The holiday season is, for many, a time of uplifted spirits and a renewed sense of giving.
Whether you spend your own time or collaborate with your coworkers or members of your community organizations to harness the power of the group, the following suggestions can be accomplished with very little individual cost.
This list suggests just a few of the many ways you can bring happiness to someone else this year.
1. Volunteer. Your local homeless shelter always needs volunteers. Spend an hour preparing a meal or doing whatever needs to be done. The Red Cross and Salvation Army also have local chapters, and offer many ways to help others during the busy holiday season.
2. Walk your elderly neighbor’s dog. Pets are a big part of people’s lives, and they need care, too. If you have a family member or neighbor who isn’t ambulatory, offer to take their dog when you walk yours. If you don’t have a dog, the walk will still be good for both of you! You don’t have to just walk their dog either. It might be something simple, like just spending an hour with them over the weekend.
3. Clean out your closets. Donate gently used clothing to a local shelter or Goodwill store.
4. Donate books. Are you an avid reader? You probably have limited space for the physical books you’ve read. Before you recycle them, contact the nearest Veteran’s Center, Veteran’s Medical Center or homeless shelter and see if they need books for their clients.
5. Bake. Homemade food is one of the best gifts you can give. You have donated your time and the ingredients in the preparation, and your caring spirit is passed along when you share these treats.
6. Write a thank-you note. Pick someone to thank. Let your local police officers or Game Commission officers know that you appreciate their service.
7. Send a handwritten letter. In the age of technology, letter writing, and cursive, has become a lost art. Chronicling the highlights of your year is a wonderful way to let your loved ones know about your life. You can also tell them how much it means to have them in your life and how much you appreciate them and all they do.
Sure, they may have seen the Facebook post — but the letter will refresh their memory and give them a physical object to hold while they read your handwriting. They’ll probably keep the letter, too.
8. Visit a hospital. Sick patients will appreciate the time you spend reading to them or simply having a good conversation.
9. Give genuine compliments. A sincere compliment is not often heard these days. Your kind words will lift up the recipient.
10. Invite a guest for dinner. Do you know a coworker or someone in your community whose family is far away? Open your heart and home. Invite them to your family’s Christmas dinner.
11. Pay it forward. When paying for your order at the coffee shop, ask the cashier to ring up the next person’s order as well.
12. Make “care bags” for the homeless. Stuff fabric storage bags with a toothbrush and small tube of toothpaste, a pair of socks, deodorant, shampoo, soap and maybe even a 5-dollar bill. Your local shelter can assist with distribution.
13. Donate a grocery store gift card. Invite coworkers or organization members to contribute towards the purchase of a gift card for a family in need.
14. Make handmade Christmas cards. Organize your paper crafts group to make several dozen cards. Deliver to a local nursing home or hospice care facility.
If you’re NOT crafty, you can still make great cards using unlined paper, magic markers and crayons. Ask people in your organization to join you. Fold a piece of paper in half and then in half again so that it opens like a card. Simple, colorful drawings on the outside and a warm message on the inside will lift someone’s heart.
15. Christmas Caroling. Visit a local nursing home and sing Christmas carols to the residents. Most everyone loves Christmas songs and knows the words to sing along!
16. Organize a food drive. Your local food bank provides food for the people in your own communities experiencing food insecurity.
17. Donation drive. Find a homeless shelter’s wish list on their website. Organize a donation drive at your workplace to collect some of the items such as personal hygiene products, paper towels, socks, etc.
18. Giving Tree. Replace your traditional workplace Christmas tree with a “Giving Tree.” Instead of the usual Christmas ornaments, encourage employees to decorate with kids’ hats, scarves and gloves on the tree. Designate a day to deliver the items to a local shelter.
19. Be kind. This one costs nothing and works everywhere, with everyone.
Get creative with how you spread your cheer!