I’m still in shock. My family lost a truly remarkable piece of our puzzle last night. My great-uncle Pete was such a wonderful person. A God-fearing man, who did his best to be kind-hearted and generous to everyone. He had the most uncanny ability to share a funny picture or meme with me just when I needed it most. In honor of him, and because today is Giving Tuesday, I give you some of my favorite ways to give back through the holiday season.
One of my favorite parts about celebrating the holidays with my children is giving back to others and teaching them the art of doing it without knowledge or reciprocation. I personally love to anonymously gift people. It should be noted that this is something we should be doing all year long, but there is something extra joyous about the holidays. Through the years I’ve tried to teach my children what it means to give back in various ways. So far I’ve gotten pretty lucky with all of my kids loving the idea of surprising other people as much as they are surprised. Here are some of our favorite ways to give back during the holidays.
I’m sure you’ve all heard of this one, maybe it’s happened to you or you know someone who has been “elfed”. The idea is to create a small bag of goodies and anonymously drop it on someone’s porch with a sign that says “you’ve been elfed” for them to put in their window. You can also create a sign and directions for them to share the joy with others and “elf” someone else. We love Target, so I spend a lot of money at the dollar spot there, but the dollar store is a great place also. We try to do this for people with children, but we have certainly elfed our neighbors without kids also. I hear wine makes for a great gift! Ideas for children include small toys, tiny coloring books, fun packs, candy (of course), christmas ornaments (kids love the DIY ones), cocoa and cookies.
Give the gift of coffee!
Okay – this one is by far my favorite, especially when it happens to me, so I make it a point to do it a few times through the season. It’s very simple, buy someone’s coffee! If you aren’t the type of person who likes to simply pay for someone behind you at Starbucks (we all know they can be pricey), then ask for a gift card and tell the barista to use it toward someone’s coffee. I have done it both ways before. If you’re a coffee or tea drinker then I’m sure you know how nice it is to have someone else pay for your coffee.
Overtip a server!
This is something my husband and I enjoy doing around the holidays, but also as often as we can. I’m not sure where I got the idea for it honestly, though I’m sure it was from another blog or post somewhere. The idea is simple, take $100 and go out for a light lunch, coffee or snack; when the bill comes, no matter how small, leave the whole $100. Now, obviously I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether your server is “worthy” or provided the best service. I would like you to keep in mind that servers work for a paltry amount of money and the tips are often their livelihood. Not to mention, some of what they can/cannot do is out of their control (for example, understaffed and overly busy restaurant = not their fault you had to wait a bit longer), and that they are human beings who go through the same ups/downs and moods that you and I do.
Donate a toy!
This is something my kids really enjoy doing and we do in a few different ways. It started when my kids were younger and their “elf on the shelf” arrived. They were tasked to put all the toys they didn’t play with in a bin for Santa to share with other kids. Well, turns out they never had a problem giving away their toys (talk about a win) and loved it enough to want to donate more. Each year they go through their toys and anything they don’t play with (that’s in good condition of course) gets donated. This also applies to clothing, shoes and coats. Then, in addition, they each get a little bit of money to buy a toy for Toys for Tots, or another toy donation bin we happen to find.
Make a card for someone!
This last one is the cheapest, but also the most fun. I go to Michaels, The Dollar Store, Target, etc. and I buy Christmas cards. I try to make them as basic as possible (maybe just a picture, or a Happy Holidays) and I always make sure the inside is blank. Then my kids draw, write and they do whatever they feel will make someone happy. And then we pass them out. Now, this could be to a neighbor or friend, but it could also be to a person you pass in a store, or at a restaurant. I love putting them on people’s cars with a candy cane. If you stick around long enough, you might catch a glimpse of their face when they open the card, and more often than not, it’s pure joy (of course not everyone loves it).
Whatever you choose to do, I encourage you to give back somehow. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, if any at all!
While I was a Girl Scout leader we frequently tried to serve dinner at the Judeo Christian Outreach Center, JCOC, during the holidays so the girls got to give back a little to those who didn’t have nearly as much. So it could be something as simple as the gift of your time, which often means the world to people. Sending a smile to a stranger or complimenting someone costs you nothing. Doing something neighborly: collect their neighbors trash bin after it’s been picked up, rake some leaves for them, chat with them (at a safe distance), etc. Whatever you choose to do, you can bet that you’ve made someone’s day. Kindness costs nothing, and this year it’s especially important to spread as much of it as possible.
I would love to hear what you do to spread a little kindness around the holidays! Drop a comment below if you’ve got something different that you enjoy doing.
Happy giving, friends!