Christmas; the most magical time of year, right? Standing as a time of religious devotion for some and commercial cheer for others, this sparkly period of festivity offers a month of fun for all. Not only do fairy lights adorn every available surface, but there seems to be a heightened sense of positivity in the air. Whether you celebrate Christmas by attending carol services, making hot chocolate with your family, buying presents for your loved ones or getting that sequin dress for your staff party, it certainly stands out as one of the happiest events in the yearly calendar. It’s a time where we can express kindness to loved ones and strangers.
But, although beautiful and often decadent, Christmas should also be a time for reflection and gratitude. While the acts of buying yet another tree decoration or your sixth peppermint mocha of the week may make you feel fuzzy inside, it is important to keep sight of the things that really matter. Standing as the closing point of our year, Christmas offers a fantastic opportunity to contemplate what we are grateful for, and to give back to those in need. A good way to exercise this? Twelve acts of kindness.
Giving back to your neighbourhood.
Giving back to those living around you can be a truly beautiful thing. Whether it’s making a cake for the sweet elderly couple who live next door to you or offering to help mend the fence of the young family who live at the end of the road, simple acts of gratitude can make someone’s day. Think about your neighbours – what are their favourite things? Giving back to those around us not only displays our gratitude, but it fosters the idea that our neighbours comprise an integral part of our community. Without them, we simply wouldn’t have the support basis, variety or help that we so often rely on throughout the year. So, get baking and making – you’d be surprised as to how bright someone’s day can be made through a simple plate of homemade biscuits.
2. Give to a food bank.
At Christmas, it is important to recognise your privilege. While the act of buying a turkey or a can of cranberry sauce might be a simple task for those lucky enough, many individuals struggle to feed their family year round – let alone during the hyper-inflated festive system. So, the next time you pop to the shops to grab another tube of Pringles for Christmas Eve snacking, why not pick up a few items for those in need? Simple things like powdered gravy, tinned vegetables, crackers or a box of chocolates could make someone’s Christmas all the more enjoyable, and offer them a chance to stress-less during the festive period. Food can be given to those in need through food-bank charities and drop-off points, and even some supermarkets; even just one item could make the world of difference.
3. Contact distant friends and family.
We all have those loved ones that we don’t get to see as much as we’d like to. Whether this is a sister who lives at the other end of the country or a father who lives in sheltered accomodation, those who are important to us aren’t always right there. However, distance shouldn’t mean our care for them is neglected – especially at Christmas. From making a simple phone call, driving a couple of hours or sending a Christmas card, keeping intimate connections with those important to us is hugely important. Not only does it reinforce our care for our them, but it keeps connections and future ventures open; upon calling or visiting them, arrange to see them again soon.
4. Give back to your local schools.
Schools make up a hugely important aspect of our community, and it is important to show our appreciation for them. Whether its Christmas plays or end-of-term marking, teachers, pupils, and staff get stressed. Why not donate some glitter and art paper for the children to make angel decorations to take home? Or drop in homemade cake and coffee for the staff room? Simple gestures such as these can make events such as the Nativity play or home-work marking all the more bearable.
5. Give back to your postman/woman.
The postman – we see him/her every day. Not only are they responsible for dropping off important documents and letters, but they often have to work very unsociable and long hours (which can be especially hard during the chilly month of December). So, what can we do to show our gratitude? Homemade presents are not only more personal, but inherently unique – from making a card for the postie with our children, to giving them a slice of fresh Christmas cake and a cup of tea, simple acts like these can make someone’s working day all the more enjoyable.
6. Buy a stranger a coffee.
The next time you are out and about Christmas shopping and decide to take a break in your favourite coffee shop, buy a festive drink for a stranger! Whether this is paying for your drink and that of whoever comes after you, or buying an extra coffee and handing it out to someone, a warm drink on a cold day suits almost everyone.
7. Leave inspiring notes for people to find.
Inspirational notes or cards can really make a stranger’s day. Even if you live in a tiny village as opposed to a huge city, leaving notes with words of encouragement have the capacity to pick someone up when they most need it. From a simple, ‘Smile!’ to a ‘Big ideas have Small beginnings’, leaving notes such as these on the tube, bus, in a coffee shop or on a bench can offer someone a burst of festive positivity. Want to make someone’s Christmas extra special? Why not decorate the notes with some glitter!
8. Clean out your wardrobe, and donate what you don’t need.
In the run-up to Christmas not only do we tend to buy a lot of gifts for our friends and family, but we also seem to buy a lot of new clothes – staff parties, school plays, Christmas dinners, family reunions, you name it and there’s a new outfit for it! However, do you really need a heaving wardrobe? A way to combat this? Donate what you do not need to those who do. Not only does clearing out your wardrobe offer you a sense of freshness when ascending into the new year, but it offers the opportunity for a stranger to have a lovely piece of new clothing. Upon wrangling with your clothes and sorting everything into bags, head to your local clothes donation point or charity – for an added piece of cheer, perhaps leave a Christmas card amongst the clothes for a stranger to read!
9. Be kind to hospitality and retail workers.
Although Christmas is indeed a time of joy and fun, those working in the hospitality and retail sectors often bare the brunt of Christmas-related stress. From working overtime in order to attend to heightened customer demands to waiting tables of twenty-plus people, these individuals make up a huge part of what makes Christmas so special. Being able to buy presents for loved ones, or have family or staff dinner parties is what makes the holidays a time to be cherished. So, to pay this back, what can we do? Tipping is a fantastic way to show your gratitude. Leaving good reviews can also do the world of good — no matter how short, they can make the world of a difference.
10. Do something kind for your boss or colleagues.
Although we spend the majority of our time with our work colleagues, it is important to recognise their hard work. Maybe your boss has worked exceptionally hard on a project, or your team has met their yearly target. Something as simple as bringing your boss a bottle of wine or handing out little presents to those on your team can make someone’s working day all the more special. Not only do small acts like this really show our colleagues that we care about and recognise how brilliant they are, but it helps maintain a sense of team solidarity.
11. Send anonymous flowers to a friend.
Flowers – everyone loves them! Beautiful and elegant, flowers are a lovely gift to send a friend or family member this Christmas. Why not select their favourite flowers, complete with a card, and send them anonymously? Not only is this brilliantly mysterious, but it is a completely unexpected present – maybe, you can even get away with a, ‘Wow, they’re lovely! Someone must really care about you’, upon seeing them the next day!
12. Tell people you love them.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is vital to tell your loved ones how much you care about them; a simple kiss on the cheek and, ‘Have a good day, I love you!’ to your significant other in the morning could really make their day. In the midst of all the glitter and mince pies, Christmas should be about showing our gratitude for those we love and telling them how special they are to us. So, give your little ones an extra long hug before they go to bed, and spread some positivity!
Here at Kindaba, we really value kindness and connections – keeping in contact with those around you, especially family, is so important (especially during the holidays). Whether you choose to implement all twelve acts of kindness, or just one, you’re bound to make a huge difference to someone’s festive period. Head to our website to find out more, and remember to stay festive!