During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it's easy to get caught up in the rush of overflowing schedules, maxing out credit cards to fulfill wish lists, and feeling overwhelmed by trying to keep up with it all.
But, it's important to step back and remember the true meaning of the season. The holidays are a time where we can honor traditions and create new memories, attend festive parties, spend more time with our loved ones, and rejoice in the energy of the pending new year with boundless opportunities ahead.
One of the most beautiful and heartwarming things about the holiday season is that it inspires many to be a little nicer, more giving, more social, and generally overall better to one other.
To gain some perspective on holiday giving, I reached out to a couple of kindness gurus for their take on the gooey heartwarming goodness of the season.
Kris Wittenberg, Founder & CEO of Be Good to People, a movement that's changing the world one person, one kind act at a time notes, "People are full of good cheer, looking for ways to spread it to others and carry it on into the New Year ahead. There is a sense of altruism brought about by the holiday season. I think people oftentimes are exhausted at the end of the year. They have been running in the rat race, making their way in the world, and as the year ends, they let down their walls a bit and share a common humanity. People are thinking of others as they shop for special gifts, put together their holiday card distribution lists, attend holiday festivities together and spend time with family and friends. It's just a jovial time."
Elle Lanning, Senior Director of Communications at Do the KIND Thing: Projects, a program which crowd sources socially impactful ideas and gives away $10k to a winning project every month, adds, "When people get in that holiday spirit, they feel compelled to go beyond giving just gifts but also their time, their kind words, and more. Spreading kindness or holiday cheer during this time can be as simple as giving a dollar to the homeless you encounter on your commute every morning, to volunteering, to distributing holiday meals to those in need, to treating a close friend to dinner. The possibilities are endless."
The holiday season can be a dark time for those who are missing loved ones in their lives or who are struggling to make ends meet. How can one give back this season? It's a time where we can open up our hearts to those in need while teaching the younger generations that there is more to this time of year than just receiving the latest tech gadget.
Kris Wittenberg gave a few great ideas on how to pay-it-forward over the holidays stating, "there are so many wonderful options for any budget or schedule." She truly knows what it means to Be Good to People as she offered up these wonderful ideas:
- Shovel the neighbor's walk or clear their car of snow before they come out in the morning.
- Offer an elderly person, busy single mom, or someone fighting a debilitating illness help wrapping gifts or decorate the house for the holidays.
- Deliver homemade holiday goodies to a homeless shelter, women's shelter or nursing home.
- Offer to read holiday stories to kids at the library or to residents at a nursing home.
- Adopt a family (check with your local social services, church or shelter) and surprise them with meals and gifts that fill needs and wants.
- Remember the people who serve with special gifts or notes of appreciation: the mail carrier, the garbage collector, the minister or choir director at your church, the crossing guard, librarian, lunch ladies or janitor at school, the first responders -- anyone who makes your neighborhood run. And don't forget your neighbors!
- Host a holiday open house and ask that no one bring dishes or drinks but instead bring a new toy wrapped and labeled or a donation that will go to a local charity.
- Instead of just signing holiday cards and mailing them, write a personal note in each -- come on, make time! What a difference that makes to the recipient!
- Deliver warm clothes, socks, shoes, mittens, hats, scarves, and jackets to homeless people -- include a warm meal or a gift certificate.
While kindness knows no seasonal boundaries, the good holiday vibes, unfortunately, don't always last forever. KIND's Elle Lanning explains, "Most people get into the spirit and somewhat inherently fall out when the new year and busy schedules pick up again." When asked about keeping the spirit alive she says, "The most important thing to remember is that it is simple to be kind and to do it all year round. People often think to do something good, they have to volunteer or write a check. Doing good for others could be simple daily tasks such as holding the door open for a stranger or buying coffee for your colleague." By signing up for one of her local food bank's newsletter, she stays in the know of everything they are working on or in need of throughout the year. Signing up for updates on causes you feel in alignment with is a good way to stay inspired and involved with your community as well.
There are so many ways to spread a little love and holiday cheer. Better yet, keep it going all year! What about you? In what ways do you and your family perform acts of holiday kindness? How might you keep the inspiration going year round? Please share with us in the comments below!