies or candy, or holiday cards with a $5 gift card to a coffee shop inside. Then, give them to unsuspecting people on the job. It’s especially fun for kids to participate in this activity. Regardless of whether the person celebrates Christmas, you’ll make her day.