Blessed to be a blessing: acts of kindness for Christmas

29 November 2012

Hello, friends! Something different for you today.

We worship online with Church of the Resurrection every Sunday in addition to attending our local church. Both pastors are fantastic, but I particularly felt moved by Adam Hamilton’s message this past Sunday. It was about very specific ways we can prepare for the season of Advent, and I would highly encourage you to listen to it when you have a spare half hour! Click here to do so.

Well, John and I felt even more moved to shine a light outwards this season after listening, and we’ve been discussing lots of ways we might do that ever since. I wanted to share one approach with you. I’ve been brainstorming and collecting ideas over the past few weeks for it (like from this awesome Pinterest star!), and now that I have my favorites, I’m excited to unleash them on my community! :)

I wanted to share them with you here, in the hopes that you, too, might be moved to shine your light outward this season. To treat others as better than yourself. To love others as HE does. To focus outward on the joy of giving and the things we are able to do for others, rather than inward on ourselves. We ARE blessed to be a blessing, and if we are open to the possibilities all around us for blessing others, I think we will find that we are blessed beyond measure. There is great JOY in giving!!

SO here they are! My favorite 25 ideas for showing love and kindness to the people around me this Christmas. There seem to be a lot of resources floating around for those with kids (I think Courtney’s are particularly great!), but since it’s just John and I, and I don’t think a lot of y’all have children, I wanted to focus on acts that might be better suited to those in this stage of life!

1. Pay for the person behind you in line at the drive-through of your choice
2. Leave a present in the mailbox for your mail carrier (John wanted me to clarify that it should be left near or on top of the mailbox instead of inside it, and should be clearly marked, so as to avoid mail tampering concerns…)
3. Bake and deliver goodies to someone who would appreciate the pick me up (suggestions: firemen, police officers, garbarge collectors, apartment complex office workers, those guys at the oil change place who are really nice). Doesn’t have to be fancy – boxed brownies with added chocolate chips are delicious!!
4. Donate food to a food pantry (our church collects and delivers food every week, so we’ll be taking extra this month!)
5. Keep a stash of candy canes with notes tied on in your purse, and hand them out to anyone you see who might need a little treat — cashiers, deli workers, taxi drivers…
6. Leave quarters and a note at a laundromat
7. Leave a note and the correct amount of change on a vending machine
8. Ask the librarians if you can pay someone else’s past due fee.
9. Feed parking meters (unclear whether this is technically illegal or not…)
10. Buy a gift card for groceries then turn around and hand it to the next person in line
11. Leave an extra big tip at a restaurant
12. Pick up the bill for someone else at a restaurant
13. Keep a stash of granola bars and water bottles in your car and hand them out to the homeless at stop lights.
14. Leave an encouraging message in sidewalk chalk on a neighbor’s driveway*
15. Figure out something tiny, nice, and unexpected to do for your coworkers
16. Bake something for your significant other to share with his/her coworkers
17. Buy a toy for Toys for Tots or a similar program
18. Leave a comment on every blog you frequent this month. Trust me, it will make their day, especially the smaller ones :) *
19. If you live in a cold climate, scrape ice off your neighbor’s windshield in the morning*
20. Clean out your closet and donate gently-used items to appropriate organizations*
21. Collect all of the travel-size toiletries you have lying around and deliver them to a homeless/battered women’s shelter. I hear the travel-size is perfect because the people they serve are often on the move. Call to check before you go.*
22. Bring Christmas flowers (like a poinsettia!) to a nursing home and ask the front desk staff which resident would most appreciate them. Call to check before you go.
23. Volunteer to babysit for a particularly sleep-deprived friend or relative*
24. Do a chore for someone else in your household*
25. Bring a meal to a new family or someone you know who could use an extra lift.
(And a bonus) 26. Be open to the needs and opportunities that present themselves to you. Choose to leave room in your schedule and budget to seize those opportunities, and, if you’re kind of timid like me, pray for the courage to do so! :)

The asterisks mark free activities! Many more I’ve listed are super cheap. This is not about busting the budget, it’s about showing radical love to others. (Though I DO support the idea of consciously making the decision to spend extra on things like this as opposed to fulfilling another want of our own!)

I am excited to get to giving, and will surely report back closer to Christmas! If you would like to join me, I think that would be just marvelous!! Maybe I’ll even share some of your photos (if you take them?) in my wrap-up post. Feel free to email them to me or post them to the EFM Facebook page if you feel so inclined!

Be blessed this season, friends!

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November 29, 2012 8:56 am

Such a GREAT idea! I, for one, love the tip your server one because I used to be a waitress myself and I always appreciated the gesture. You NEVER know what’s going on in someone’s life – they could be working their way through college, or sending almost all their money home to their families in Mexico to start a farm/business (like many of my former coworkers!), or raising young kids! For another idea, Samaritan’s Purse is a great charity and VERY fun and rewarding :)

November 29, 2012 10:01 am

This is such a great idea! I love random acts of kindness and just doing little things to make a persons day. You never know what someone is going through in their life when you meet them. I will definitely be taking some of these into consideration :) Thank you so much for sharing!

November 29, 2012 10:05 am

I love this list! Such a great reminder to be an example of God’s love for us this holiday season! Thanks Em! :)

November 29, 2012 11:22 am

Love this list, so inspiring and I can’t wait to put some of them into action!

November 29, 2012 11:41 am

Wonderful ideas, Em! The Church of the Resurrection is actually my grandparent’s home church. Such a great message! Thanks for sharing!

November 29, 2012 1:37 pm

Another nice idea is to leave (wrapped or unwrapped) gloves for the people who collect your trash. My dad did this one year and it has always stuck with me as I am sure the men were very appreciative.

November 29, 2012 3:04 pm

Thanks so much for sharing Emily! I’m planning on making an advent calendar for my husband that was going to include little notes, treats, fun Christmas activities and now I include little acts of kindness that we can both do! Love it!

November 29, 2012 3:05 pm

Great ideas! I saw these on a blog forever ago with a slideshow of all the photos (all done in day, 30 acts of kindness when she turned 30!!), which is a neat birthday thing to do, too! Steven and I have a tradition of shopping for angel babies & it’s something we look forward to each year!

November 29, 2012 3:12 pm

OH! HA! You posted that link of the birthday :) I had not clicked it yet!

November 29, 2012 4:23 pm

Great thoughts- thank you!!

November 29, 2012 7:47 pm

My a counselor at an elem school. We are encouraging our students to show kindness and compassionate to others. It has been awesome. Thanks for the new ideas!

November 29, 2012 9:05 pm

Saw this list on Pinterest. My husband and I attend COR and were also inspired by this weeks message! Cheers to radical hospitality :)

November 30, 2012 12:42 pm

I love this list! I am the philanthropy chair for my sorority, and I have been looking for a random acts of kindness list for some time now to share with my sisters, and this is a great one!

November 30, 2012 10:23 pm

I just started 30 days of random acts before Christmas (actually a little more than 30) I gave the Salvation Army bell ringer a bottle of water, some snacks & gave it to him as I left the WalMart market. The smile on his face was priceless!

December 1, 2012 12:47 pm

I just came upon your site and LOVE these ideas! Thank you so much for posting them.

December 1, 2012 8:12 pm

I truly love this! Thank you for helping me think of others during the Christmas season!:) One of the ways I’ve heard it is “Blessed to Decorate Nations”

G. Gornowicz
December 2, 2012 6:35 pm

Just lovely, We attend here in Kansas City at the Downtown Campus. An amazing community.
This church truly does live out this message.

December 4, 2012 1:24 pm

Thank you so much for posting this list, Emily. I shared it with my husband last weekend and we plan to join you this month in spreading His love and blessing those around us. Merry Christmas!

December 5, 2012 9:00 pm

Such a fantastic list, Emily! Thanks so much for sharing it with all of us. You and John are such an inspiration. Keep it up!!!

December 17, 2012 1:34 pm

Love, love, love this list. Thanks for posting, Emily!

December 19, 2012 1:08 pm

i have been “coffee elfing” this week but plan to add more random acts to the list too!!

December 19, 2012 7:05 pm

Love this! My friend shared your blog with me today I wrote down a few and actually tipped someone the amt of my
Bill today and she lit up, it was a great feeling! I was more thankful than she was… The fact that I can give is a blessing!!

[…] to try it out this week and weekend. If you need a few ideas, I wrote a little post on my blog here with some simple ways to pass along the […]

December 3, 2013 8:39 pm

This was posted a year ago, and it is still making an impact! Talk about a Random Act of Kindness-thank you!

December 7, 2013 2:00 am

This list is wonderful! I have been feeling a little empty inside because I haven’t really had any idea how to do small things in a big way for other people. I am inspired now!

December 7, 2014 3:55 pm

This was posted a while ago, but it has great ideas! I am glad you linked back to this post. I can incorporate some of these ideas this season. Thank you for the inspiration!