Now that the holidays are upon us, ’tis the season for taking a step back, getting cozy in a lounge chair, and indulging in life’s simplest gifts. It’s also the season of gratitude and giving back. Because if there’s anything the countless Christmas movies we’ve watched over the years have taught us, it’s that being generous is always a good idea.
When you perform acts of kindness – be they big or small – you’re positively impacting the world, and yourself, much more than you might think. Good deeds have a ripple effect – they encourage you to give again, inspire your recipient to do the same, and motivate people around you to act with kindness, too.
Because during a season that promotes overconsumption, a little giving goes a very long way.
1. Pick a reputable charity
Before opening your check book or logging into your PayPal account, do some research. Find a charity you feel passionate about through sites like Volunteer Match, Guidestar and Charity Navigator – all great resources for choosing the right nonprofit for you, and making sure it’s a reputable one.
2. Volunteer at a local food shelter or soup kitchen
It’s cold out, and many people are hungry. Dedicating a day to volunteering at a soup kitchen not only means you’re feeding those less fortunate, it’s also a great opportunity to talk to people from different walks of life and gain a new perspective.
3. Donate cans to a food bank
Collect a bunch of food cans, donate them to a food bank, and help reduce the amount of people who are hungry this holiday season. It’s a simple but effective way to lend a helping hand.
4. Donate your old jackets, coats and sweaters
You know those old coats you have sitting in the far corner of your wardrobe? The ones you haven’t worn in months… or perhaps even years? Yeah, those ones. Group them into a bag and donate them to a charity to help keep someone else warm during the winter.
5. Buy books for the homeless
Books can change lives. They can ignite our imaginations, awaken new ideas and perspectives, teach us things we didn’t know, or simply allow us to get lost in a fantasy world that isn’t our own.
6. Donate blood
Save a life; donate blood. The American Red Cross encourages people to be blood donors, and your donation will really make a difference. In fact, just one pint of donated blood can save up to three lives.
7. Volunteer at an animal shelter
Spend some time caring for (and cuddling!) furry friends at a shelter over the holidays. Or, you can simply donate blankets, food and pet toys and treats.
8. Treat your neighbors
Connect with your community through small acts of kindness. Bake some cookies for the people next door. Make a batch of muffins for the old lady across the street. Invite a family over for dinner one night. Bask in the festive spirit.
9. Call an old friend
The holidays are a great time to re-connect with people you haven’t heard from in a while. Why not call that friend you haven’t spoken to in years? It’ll make their day – and maybe yours, too.
10. Give a compliment a day
Sometimes, making someone’s day can be as simple as a compliment. A comment of praise on a friend’s delicious homemade pumpkin soup. A appreciative remark on your co-worker’s joyous laugh. A few flattering words to waitstaff about their attentive approach. The only catch? It has to be genuine.
And hey, you may just love the feeling of giving to others so much that your generous festive spirit lives on well past Christmas.