For the last few years we've slowly gotten more intentional about the holidays. That's included a simple Advent calendar, simple decor, doing 3 simple gifts each (something to read, something to wear, and something fun/to play with), and shutting down to be with those we love. This year I wanted to keep intentional Christmas going after Thanksgiving, as it should be. Then we got Target's toy catalog in the mail and saw the cutest Advent calendar at Trader Joe's, and I realized intentions needed to be set now before ads and product placement took us over.
My sister-in-law and I decided we'd like to do an Acts of Kindness advent calendar with our kids to focus on giving and serving this season. I'll likely use these >> envelopes I made a couple years ago, and put a simple act of kindness or two in each one. The kids want to start the countdown now. We're resisting the urge, and instead focusing on thankfulness now. But this is a good time for us to start brainstorming acts of kindness we could do.
Also, November 13 is World Kindness Day, so a good time to even try a few ideas out!
I wanted to keep these ideas easy and free (or at least cheap). Some of them might cost a little more in time or money, some are more for kids, some are more for adults, and some take some planning ahead. You'll find some of your typical "random acts of kindness," and others are more intentional acts to build community and reach out to others in a deeply meaningful way. Hopefully there's an idea, or a few, you can use!
1. Do/help with a chore that's usually someone else's responsibility.
2. Read to someone.
3. Open/hold the door for others throughout the day.
4. Let someone go ahead of you in line.
5. Send a card in the mail.
6. Bake something and share it with the neighbor.
7. Invite someone over and share a drink or snack or meal.
8. Create winter care kits for homeless to keep handy in the car.
9. Get a couple $10 coupons for a food place to keep on hand for people in need.
10. Find a homeless person and give them warm socks, a food gift card, or a care kit.
11. Take a meal to someone going through a difficult time.
12. Babysit for free so the parents can get a break or go on a date.
13. Rake someone else's yard--or shovel or mow or weed.
14. Pay for the person behind you in the fast food drive thru.
15. Write encouraging words to people on Instagram or Facebook.
16. Leave a card, picture, or small gift in a public place (park bench, bathroom counter, etc.).
17. Try to compliment or praise whoever you talk to throughout the day.
18. Take someone flowers or a plant, or leave them on their porch.
19. Collect food or other needs for a local shelter.
20. Write thank you notes to people who have made an impact in your life.
21. Take donuts or another treat to share with coworkers or classmates.
22. Sit with someone who is alone and start a conversation.
23. Experience something with someone you care about--visit a museum, or go to the zoo.
24. Invite someone to coffee and pay for their drink. Or deliver it to them.
25. Write a note and put it where someone doesn't expect--lunch box, desk drawer, etc.
26. Call and talk to someone who you know would enjoy a phone call.
27. Buy a gift for a child in need.
28. Give books you've read to people you think might enjoy them.
29. Try to only say positive things all day.
30. Smile and say hello to everyone you pass.
31. Talk with a friend, ask questions, and listen intently.
32. Be kind to yourself. Take a break, destress, think positive thoughts.
33. Volunteer your talents or services to help someone--take photos, write, design, organize, whatever, just do it for free.
34. Remember someone who has shared a dream or goal with you, and follow up and encourage them in it.
35. Smile and wave from the car as you pass people.
36. Be kind to the earth by buying less, reusing more, and recycling.
37. Promote a friend's blog or small business to people you think might be interested or on your Facebook.
38. Send an email to a writer you enjoy and share your appreciation.
39. Thank a nurse, teacher, police officer, mail man, or other service person with a card, a handshake, or a treat.
40. Pick up trash in your community, or a neglected place nearby.
41. Help someone else be kind. Offer to deliver their gift or baked goods, or contribute to their act of kindness somehow.
42. Hand out balloons or flowers or treats to people on the street.
43. Rub a family members back or neck or feet.
44. Put a kind phrase or encouraging message on your car, your desk, front door, or somewhere else people will see it throughout the day.
45. Spend a day "in real life." Try to stay off your phone and off your computer whenever possible and be attentive to life happening all around.
46. Carry quarters or dollar bills and leave them in tip or donation jars you usually avoid.
47. Tell someone you don't know they're doing a good job--a parent, store clerk, doctor, etc.
48. Remember someone you've said "we should hang out" to, then make it happen.
49. Spend most of the day listening.
50. Pass your magazine on or leave it in public for someone else to read.
51. List items you're getting rid of for free on Craigslist.
52. Attend an event a friend is planning.
53. Donate old eyeglasses.
54. Volunteer during activity time in a local nursing home--play games, sing songs, or deliver kids' artwork.
55. Make a list of what you love about someone and share it with them.
56. Find natural ways to reach out and touch others--hug, shake hands, pat on the back, high five.
57. Ask someone to share what they're thankful for, current blessings, or answers to prayer.
58. Clean up after yourself. At the restaurant, at work or school, in your room.
59. Share a positive post or photo or video online.
60. Clean out your closet and pass good quality stuff on to friends or donate, and tie up rags or unwearable items and label "recycle" and drop off at Goodwill.
61. Clean out the kids toys. Choose some to pass on to others.
62. Visit/tour a local shelter and find ways your family or small group can help by donating items or volunteering time.
63. Send holiday cards that focus on others--showing interest in their lives and appreciation for their presence in yours.
64. Share jokes throughout the day.
65. Go geocaching and leave a fun surprise for the next person.
66. Leave heads up pennies on sidewalks.
67. Record a message and text or email it to a faraway friend or family member.
68. Help raise money for a cause you care about, or at least raise awareness.
69. Work together on a meal and cleaning up after it.
70. Invite someone into the conversation or to sit at your table.
71. Sponsor a child in another part of the world--learn about their needs and culture.
72. Learn about homelessness and foster care, etc. in your hometown and choose one way to donate or volunteer--through a shelter or backpack program or supporting a foster family.
73. Offer to help a friend organize or simplify--a second opinion and a cheerleader can go a long way.
74. Ask someone else what they want for Christmas.
75. Ask others their favorite holiday memories or favorite seasonal pleasantries.
76. Ask someone to tell you their story--how they moved to town, a life-changing moment, a miracle they've experienced.
77. Ask for help--don't wait for others to volunteer and definitely don't brush them off. Most tasks are better done together.
78. Host a shower, party, or small group in your home.
79. Walk through the neighborhood and say hi or leave treats on people's doors.
80. Ask your pastor or kids' teacher or other community leader how they need help or support.
81. Teach someone something--lead a class at the community center, tutor someone, or offer to help someone starting a hobby or activity you already know well.
82. Send a reverse Christmas wish list. Write all the things you hope or wish for someone else, and send it to them.
83. Take a project on with someone--help with a DIY or home project.
84. Dance with your kids or spouse or roommate.
85. Exercise with someone.
86. Play a game with someone.
87. Make something and give it away--a painting, a quilt, a scarf.
88. Share a fun, funny, or complimenting memory with an old friend.
89. Plan date night or a family fun day.
90. Have a girls' night and invite someone new.
91. Fill out a suggestion card and give compliments.
92. Return something borrowed with something extra (a movie with popcorn, a book with a bookmark, a shirt with a scarf).
93. Get some rest and drink water--basic self-care makes us all a little kinder ;)
94. Encourage someone going through something you've already been through.
95. Think before you speak or comment online.
96. Tell someone you missed them when they don't show up at a usual place.
97. Take a crazy selfie and text it to a friend.
98. Tell someone how you see you Jesus in them or working in their life.
99. Quickly look up from the computer, tv, or phone when someone is talking to you.
100. Consider when someone's kindness meant something to you, then pay it forward.