10 Ways to Pay It Forward This Holiday Season

By on November 1, 2014

By Kayla Matthews−

We’ve all been in positions where someone has done something kind for us and we wish we could return the favor. Whether it’s simply holding a door or exchanging a smile during a bad day, the kindness of strangers has brightened a lot of our lives. That sort of feeling is warm, soft and sweet, like hot chocolate on a snowy day, and it’s hard to just accept it without wanting to pass it on to the people around us.

But what can you do to pay the good feelings forward? There are so many big ways you could help people around you if only there were a few extra hours in the day. If you’re busy, it’s harder to find the time and energy to pass the goodwill on, but trying some of these small, less time-consuming ways can make a big difference in your holiday season and that of the people you help.

#1: Pay for a stranger’s coffee. Whether you stop at the Starbucks every day on the way to work or just enjoy a stroll around the corner to the coffee house, you’ll probably have to stand in line. Now, it’s easy to stand there and fume about how busy the place is and how much of a hurry you are in, but try paying forward a little goodwill instead by buying the coffee of the person directly in front of or behind you.

#2: Pay for a stranger’s toll. If you commute to work across a toll bridge or road, it’s easy to pay double the toll to cover the next car behind you. Something generous like this, where no thanks or recognition are expected, makes the recipient feel special—and depending on the type of day they are having, they could be very encouraged by your gift.

#3: Deliver an extra turkey to the local mission. Many local grocery stores have programs prior to and during the holiday season to offer free Thanksgiving or Christmas turkeys to customers who spend set amounts on groceries. If you are like my family, you’ve probably ended up with much more turkey in your freezer than your family can eat in a month. Taking your extra frozen turkey to the rescue mission is a small but effective gesture to share with others the goodwill you’ve received over the last year.

#4: Make a small sacrifice for charity. Save a few dollars a month out of your coffee, wine or beer budget to give to a charity you feel passionate about, like one of those featured here.

#5: Smile! It’s easy to rush through the holiday season without breaking a grin. Next time you are standing in line to check out at the mall, try offering a smile to the cashier. It might brighten both your days.

#6: Hold an elevator door for someone with a lot of packages. Many people have their hands full during the holidays. If you don’t, offer a helping hand to someone who does!

#7: Clean out your closets. If you have children who are leaving or have left home, you probably have a lot of things left around your house you don’t need. Those things can be donated to charity thrift stores or the Salvation Army so people less fortunate can repurpose them into nice holiday gifts.

#8: Go caroling. It may seem like you are just doing it for fun, but gathering up a group of friends and singing in the streets of your neighborhood or the halls of the local retirement community is a great way to encourage people and pay it forward this holiday season.

#9: Play trivia. Do you usually spend your days off over the holidays scrolling through Facebook or watching TV? Sacrifice an hour of your social network or holiday movie time to play trivia at Free Rice instead. You can help feed hungry people, and all it takes is a few minutes on your computer while resting comfortably in your living room.

#10: Redirect gifts. Every year, your parents or your children ask you what you would like to get this holiday season. This year, rather than saying you would like a new grill or a special vacation, request that your family and friends show how much they care by donating to a charity you suggest. In this way, you can help many more people together than you ever could on your own.

No matter how much time you have to spare, or don’t have, there is something on this list you can do this holiday season. If you’ve felt goodwill from someone else this year, remember to pass it along.

Image by BK

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10 Ways to Pay It Forward This Holiday Season