7 Easy Ways To Pay It Forward This Holiday Season

It’s so easy to become wrapped up in ourselves this time of year, with all of the presents to buy, parties to attend and preparations to be made.  Wow, I’m totally guilty of being very self-centered lately.  With my broken ankle still on the mend, continuously trying to get our house organized from our move and our toddler, lovingly known as hurricane Gia, I just haven’t thought much about anything besides myself and my family.

I’m starting to take action so I can pay it forward for the holidays, instead of focusing on me, me, me.  I don’t want excuses thwarting me from helping another, so this is where my little pay it forward project comes in.

Today Gia and I ran a couple of errands before her nap.  Our first stop took us to Target, which was bustling all before 9:30 a.m.  We made the rounds for a few essentials and that’s when I got the idea to create a goodie box for our UPS, FedEx and USPS delivery people.  I cannot take full credit for this idea, but I definitely put my own spin on it.

I used an old box from our move and wrapped it in festive paper, filled it with Gatorade, trail mix, protein bars and other snacks, and attached a little note expressing gratitude for the hard work of delivering packages during the exhausting and lengthy holiday season.

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After feeling proud about my mini project, I thought about additional ways that I could continue to spread some holiday cheer.  Some of the things I came up with I’ve done in the past and some are new to me.  I thought I’d share with all of you in case you’d like to keep passing on good karma.

Here are 7 ways you can pay it forward with me:

  1. Donate your time to new or exhausted parents.  My sister-in-law, Michelle inspired this one.  Michelle, her husband Jeremy, and newly crowned big bro, Jarren, just welcomed baby Jack to the family in November.  If I could offer my time to her for free babysitting, I would!  (She’s in San Diego, so logistically I can’t.)  If you know a parent or parents who could use an hour to themselves then help them out.  Bring your own kids along as playmates and helpers.  Imagine being a new parent and having the chance to get out for a few hours to do a little (peaceful) Christmas shopping, have a coffee break, or simply take a shower!  This basic act of kindness means so much to parents who desperately need a break.
  2. Be kind to someone you dislike.  Children are always watching and listening, and this I know because Gia repeats every word I say these days.  Thankfully she is always hugging and kissing her friends, family, stuffed toys and even photographs.  (I must be doing one thing right!)
  3. Be a store angel.  Leave 10 (or any other desired amount of) $1 bills in random places in the local store.  If you’re feeling extra kind, leave a little bit more for tax.  😉  Imagine how happy the single mom or dad shopping for their kids will be — or the child who wants a toy but mommy and daddy are hesitant to buy it because of the tight budget they’re maintaining.  It sounds like so little, but it makes such a HUGE difference in the lives of others who really need it.
  4. Leave a homemade treat with a kind note for your mail person in the mailbox.  These men and women are always providing us with such a thankless service every single day, regardless of weather conditions, traffic and more.  Let them know you appreciate what they do for you.
  5. Visit those who are lonely.  Some of the best gifts are not “things.”  A cheery visit to someone who lives alone may be just the nourishment they need.  Visit a neighbor or family member.  Save artwork made by your child to take as a small gift to brighten their day.
  6. Remember the “unsung heroes.”  Our local police officers and firefighters serve us everyday.  Bake goodies for their departments and fire houses, or buy their coffee when you see them in line at the cafe.  Do something to show that you recognize and appreciate all of their hard work.  After all, they are the ones who run straight to the danger that the rest of us run away from.
  7. Adopt a soldier.  Adopt-A-US Soldier is a non-profit organization that seeks volunteers to help show the brave men and women fighting for our freedom that their sacrifices will not go unnoticed. It connects supportive civilians with deployed troops and offers a channel by which to communicate encouragement and express gratitude to those brave men and women serving in the United States Armed Forces.  I’ve adopted a few soldiers over the years and it was a great experience.  We regularly wrote letters to one another and I sent much needed care packages filled with reminders of home and other necessities.

I know it’s not possible for everyone to do all, a few, or even one of these, but please, give what you can.  Your gifts to others do not need to be elaborate, or expensive.  You can have a charitable heart even if you don’t have a lot yourself.

I hope I’ve encouraged a few people to pay it forward for the holidays.  We should all be thankful for what we have and not focus on what we think we don’t have enough of.  As long as we have our health, a warm home and love in our hearts, then that will be enough.

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