In the midst of searching for the perfect gift and stressing over your money situation, it’s easy to forget that the holiday season is supposed to be about giving, kindness, and happiness. This should be the one time of the year everyone focuses more on being a better person. Unfortunately, that important part of the holidays often gets lost. But maybe you’re thinking about how you would like to be a better person – a nicer, more selfless human who others look at like an angel. Wouldn’t you love to be the reason someone else feels happy?
I mean, what’s better than being happy? I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s the smallest things that make my day. A smile from a stranger, the barista who makes a heart in the foam of my latte, having someone open the door for me when my hands are full. It even makes me happy to make other people happy – so let’s do more of it!
It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or a lot of money to do a small act of kindness that will make someone’s day, and make you a better person for it. After all, you’re not trying to win an award; you don’t need recognition of your altruism to make you feel good. Just knowing that you’ve made a small difference in someone’s day is enough to make a big difference in yours. Here are 16 easy little things you can do that will make you a better person:
1. Compliment a stranger.
Whether it’s someone you pass at the mall or a classmate you rarely talk to, take 20 seconds of your day to pay someone an unexpected compliment. Telling someone something as simple as “Your skirt is so cute!” can add a huge burst of positivity to their day. And no, do not pull a Regina George.
2. Do extra chores around the house.
Don’t stop the cleaning at your bedroom door, help pick up all the rooms in the house. Wash the dishes – without being asked! Vacuum the living room, sweep the kitchen, dust off the bookshelves. Your family will be so grateful.
3. Treat your parents to a “night off.”
Wake up early and take their car to the gas station for a fill up before they go to work. Have dinner cooked and on the table when they get home. Do the laundry while they relax. Hey, making sure you’re on their Nice List close to the holidays can’t hurt!
4. Visit an animal shelter.
It shouldn’t take much convincing to get you to go play with adorable dogs and cats! Many of these animals need a little extra love, and many shelters are understaffed. Don’t adopt unless you have the time and energy to dedicate to a pet—but spending an hour or two showering them with attention at the shelter is always a good idea.
5. Donate your unused belongings to charity.
Be honest, you’re never going to wear that sequin sweatshirt again. Ditto to that dress you was so perfect for the 8th grade dance years ago. Take a look in your close. The clothes you never wear might be exactly what someone else’s wardrobe is missing. While you’re at it, go through your old toys, too. Parents looking for good deals to complete their Christmas shopping list will thank you.
6. Help our your grandparents.
Your grandparents are probably pretty old, and could use help with something. Sometimes, they don’t even need help – they just want company. Go over there for lunch or a cup of tea to spend some time with them without being asked. Surprise them! I bet it will put them in a good mood for the rest of the week, and it doesn’t even take up much of your time.
7. Make a playlist for your friend.
The days of mix tapes may be long gone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a killer Spotify playlist for your friend. It could be songs that remind you of them, a study mix for homework sessions, a list of holiday hits, or a mashup of all your favorite tunes.
8. Start eco-friendly habits.
Ditch those plastic water bottles and use a reusable one. Get your family to start recycling. Save water by taking shorter showers. Be nice to the environment! It can be a tiny change, but it makes a difference!
9. Pick up litter.
Speaking of caring for the environment. Whether you join a volunteer team who tackles a stretch of highway or a local park or you just keep an eye out for trash in the hallways of school or sidewalks in your neighborhood, help keep your community clean.
10. Shovel the neighbor’s driveway.
If you live somewhere cold enough for the white stuff, put on a hat and gloves, grab a shovel, and head out into the neighborhood. After you finish your own driveway (you’re welcome, Mom and Dad!) move onto the neighbor’s. Afterward, treat yourself to a hot chocolate to warm back up.
11. Send letters to soldiers.
Not everyone is able to be home for the holidays. There are many organizations that accept letters to send to troops overseas (google “sent letters to soldiers” for a start). Everyone is grateful for a little extra appreciation.
12. Give spare change to Salvation Army Santas.
All the people ringing those bells on street corners aren’t trying to be annoying. Skip the Starbucks every once in awhile and drop some extra change into the collections. The Salvation Army uses the funds raised to help people in need of food, shelter, and additional services.
13. Pay it forward.
Next time you go through your favorite drive-thru restaurant, pay for the order of the car behind you.
14. Donate to a cause you believe in.
Whatever it is you’re passionate about, there’s bound to be an organization that supports it in some way. Regardless of the size of the donation, supporting something you care about makes a difference.
15. Start a gratitude journal.
It can be easy to forget how much you have to be grateful for. Remember just how #blessed you are by writing in a journal or downloading a gratitude app. It may sound like a chore, but it quickly becomes an invigorating habit that gives you a daily reminder that even on the worst days, you can find something to appreciate.
16. Take some “me time.”
Small acts of kindness can benefit everyone—including yourself! Take a bubble bath, curl up with your favorite book, finish watching that Netflix series, bake your favorite chocolate brownies. When you’re happier, you’ll make the people around you happier, too.
Which of these tips are you going to try? What did I forget to include? Let us know in the comments!