It’s that time of year again ladies, and one of the best things to do while we all try to contain our excitement over the twinkling lights, gingerbread lattes and ugly Christmas sweater parties, is to share our love of the holiday season with someone else. Although sipping hot chocolate with your roommate or having a Christmas movie marathon are great ways to get into the holiday spirit, nothing is more rewarding than showing a stranger exactly why this is the most wonderful time of the year. Now I know we all learned from a little elf named Buddy that, “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” However, if you’re anything like me and you’re more likely to offend people with your singing than make them cheerful, here’s three simple things that will do just as well.
1. Pay it forward
Imagine you’re in line at Starbucks. It’s 8 a.m. on a chilly Monday and all you can think about is being reunited with your covers. You reach the front of line and order your favorite latte but as you search for your wallet the cashier stops you by saying it’s already been paid for. That feeling – you know, the warm, fuzzy feeling you get in the pit of your stomach – is exactly why the act of giving is truly magical. The great thing about selfless acts like these is they require very little effort but are met with incredibly inspiring reactions. All that you have to do is think of someone else next time you’re in line at Starbucks or the drive-thru at McDonalds. When you hear your total, give the cashier more than what you owe and tell them to pay for the next person they serve. Not only will witnessing your act of kindness put a smile on their face, but it also guarantees to make the day of the person in line behind you.
2. Bake some love
We all know that half the fun of Christmas cookies is baking them so next time you’re inspired to make some magic in the kitchen, whip up some extras. Nothing puts people in the holiday spirit faster than a warm batch of freshly baked goodies. Give them to a neighbor, professor or anyone you feel could use a little holiday pick-me-up. Just be sure to add a little love to the batter and no one will ever notice that you’re not Buddy the Cake Boss. It’s the thought that counts, right?
3. Give back
Whether it’s with canned goods, old jackets or simply your time, donating is a great way to spread a little love this holiday season. Although it is always a wonderful thing, this time of year in particular seems to offer a plethora of donating possibilities. You could volunteer at a soup kitchen, buy a new toy for a child in need or actually pull out your wallet next time you see a bell-ringer on the street corner – the possibilities are endless and no deed goes unnoticed. Besides, it’s a pretty big world we live in so don’t underestimate the power of a small act of kindness – they add up.
So skip watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the 18th time to experience that feel-good spirit this year and go do some actual good instead. If we all make an effort to perform one of these simple tasks we will quickly remind everyone why the holiday season is more about giving than it is about receiving. So next time you’re stressing out over what gifts to buy or wondering what to wear to your next holiday party, take a moment to realize that having those kinds of problems is a privilege. Use your good fortune to improve the lives of others and your life will instantly become so much more rewarding. In the wise words of Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”