The holiday season is known to be one of the most wonderful times of the year, filled with the cheerful tunes of Christmas music and the buzz of anticipation for the holiday break.
However, it is also easy to feel overwhelmed and be unable to get into the spirit during the holiday season because of its highly commercial aspect – buying gifts. Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely to show your appreciation through gifts but it isn’t the only way to give. Some of the best parts of the holidays are that it inspires everyone to be better to each other, give a little more, and be a little nicer. The altruism brought on by the holiday season is best reflected through small acts of kindness. Go beyond giving gifts and instead give your time, words, and love to those around you. A simple act of kindness can make you feel just as good (if not better than) when you give someone a gift. It is also often free or very cheap, and doesn’t take up much time – perfect for all the cash-strapped students out there!
1. Thank somebody with a heartfelt note.
Too often, words go unsaid for kindness from others. Handwrite a note for your relatives, friends, or even that T.A. who put in the extra time to help you out with your essay. Tell somebody how much you appreciate them and how they impacted your life. A heartfelt note goes a long way in expressing your gratitude for somebody, often more so than an expensive gift!
Volunteer at a soup kitchen, local church, or for a local organization like Habitat for Humanity. You may no longer need to put in 40 hours of volunteering to graduate like in high school, but it is an amazing way to impact someone in a positive way without costing a penny.
3. Donate non-perishables to your local food bank.
For some, the holiday season conjures up memories of full tables of food year after year. However, not everyone is as lucky and the holiday season is the perfect time to help put food on the table for those relying on food banks to do so. Go a step further in sharing the Christmas cheer and get a group of friends to volunteer to sort the food collected during the holiday food drives!
4. Help carry groceries or packages for a stranger (or friend).
Spot a neighbour walking home or from the car with their hands full? Offer to give them a hand. This simple task takes little to no time and is extremely helpful.
5. De-clutter your home and donate.
When you are home for the holidays, take the time to collect the things sitting around unused. There are probably tons of warm clothes, furniture, tools, toys, and more that could go somewhere that really needs it. This can be a win-win situation – your items will be put to good use and your home will be a little cleaner!
6. Hold the door for someone.
This one is so easy but often forgotten. Make a conscious effort to hold to hold the door for a few people every day. It is very easy but also very appreciated.
7. Give someone a genuine compliment.
This can be anyone – your friends, family, a classmate, a stranger! This small but sweet gesture can go a long way in brightening someone’s day. It can be anything from a simple “you look great today” to a more meaningful “you should be proud of yourself”. Be a person’s ray of sunshine today!
8. Shovel a neighbour’s driveway when it snows.
There will most certainly be a day when driveways are full of snow during the winter in Canada (especially in London). Take an extra 10 minutes out of your day and shovel someone else’s driveway, or even better, an elderly neighbour’s, who may struggle with doing this. Rest assured that they will be very appreciative!
9. Pay for the coffee order of the person after you in line.
In line at Starbucks, Tim’s, or the Spoke? Ask to pay for the coffee of the person after you in line. This small treat that costs less than three dollars can make someone’s day and often lead to that person paying it forward to the person after them. Initiate a little act of kindness and leave a big impact.
10. Leave a sweet post-it note somewhere.
It can be in the cubicle at a library or on a bathroom mirror. Grab a post-it note and put a motivating quote or encouraging words on it. You never know how much someone needs those few encouraging words to help get them through a tough day, especially during finals season.
I hope you make an effort to spread the holiday cheer to someone this season with at least one of these small acts of kindness. Take the time to also reflect on the small acts of kindness you have been a recipient of without even realizing. Anyone can make a difference in someone’s life with a little bit of time and a giving spirit, all without spending a penny. Give a little kindness this season and you never know what you might receive back.