Service has always been a big part of my life and something I wanted to pass along to my children. When my kids were younger, we embarked on a new tradition. I had a two year old and a seven year old at the time and I decided instead of doing an advent calendar or celebrating 12 days of Christmas, we were going to do something a little different.
We decided to do 25 days of Random Acts of Kindness leading up through Christmas Day, and began sharing our adventures with the hashtag #25DayRAK. Twenty-five acts of kindness can sound pricey, but it doesn’t have to be. After all, kindness is (mostly) free. This was an issue I addressed our first Christmas of kindness, and I knew we didn’t have a lot of money to spend. We had to get creative, and I needed to figure out ways to get my littlest little involved, too. The best way to get started is to set a budget for the whole project, and figure how to make your ideas fit your budget. Sometimes planning a new activity every day might be a little overwhelming during the holiday season, so just get them in when you can, or plan a whole day of kindness.
Holiday Random Acts of Kindness
There is no wrong way to commit a random act of kindness! Something that worked for us was printing and laminating cards with information about Random Acts of Kindness, so the recipient would know the act or item was intentional and meant just for them. This also helped if either child got a case of nerves, and suddenly became too shy to explain in-person. Here are some easy ideas we have used in previous years, and brand new ones we are trying out this year.
Candy Cane Bombing
Purchase a box of mini candy canes, attach cards, and stick them under windshield wipers on cars at a local shop, library, or office building.
Buy two plates at the local dollar store and give them a holiday design with permanent markers. Make sure to put information in the design about the purpose of the Giving Plate. Bake the design and top with brownies, cookies, or another holiday favorite. The intended purpose with this one is that once the treats were consumed, the plates would replenished with a treat to pass along to another family, creating a chain of kindness.
Tape dollar bills to RAK cards and hide them in the toy section of the dollar store. We managed to catch a squeal of delight from a child before we made our exit.
Popcorn on Redbox machines
We taped microwave popcorn with a RAK card attached to Redbox machines around town.
Ring the bell for the Cheer Fund
Santa hats, jingle bells, and a bucket. Littles love ringing bells and they make BANK with their cuteness. The money goes toward providing Christmas for others in need.
Cookies for Community Helpers
Talk about heroes and to inspire the kids to do something for the local firefighters, police officers, and health care workers. Bake cookies and deliver to show your appreciation.
Treats to the Nurses Station
Who doesn’t love a bowl of chocolate? Nurses are our heroes, too, and we wanted them to be pampered, as well.
Flowers for a Patient
While at the nurses’ station, drop off some flowers be given to a patient who might need cheering up. The nurses will know who needs it most!
While we were waiting at the police station for an officer to greet us, my big kid did an act all on his own. I kept hearing coins be deposited into the machines and the knobs turning, the candy depositing into the tunnel, but he never opened the metal gate to release the candy. I turned around and said, “Bub, WHAT are you doing?” He said, “A random act of kindness, Mom. Now some little kid is going to look in here and get free candy.”
Pay it Forward
Purchase a gift certificate at the dollar store and asked the cashier to give it to the next person who came through the line who looked like they’d had a rough day, or like they could really use it. Hopefully it helped cheer someone up!
Hold the Door
My big kid spent about 15 minutes on the way in and another 10 on the way out opening and holding the door for everyone entering and exiting astore. I said, “Bub, c’mon.” He said, “Mom, random acts of kindness!”
Wish List Items for Project T3 (Totes for Tots and Teens)
Totes for Tots and Teens (Project T3) Inc. provides children in Southeastern Indiana foster care with an overnight bag and personal items as they are removed from their homes. We gathered some items from their wishlist and dropped them in a local collection box.
Leave a container of detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets at the laundromat, along with a sign instructing anyone to take what they needed.
Coloring Sheets & Playing Cards
I was lucky enough to participate in the Big Brothers Big Sisters lunch mentoring program for three years, and I know that some of the most meaningful connections for these kids can come out over a game or activity. Purchase a few new decks of playing cards, a board game, or adult coloring books and colored pencils to donate to the program.
25 Random Acts of Kindness for Advent
Once we got going, these babes were HYPED over Random Acts of Kindness, and that spirit of giving has stuck with them over the last few years. It was incredible to watch them grow as people from start to finish, from being excited to do nice things for others to planning their own acts and willingly dipping into their piggy banks to do so. We are working on our list for this year right now, but here are 30+ more ideas that might inspire you to get started on your own #25DayRak.
- Most animal shelters have wish lists posted, many requesting old blankets or towels. You can collect needed items or make bed pads, toys, or treats to be donated. Look online for an easy doggie biscuit recipe you can all make together. Just be sure to check with your shelter beforehand, to see what is needed and allowed..
- Drop a Note. Write a thank you note for someone who has helped you or who inspires you. Snail mail, email, text, or make a video- No matter how you send it, the message is sure to bring someone joy.
- Donate to a Local Food Pantry. Grab items from your own shelves or make an event out of it. The kids can budget and help with the shopping, even if you do it all online.
- If old enough, offer to help a neighbor shovel snow, rake leaves, collect their mail, or bring up the garbage bin on trash day. (Get permission first!)
- Pay for someone behind you in the drive-thru, if you are able.
- Support someone as they try to reach a goal. Being the ultimate cheerleader can make all the difference in someone’s life, and it teaches kids to be compassionate and supportive of others.
- Leave a surprise for your mail carrier. So many more things are being shipped this season, so thank your local carrier with a note, gift card, or basket of snack goodies, so they can choose a treat while on their route.
- Operation Gratitude supports military heroes at home and overseas. You all can collect beanie babies, write letters, make paracord bracelets, and more.
- Kindness Rocks. Paint rocks with inspirational quotes to hide for others to find.
- Make and hang a bird house, and keep it filled during the winter.
- Spare Change. Tape change to a vending machine, so someone can enjoy a special treat.
- Send a Hug. Sending a hug in the mail is a great way to share some love. Have your child lay down with their arms outstretched and draw around them. Cut out their “hug” from the paper and mail it.
- Make and hand out homeless care kits–bottles of water, a pair of socks, gloves, lip balm, and simple snacks make great items for the kits.
- Call or video chat with a friend or family member, just to say hi and let them know you are thinking of them.
- Offer to walk a neighbor or family member’s dog.
- Host a soap drive for a homeless shelter.
- Collect gloves, hats, and coats for those in need.
- Adopt a family or donate to Toys for Tots.
- Work together with your family to make a blanket to donate to The Linus Project.
- Choose old toys with lots of life left to donate.
- Everyone pick a place they love, and write a positive online review for that location.
- Leave an encouraging note in a book you return to the library.
- Raise awareness for something you are passionate about. We did a virtual fundraiser for Alex’s Lemonade Stand and raised awareness about pediatric cancer.
- Thank your child’s teacher for all their hard work this year. (You can virtually send a gift card, too, if you are able!)
- Start a pop tab collection for the Ronald McDonald House. Be sure to get friends and family in on the action.
- Porch drop. It doesn’t have to be a huge gesture, you can pick up some needed supplies or just share what you have to spare. Porch dropping elves are the sweetest.
- Hand out compliments like they are Halloween candy. “I like your shoes!” “You have cool glasses.”
- Retire some books from your bookshelf your kids may have grown out of by stocking a Little Free Library in your city.
- Offer to help a family member or friend wrap presents. (This would especially be appreciated by me, who wraps gifts like I am a T-Rex.)
- Let someone go ahead of you in line. Have an entire cartful, and the person behind you just has a loaf of bread and a carton of eggs? Don’t make them wait. They will be super grateful to be checking out while you are still loading your groceries on the belt.
- Read a holiday story to a sibling, friend, or family member. This can be in person or virtual. I’m sure long-distance aunts, uncles, or grandparents would love this.
- Create and mail cards for service members, military, police, or firefighters.
- Make homemade ornaments to give to family, friends, or neighbors. They might be a welcome break from all the holiday snacks this season.