‘Tis the season for random acts of kindness, acts of service, and general do-goodery. I know I’m a day late, but I’ve decided to post a list of 31 random acts of kindness that you can complete in December – one for each day of the month.
Of course, you can shuffle them around, skip the ones that won’t work for your family/schedule, add your own, and/or repeat your favorites. You can use this list as a checklist to complete individually or with the whole family or you can pick your favorites and just do those. Random acts of kindness are my favorite part of the Christmas season (and one of my favorite things to do all year long). I have been on the receiving end of some of the items on this list, and I can guarantee you – they will make someone’s day so much brighter.
So, without further ado… here are 31 random acts of kindness to brighten the lives of the people around you.
(Oh, and you can download a free printable of the 31 random acts of kindness by clicking on this link… and it would make my day if you shared this with your friends by pinning the post.)
Quick and Easy Random Acts of Kindness
1. Take someone dinner.
Just double your recipe and take the extra to a family or individual who could use some extra time. Choose someone new to the area, someone going through a hard time, or just someone who could use some love. Everybody loves a night off from cooking.
2. Compliment someone on Facebook.
We all know that the internet can be a mean place. Take a minute (or an hour) to compliment one (or many) of your Facebook friends. It can be uncomfortable to write a genuine compliment if it’s not something you are used to. You may think, “man, this person is going to think I am totally weird for saying this…” Don’t feel that way. People will appreciate the love, and they won’t think you’re weird. Keep it genuine and kind, and you will make their day.
3. Leave positive sticky notes on bathroom mirrors.
You can do this anywhere public. Take a pad of post-its (name brand ones really do stick better, and that’s coming from a frugal living ninja) and write things like, “You look great today.” or “Wow. Just wow!” Someone did this at church one Sunday, and it was such a sweet gesture. It only takes a second and think of all the people you can make smile.
4. Leave a note on someone’s car.
I personally would prefer to do this to someone that I know pretty well, but you could do it to a stranger if you feel it’s appropriate. Just leave a sweet message or an inspirational quote and let them find it next time they get in the car. If you are doing this to a stranger, definitely do it in a public and well-lit place so nobody thinks you are trying to break in…
5. Tape an envelope with dollar bills to hospital vending machines.
Hospitals are scary and depressing places. Being there during the holidays is extra hard. Make things a little brighter by taping an envelope with dollar bills to the waiting room vending machine. Write a note that says, “Have a snack on me to ease the stress.” or something along those lines. You can even write “leave a dollar if you’d like to keep the love going”. You’ll be surprised how many people will jump in and participate.
6. Promote a friend’s work.
You know all kinds of people who freelance or own their own businesses. Whether it’s your blogger friend, the realtor who helped you buy your house, the photography who does your family photos every year, or your high school friend who designs apps / just published a novel / has a cool youtube channel, it will mean the world to them if you promote their business/service/website. Take 15 minutes to follow their social media, pin their posts, write a review, or share their website on your Facebook page. Know someone who would love what they do/sell/produce? Even better, make the connection. You’ll be supporting small businesses and helping a friend.
7. Stock up your car.
Put some extra things in your car for the explicit purpose of giving them out at a later date. You can add one thing or many, depending on how much time, money, and stuff you have. I suggest: food gift cards, hygiene kits, blankets, umbrellas, coats, shoes, socks, gloves, and hats. You never know when you will run into someone in need (whether it’s a homeless person or just someone hesitant to enter the rain). Being prepared now means you can serve later.
8. Give your mailman hot chocolate.
It’s cold outside, and your mailman or mailwoman is extra busy this time of year. Make some hot chocolate and put it in a nice reusable cup. When he or she comes up to your door, run outside and hand him or her a little bit of warmth. If you’re feeling extra nice, you can always tie a gift card around the mug to a local coffeehouse, restaurant, or gas station.
9. Invite someone to dinner.
This doesn’t have to be anyone in particular. It can be a friend, someone who is struggling, or someone who might be lonely this time of year. Just invite someone to dinner and have fun hanging out over good food.
10. Give someone a copy of your favorite book/CD/movie.
We all have a book/CD/movie that changed our lives. Buy an extra copy (it’s probably super cheap on Amazon) and give it to someone you think will appreciate it.
11. Spend some time donating free rice on www.freerice.com.
Freerice.com is a really cool website. Just choose a category, answer some trivia questions (yes, you actually LEARN while you are doing a good deed), and they will donate 10 grains of rice for every answer you get correct. This is a great way to practice vocabulary, math, science, and other trivia facts. Plus, you can watch your rice accumulate. All rice is donated by corporate sponsors.
12. Leave dollar bills in a toy section at the dollar store.
What kid wouldn’t love to find a dollar right next to the toy they really really want. Stick a few dollar bills in the toy section of the local dollar store and surprise a child with a free gift.
13. Tape quarters to gumball (and other candy) machines.
This is pretty self-explanatory. If you want, you can attach them to cute little cards or you can just tape a quarter to each machine you can find. Once again, you will certainly make someone’s day in a small but exciting way.
Time-Intensive Random Acts of Kindness
14. Go Christmas caroling.
You can go around your neighborhood, in a random neighborhood, or to a nursing home. Get a group of friends and/or family together (kids LOVE to participate) and go caroling. Then head back to your house for some hot chocolate.
15. Make foster care kit(s).
Going into foster care is a scary thing for kids. Many times, they only have the clothes they were wearing when they went to school that day. Create one or many foster care kits and donate them to your local DCFS. Things to include: toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, hair ties, blanket, stuffed animal, coloring book, journal, notepad, crayons, pens, flashlight, nightlight, a couple of snacks.
16. Bake cookies.
Bake cookies to give to a neighbor, a friend, or to drop off at a local fire or police station. Everyone loves cookies…
17. Babysit for free.
You definitely know someone who could use a night without the kids this season. Offer to babysit for free. You can go to their house or you could have a babysitting night at your own home. Invite a couple of families to bring their kids and maximize your service. Just make sure you have plenty of activities for the kids to do.
18. Volunteer somewhere.
You could volunteer at a food pantry, a local shelter, a consignment shop that sells on behalf of a nonprofit, a school, or a local nonprofit. If you don’t know where to volunteer, just google “______ county, state volunteer”. My favorite place to volunteer is my local Head Start agency. I love reading to the kids or helping with public relations stuff. No matter what your skill set, there is somewhere for you to volunteer. This is also a great time to volunteer as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army.
19. Mail a hand-written letter.
It is so cool to receive snail mail, and it’s so rare. Write a letter to an old friend or someone who has made a difference in your life. It doesn’t have to be long – just genuine and thoughtful. And, of course, don’t forget to mail it…
20. Donate your old stuff.
Clean out your clothes, the kids’ toys, your kitchen. You have so much stuff, and there’s just going to be more after the holidays. Clear it all out now and donate it to a worthy cause. You might be able to find a family in need on a local facebook buy/sell/trade group (there are usually posts this time of year about families who’ve lost everything in fires). You can also donate to shelters, a family you know, or resale shops that support good causes in your community.
21. Shovel your neighbor’s walk.
It snowed, and you already have to dig out your sidewalk and car. While you’re at it, why don’t you go do the neighbor’s sidewalk too. This is especially great if you have elderly neighbors or teenage children to help.
22. Write a letter to the elderly.
(For the record, my Grandma HATED being called elderly.) There are so many older people in the world who don’t have family to care for them and spend time with them. Hopefully, the older people in your life don’t fall into that category. If they do, call them, write them, and spend time with them while you still can! But if you are looking to do more and reach out to those who have nobody, consider writing a letter via LoveForTheElderly.org. You can write a letter and mail it to:
Love for the Elderly
P.O. Box 24248
Cleveland, OH 44124
They will pass the letter on to someone in a nursing home, assisted living, or hospice. Alternatively, you could always write a few letters, buy a few cards, or draw a few pictures and take them to your local nursing home.
23. Get involved with MoreLoveLetters.org.
Okay, so MoreLoveLetters.org is doing something awesome. You can get involved by nominating someone who needs some extra love because they are going through something difficult. They choose people every week or two to feature, and people write letters of encouragement to those people. The letters are then delivered to whomever nominated the person who then delivers them to the person in need of cheering up. So, you should definitely nominate someone who is going through a hard time AND write a letter to someone they’ve featured.
24. Donate food to a local food pantry.
Go through your food and pull out things that are nearing expiration (nothing expired because most food pantries can’t accept it anyway). Try not to just choose the lame stuff your family hates. If your family hates it, they probably have too much of it at the food pantry anyway. If you don’t already have food to donate, call the pantry and ask what they need. Then go on a small shopping trip to purchase what you can afford to donate.
25. Visit a nursing home.
Just do it. Visiting people in nursing homes can be intimidating at first, but it is very rewarding. Sing to them, read to them, listen to them. If you have children, bring them with you. You can learn so much from older people, and many of them do not have many visitors.
26. Donate blood and/or sign up to be an organ donor.
Look for a local blood drive to donate blood. Donating blood just once can save up to three lives. If you haven’t already, you may also want to sign up to be an organ donor (or at least learn more about what that means). If you click this link, you can choose your state and register to become an organ donor.
27. Take hats, gloves, socks, and/or blankets to a homeless shelter.
They don’t have to be fancy, and they probably don’t even have to be new. See what you have around the house and/or go on a shopping trip to the dollar store for some cheap hats, gloves, and socks. Winter is incredibly cold, and every little bit helps to keep people warm.
Costly Random Acts of Kindness
28. Buy a gift off of a random couple’s registry.
Go online to Target, Amazon or Bed, Bath, & Beyond (direct links to registry directories), look up a random couple’s registry, and purchase a gift you can afford. (I dream of purchasing the most expensive thing on their registry, but let’s be realistic…) In the note section, write that you are doing this as an anonymous random act of kindness and encourage them to do something kind for someone else in their first few weeks of marriage. Not only will you be encouraging them to pass it on and giving them a great gift, but you will also be strengthening their marriage by giving them the opportunity to serve together.
29. Leave the biggest tip you can afford (or ding dong ditch money).
If you are already going out to eat and your server is nice, leave an extra large tip. It doesn’t have to be a hundred dollars, just more than you would typically give. Write a note thanking them for making your dining experience pleasant, and even contact the manager to compliment their service. Alternatively, you can leave a gift on someone’s porch with money or gift cards to a grocery store / gas station inside. Choose someone who could definitely use some extra cash this season and be the anonymous answer to their prayers.
30. Pay for someone else’s meal.
If you are in a drive-through, pay for the meal of the person behind you. If you are at a restaurant, choose an individual or family and tell the waiter or waitress you would like to pay their bill anonymously. Don’t forget to pay a generous tip too and write a note for the waiter or waitress to give to the person/people explaining why you chose them and wishing them a good day.
31. Take flowers or balloons to a hospital.
Buy flowers or balloons and take them to the hospital. Ask the nurses who needs it the most and either visit that person or ask them to give it to them. Alternatively, you can take flowers to the nurses station and thank them for their hard work and dedication to your community.
Click the image below to download the free checklist printable of the 31 random acts of kindness. Check off each act as you complete it.
What is your favorite random act of kindness? Share in the comments below.
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