Are you feeling the need to give a little back? With the holidays coming up, Advice columnist Dear Wendy shares 25 random acts of kindness anyone can commit.
I know many of us tend to feel overwhelmed during the holiday season, strapped for cash, and unable to get into the spirit. I've always felt that doing something good for someone else is one of the best ways to feel better and improve your own mood. To help inspire you, here are 25 different acts of kindness you might be able to commit (and only a handful involve spending money).
- Send a card to a soldier overseas.
- Send a card to a terminally ill child.
- Let the person behind you have the parking spot you're both driving around looking for.
- Bake some cookies and drop them off at places where people have to work on Christmas — hospitals, firehouses, police stations, subway stops, etc.
- Know someone going out of town for a few days? Offer to water plants or feed the cats.
- Offer to shovel snow for a neighbor.
- Give a homeless person a gift certificate to a sandwich chain.
- Help a neighbor carry groceries or packages to her door.
- Leave some tissue in the stall that's run out of toilet paper.
- Donate something to a school shooting victim.
- Send your favorite blogger, newspaper columnist, or local radio DJ a fan letter.
- If you see a single parent in the airport this holiday season, juggling a million things, plus a kid or two, ask if you can help with anything (thank you!).
- Trade your aisle seat for the middle seat of very tall person (or old person or a person with a baby).
- Share your umbrella if it's raining. (Back when Jackson was a newborn, we got caught in the rain without an umbrella one afternoon, and a woman saw us from across the street, ran over, and actually gave us her umbrella. It was so kind and really boosted my spirits!)
- Tip a street musician, look him or her in the eye, and say, "Thank you."
- Offer to take someone's shopping cart back inside.
- Tell your co-workers you appreciate them.
- If you know someone with small kids, offer to babysit (for free) for an hour or two, so she can do last-minute Christmas shopping or wrap gifts or just take a nap. (We have a friend who lives on our block, who babysits Jackson once a month — while he's sleeping — when her husband plays poker, so we can enjoy a dinner out. This is so kind and so appreciated!)
- Offer to give someone a ride home from work/class/a holiday party.
- Give up your taxi to the person waiting behind you.
- Give blood.
- Pay for someone's coffee.
- Overtip the waitress.
- Help a mother carry a stroller up a flight of subway stairs.
- Compliment a stranger.
As I wrote this, I realized how often I've been the recipient of a random — or not so random — act of kindness, and it made me feel so grateful. Also, I realize there are countless wonderful charities and organizations people can donate their money to, but I deliberately kept this list short on money-centered ideas, because for people who are struggling financially right now, I think it's helpful to be reminded of the many ways they, too, can make a difference in people's lives without spending any money.
Any other ideas?