holiday giving

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Whether you celebrate Christmas or Kwanza or another winter holiday, anyone can appreciate the season’s spirit. Its value is universal. The roots of winter holidays are humbling and encapsulate the spirit of giving.

That’s what the holiday season is really about. It’s about reminding everyone whose lives we touch that something magical can happen at any moment, and that human kindness is transformative. It doesn’t take much to send this message, so if you’re looking for ways to emulate St. Nick a bit, here are random acts of kindness you can do to bring out the magic of the holidays.


Surprise Decorate

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You’re never too old to have your breathe taken away by beautiful holiday decorations. People will travel miles to stroll down neighborhoods that have a reputation for going all out this time of year. There’s just something that puts a smile on a person’s face when their surroundings are beautified for the holidays. So if you know someone who cannot afford, does not have the time or does not have the strength to decorate their home, surprise decorate for them. At night when they’re sleeping, you can decorate their lawn. Or, if you have access to the inside of their home, you can simply show up with some decorations and decorate the interior.


Drop Off Anonymous Gifts For Neighbors

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If you want to bring the spirit of the holidays to your block, drop off anonymous presents with neighbors. Maybe these are boxes of candy, packaged baked goods, $5 gift cards to a local coffee shop, funny socks, dog toys or holiday stickers. If you know your neighbors well, you can hand select items to their individual needs. If you don’t know them well, you can stick to something generic. After dropping off the gifts on door steps, you can enjoy the surprised smiles on neighbors’ faces as they open their doors to find their presents. And you might find that the neighbors are all a bit friendlier for a while.


Leave A Large Tip

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You can be certain that any server taking your order at a restaurant around the holidays could use some extra cash. This is an expensive time of year for everyone, and restaurant staff don’t traditionally make a lot of money. They do, however, deal with customers who stiff them on tips and are rude to them. For them, holiday magic means an easy going customer who leaves a generous tip. So that could be you. If you can afford it, leave a surprisingly large tip and a note wishing them a happy holidays.


Bring Toys To A Pet Shelter

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Pet shelters go through toys rapidly as their four-legged residents chew and tear them up. Of course, pet shelters need all sorts of donations, and if you’d like to donate beds, food, towels and other necessities, those will be appreciated. The holidays, however, should include a little something special for everyone – including animals. So consider bringing in a basket of new toys to a pet shelter. It not only brings joy to the animals but also to the staff as they get to watch the pets pounce on their new toys and enjoy a little play in the sometimes dreary environment of a shelter.


Entertain At A Senior Home

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While the hope is that every senior citizen has friends or family visit them, that isn’t the case for all. The holidays can be especially lonesome for those living in senior living facilities. If friends and family are far away, they might not get to see them this time of year. Watching other residents receive visitors can be especially tough on those who have nobody stopping by. Reach out to a local senior living home and ask if you can entertain the residents. You probably have something you can do, whether it’s sing, play an instrument, tell jokes, lead them in Bingo, perform magic tricks or simply visit with them.


Let A Stranger Skip You In Line

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There are likely many times when you aren’t in a hurry and could afford to let the stressed out customer behind you skip you in line. Maybe it’s a parent with two screaming kids hanging off of her legs. She’d be glad to get out of this store sooner rather than later. Maybe it’s an elderly shopper who gets tired being on their feet for long. If you aren’t in a hurry and see someone who is, let them skip you in line. It could make their day, and it costs you nothing.


Leave A Gift For Your Mailman

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You can leave small items like packaged treats or mittens in a basket by your door for package delivery personnel. But if you want to really put a smile on the face of your mail man or mail woman, leave a gift for them inside of your mailbox. This can be a gift card to a big box retail store or a local coffee shop. Put a big note on it that specifies it’s for them. They’ll be so surprised when they open your mailbox to find that, today, there’s something waiting for them inside.


Keep Supplies In Your Car

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How often do you encounter someone who needs something and wish you had what they needed on hand? Rather than regretting not being able to help in those moments, be proactive. There are many supplies you can keep in your car that someone will need. Consider stocking up on fresh socks, beanies, protein bars, bottles of water, mittens, blankets, dog food or just single dollar bills. Pass these out to those who need them while driving around this holiday season.


Say “Yes” To Fundraising

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Usually when you see someone standing outside of the grocery store or on the sidewalk with any sort of sign or eager look on their face, you’re ready with some excuse. “I can’t today” or “Sorry I’m in a hurry.” It’s someone collecting money for the Salvation Army, someone asking for signature for a petition to put new swings up at the park, children raising funds for their new school theater by selling wrapping paper, etc. So many people reject and ignore them. Be the one who says yes. Sign the petition. Toss some money in the bucket. Buy the wrapping paper. Just one “yes” makes all of the rejection they deal with worth it.


Make Dinner For Someone Who Is Alone

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If there is someone in your life who you know to be lonely, like a recent widow or someone who just moved to the neighborhood, invite them over for dinner. So often we get in our heads about an act like this thinking, “I won’t have time to do this often and don’t want to set a precedent.” Don’t think like that. Just one dinner would mean so much to this person. You never know when that one invitation pulls someone out of a place of despair.

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