If you have ever experienced a random act of kindness, you know the profound joy even the simplest act can produce. There’s a surprise and level of connection that can shake you out of the rhythm of routine and leave a lasting impact. This year, encourage your family to spread that kindness to the people who cross your paths.
Here are 41 fun, friendly ideas to ring in the new year and help a fellow human. Consider these as you make your new year resolutions, or brainstorm your own family list as you set out to spread cheer this year!
Simple Acts a Child Can Do
- Smile at passersby, or wave to them from your house or car window.
- Send a note of appreciation to a coach, teacher or neighbor.
- Do a chore without being asked.
- If you see something out of place, put it back where it goes.
- Start the day on the right foot. Smile and say “good morning” to everyone you see.
- Bring in a neighbor’s garbage cans on a cold day.
- Write handwritten letters to older family members. Show them that they are worth the time.
- Hold the door open for the person behind you.
- When you receive prize tickets from arcade games, give them to someone else so they can get a bigger prize.
- Hand a refreshing bottle of water to the mail carrier, or take cookies to your trash collectors.
- Leave a note with a kind word or message on someone’s front door or car windshield.
Make Someone’s Day
- Let someone ahead of you in line at the store.
- Compliment someone on their hair, clothes, smile, skills or sense of style.
- Offer your seat to someone who needs it more than you on the bus, on the train or in a waiting area.
- Give up a great parking spot to the person behind you, and walk a little farther yourself.
- Send friends silly cards or ecards to let them know you are thinking of them.
- Give parents a break. Offer to babysit while they catch up on sleep or shopping.
- If store or restaurant employees have been kind or helpful, be sure to tell their boss or write a positive review.
- Share a word of encouragement with a parent or teacher who has his hands full.
- If you have to run out to the store on a cold or rainy day, be sure to ask your neighbor if they need something.
- Ask a friend about their day, then listen.
Share the Wealth
- Buy hot cocoa on a cold day for someone working outdoors.
- Hand out $5 gift cards to customers in line at your favorite coffee shop or restaurant.
- Leave coins or boxes of detergent at the laundromat with a note that says, “For you.”
- Put together packets with toiletries and nonperishable food items or baked goods to hand to someone experiencing homelessness. Include a handmade card in the package.
- Pay for the order of the person behind you in the drive-through window.
- Purchase a “buy one, get one” item and share it with a friend.
- Leave a generous tip for a small bill. We have all worked for tips at one time in our lives and know that feeling of surprise and gratitude for a big tip.
- Buy lunch for the service people working at your house. Pizza goes a long way when there is more than one person to feed.
- If you have an extra ticket, give it to someone waiting in line.
- Make twice as much dinner as your family needs and take half to a neighbor – just because.
Do Something Together as a Family
- Leave small packages – mini-chocolates or small gifts of your own making – for someone to find on their desk or work area.
- Tape coins to the gumball machines.
- Send a surprise text, even a short string of emojis, to cheer up a friend who could use some love.
- Collect old towels, blankets and newspapers for the animal shelter.
- Leave a used book or good magazine at the dentist office, coffee shop, auto repair waiting room or a little library.
- Think about someone who helped you out today in some way, big or small, and thank him with a positive review, a quick online post or a thank you note.
- Give of yourself. Sign up to volunteer. Our area has several organizations that need family volunteers. Here are a few: Generation SERVE, Austin Allies, the Round Rock Area Serving Center, Keep Austin Beautiful and Austin Parks Foundation.
- Pull a shy partygoer into a conversation by asking her about herself, or find a new friend at a park by inviting her to play.
- Decorate your sidewalk with positive messages or happy pictures to cheer up everyone who passes by.
- Collect things: cans and nonperishables for a food bank, trash from a creek cleanup, books to donate, or flowers and pretty leaves to share with a grandparent or neighbor.
Little acts can leave a big impact. It’s the intent and connection that counts.
Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and mother of three. She is blessed to be on both the giving and receiving end of random acts of kindness.