We are living in a world where tragic events fill our TV screens, relationships are breaking down, and patience is in short supply. What we could all use is a little kindness right about now.
Here are 12 ideas for spreading a spirit of loving-kindness in the lead up to Christmas Day.
1. Donate food
There are many food rescue and welfare groups in need of non-perishable items to share with the less fortunate at this time of year. You’re sure to have a tin or jar of food in the pantry you could donate. And it doesn’t hurt to add an item or two to the grocery list to pass on to someone in need.
2. Make sweet treats for a neighbour
There is no lack of inspiration for creating tempting treats during the Christmas season. From supermarket catalogues to Facebook videos, it’s not hard to make a simple treat like Rocky Road or White Christmas. And the joy on your neighbour’s face will be well worth the effort!
3. Send a Thank You card to a teacher, pastor or volunteer
We’ve all had someone this year who has impacted our lives for the better. It might be a medical professional, teacher, pastor – or a volunteer at your favourite charity. These are important but often thankless roles, and your words of gratitude could brighten their whole year.
4. Let someone go ahead of you in the shopping line
Wow! Big call at this time of year, when shoppers are many and time is precious. All the more reason to extend this act of kindness to a perfect stranger, and turn the tension into blissful relief.
5. Tell a silly joke to make someone laugh
Laughter is good medicine – especially for the stress of the season. So don’t wait until you crack your Christmas bonbons. Find a funny meme, video or tell a joke today and give someone a good ol’ belly laugh.
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6. Tape gold coins to a ticket booth or vending machine
How good would you feel if someone left you the money to buy a train ticket when you are out of change, or can of soft drink on a hot summer day? You might even be inspired to pay-it-forward! Why not start a chain reaction with a few small coins?
7. Compliment a workmate, friend or family member
It’s easy to see the fault in others, but how often do we take the time to see the good? Look for some great qualities in the first person you see today and let them know what you admire about them.
8. Leave a kind post-it note for someone to find
This could be for anyone – even a stranger! Write something encouraging or uplifting on a post-it note and leave it where you know someone will find it today.
9. Smile at everyone you see
Smiling is contagious – when you smile at someone, it’s hard for them not to smile back (even in amusement). Smiling releases pain-relieving endorphins and natural anti-depressants, making it beneficial for both the giver and receiver.
10. Pay for a stranger’s coffee
While it may seem awkward at first, buying a coffee for someone standing in the coffee line behind you means you’ve given them a gift they were truly hoping for.
11. Call a relative you haven’t seen all year
This can be a very lonely time for many people, particularly for those who have lost loved ones throughout the year. There are others who have chosen to cut themselves off from family and friends. No matter how much Uncle Burt upset you with his gruff exterior in the past, he is likely to be pleasantly surprised by a call of well wishes from you this Christmas.
12. Clean up all the wrapping paper and recycle what you can
Double the kindness by helping those around you, and the planet at the same time. Christmas has no shortage of unwanted wrapping paper, so be the one who takes on the challenge of not only cleaning up but sorting what can be recycled.
Trying one or two (or even all) of these acts of kindness will truly make it a Happy Christmas for all involved.
Article supplied with thanks to Kim Wilkinson, a media and communications professional who specialises in building community and valuable relationships.