As we approach the end of what was another challenging year for so many, holiday cheer might seem hard to find. The strains and stresses of everyday life may try to overshadow the joy that the holiday season is known to bring. And lately, we’ve collectively had to deal with situations that go above and beyond “everyday” challenges.
But we don’t have to let our current circumstances steal our holiday joy!
If you’re looking to put the spark back into your holiday season, it’s time to take on some magic-making of your own. Holiday cheer is a spirit that you can create by spreading love and kindness to the people around you.
And here’s the best part: being kind to others can also cheer you up. Studies show that happy people who do good things for others become even happier. If you need a mood pick-me-up, doing good deeds is a great way to go about it.
When looking for ways to spread holiday cheer, remember that small acts of kindness can have the biggest impact. Write a thank you note to a local volunteer. Offer a friend a ride to the airport. Donate anonymously. Even the smallest acts of good can go a long way and bring a smile to someone’s face.
Looking for inspiration? Here are 10 easy ways to spread Holiday Cheer this season:
1. Thank volunteers. If you’re unable to make a volunteer commitment this season, thank those who can. Send a note to your local fire department or a thank you letter to shelter volunteers. Or make sure those Salvation Army volunteers ringing holiday bells stay warm too with gloves, hats and coffee or hot cocoa (and donate to their cause while you’re at it!
2. Mind your manners. When you’re out and about this holiday season, small acts of kindness can make a world of difference. Say thank you to your postal worker, let someone go in front of you in the crowded grocery line or smile at a stressed-out employee who may be overworked.
3. Buy — or bake — a little extra. Another way to spread cheer without breaking the bank, or your schedule, is by doing a little extra of something you were already planning. Baking Christmas cookies? Make an extra batch for the local nursing home. Cooking up a big meal? Drop some off at the homeless shelter. Or if you’re doing some shopping, purchase toys for children in need. There are plenty of programs, like the Together Rising’s Holiday Hands that can make sure your gift gets to people in need.
4. Ease someone’s travel. Holiday months mean peak travel time — and the stress that comes with it. Give a friend or neighbor a ride to the airport or offer to pick someone up. It can make a big difference in what can be a very stressful travel time.
5. Spread the warmth. Heating and utility costs during winter months can climb quickly. Is there someone you know who’s short on cash? A family in the neighborhood going through a tough time? Call the electric company and anonymously pay their gas or electric bill for the month.
6. Be a friend. The holidays may not be full of joy for everyone. They can be a lonely time for someone who has lost a loved one or doesn’t have nearby friends and family. If you know someone who is finding this holiday season tough, make sure to include them. Invite them to your gatherings, or just spend some extra time with them one on one. Be there when they need you but know that if they want to be alone sometimes, that’s OK too.
7. Donate anonymously. It doesn’t take long to go online, search out a cause that matters to you and make a donation. Before you donate, though, make sure you do your research. Use these tips to give back wisely. As always, we also recommend Together Rising as a great place to start. Here’s why.
8. Write a letter to strengthen bonds. Many people have made a difference in your life. This season, remember to tell them. Write a letter to a friend or loved one, or reconnect with someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Expressing how you feel and how much they mean to you is the perfect holiday gift.
9. Sing a song. What’s more festive, spirited, and soothing than music? If you don’t know of a caroling group already, gather one together to make rounds in your neighborhood or take your tunes to an assisted living facility and fill the halls with song.
10. Foster a pet. Make a new friend this season by fostering a cat or dog. Animal shelters can get chilly in winter weather, which is a great reason to take a pet back to your warm home. Do you love dogs, but not sure if you’re ready for the commitment? Or maybe you want to teach the kids the responsibilities that come with owning pet. For these reasons and more, taking care of an animal is a great way to spread the love this season.
For more ways to give — and give back — this season, check out Volunteer Match or participate in a Together Rising Love Flash Mob. With so many amazing organizations making a difference in your community, it’s easy to keep the candle burning on doing good all year round.