7 Simple Ways to Spread Some Holiday Cheer

The holidays are cheerful, but they can also be a busy time of year for many, with crowded schedules, shopping, and stress. That doesn’t mean you have to lose the giving spirit!

The best gifts often aren’t material ones. Small acts of kindness that show you’re thinking of someone can mean more—and cost less—than a physical item. Write a thank you note to a friend or co-worker. Offer a friend a ride to the airport. Donate anonymously. Even the smallest acts of good can go a long way and bring a smile to someone’s face.

These seven ideas make it easy to spread kindness this holiday season:

1. FaceTime/Skype an old friend. Technology has entirely changed our lives. Use it to your advantage by connecting face-to-face with an old friend or a friend out of state. It doesn’t need to be too long, just lengthy enough to wish them a happy holiday and give a quick update on life and your family.

2. Buy coffee for a stranger. Next time you roll through the drive-thru of your local coffee shop, offer to pay for yourself and the person behind you (if they have already ordered, the cashier should have their bill handy). Or better yet, leave a $20 bill with the cashier after you pay and ask him/her to pay for the following customers until the $20 runs out. Either way, this pleasant surprise is guaranteed to brighten someone’s day.

3. Handwrite a letter. Find 10 minutes, a stamp, and an envelope to write a letter to someone who has made a difference in your life. Choose an old friend with a current street address and put some of your thoughts of appreciation on paper. If you send holiday cards, take the time to include a personalized note. Expressing how you feel and how much they mean to you is a beautiful holiday gift. And it will be the best piece of mail your friend receives this holiday season.

4. Donate to your local charity. Clothes, food, or personal care items are all great options. You can even donate your time and money to help those that need a little more light in their life. Teach your children the true spirit of giving by asking them to choose one of their new or like-new toys to give to a child in need.

5. Buy movie tickets for a family in your neighborhood. Know somebody on your block who has fallen into some difficult financial times? Add some movie gift cards in an envelope and leave it on their doorstep. Some holiday entertainment may be just the distraction they need to experience a little extra cheer.

6. Invite someone over for dinner. For a number of reasons, there are many people alone during the holidays. If you know someone alone this season, open your house to them for a meal. Rather than infringing on your holiday traditions, it may just become one of your favorites.

7. Bake Christmas cookies for friends and neighbors. A simple and sweet way to make people smile is to offer them a tasty treat. Block out a day in your busy holiday schedule to bake Christmas cookies for friends, family, and neighbors – and ask the kids to help! To make the experience more memorable, invite close friends and family to join in for an all-day baking date.

Though we can’t change the entire world with these simple ideas; we can still intentionally seek to add life and cheer to the people around us. And as a result, make this season a little more beautiful.

What are some ways you and your family can commit to spreading holiday cheer?