Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and Christmas is a stone's throw away. But before we dive headfirst into the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, let's take a minute to pause and remember our neighbors, our friends, and our family. It's been quite a year for everyone. So, in an effort to bring a little more joy and light to the world and to your lives, we've put together a list of 10 simple ways to serve others. Pick one, pick a few, but pick something. They are simple, easy, and we promise it will change your day and someone else's for the better.
1. We'll start things off with something easy: smile. It seems too simple to feel like it does anything, but we promise it does. Research suggests that smiling is actually contagious. We dare you to try and smile at everyone you meet tomorrow. Just try it. We promise it really will make all the difference, even if the result isn't immediate.
2. Find a charity or cause that speaks to you and find out how you can donate your time or your money to the cause. Not sure where to start? We've put together a list of charities near and dear to our hearts to get you started.
3. Get your friends and family together and send Christmas cards to military personnel overseas. As much as you love being with your family at Christmas, our service men and women probably miss their families just as much. Lighten the load by letting them know how grateful you are for their sacrifice and service. Here's a link to a few ways you can send cards.
4. Be patient. As we all know, the holidays (and holiday shopping) can get a little hectic. Frustrations occur. Before you get frustrated this season with people on the street, a customer service agent, or even a family member, pause for 5 seconds, take a deep breath, and remember that everyone is honestly doing the best they can. Remember that you don't know the full story of the people on the street, that 9 times out of 10 that customer service rep is going through hell and high water to help you out (and sometimes the cards just don't fall your way), and that your family probably loves you more than anyone. Need help learning some patience? Here are some tips on meditating to help you get started.
5. Go through your closet and donate what you no longer wear. Does it spark joy? JK you don't have to go through that whole routine, but go through your closet and find things you haven't worn in 6 months or more. Donate them to your local shelter or if you walk past any homeless men or women during your daily routine, stop this time and give them some extra clothes for winter.
6. Remember the unsung heroes of the holidays. With the world trending towards more online shopping (and the the fact the COVID has made shopping in person harder), the jobs of our delivery people has been cranked up and will even more so during the holiday season. If you happen to cross paths with these delivery people as they are making deliveries, say thank you. And mean it. Want to go the extra mile and live in a place with a porch? Leave them a basket of snacks and drinks to choose from. The days and long and exhausting and who doesn't love to be remembered?
7. Give back to schools in your area. School budgets aren't what they used to be and more often than not, teachers have to buy their own classroom supplies. This year, try checking in with your local schools to see if they have any needs.
8. Call your grandparents. If COVID has taught us anything, it's that people need people and that includes (and probably especially) elderly people. Take 10 minutes out of your day to call your grandparents and see how they are. Better yet, Facetime them. Let them tell you about nothing and everything and then you do the same. Sometimes even the simplest conversations and the knowledge that you were remembered can bring so much joy.
9. Visit your local soup kitchen or shelter. Grab some friends or family members and take an afternoon or evening to physically serve people. Serve food, sort clothing, and spend time bringing joy and conversation into people's lives.
10. Tip Well. Especially in these COVID times where restaurant employees weren't able to serve you for the better part of the year, tipping means even more. Be generous if you can.
If we have learned anything this year, it's that people need people and that people just want to feel heard and loved. Make that happen this holiday season. It may feel uncomfortable in moments and push you outside your comfort zone, but we can promise you it will be worth it.