Advent Ideas Focused on Kindness

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

–Edith Wharton

advent candle

Advent is approaching! (Yes, I know I’m thinking way ahead.) Every year I put special activities (written on slips of paper) in our calendar pockets for us to do each day. This year, we’re going to do something new: random acts of kindness. Below is a list I found online (although I can’t remember where). We’ll pick 24 of these for Advent. And maybe we’ll keep doing it after!

  1. Leave a bouquet at the hospital; the nurses will know who needs it the most.
  2. Make a struggling family’s summer by buying them a season pass to the municipal pool.
  3. Help a friend see today in a wondrous new light: Hand him or her a kaleidoscope.
  4. If you are in a long line, invite the person behind you to go first.
  5. Shower the pediatric wing of a hospital with $1 coloring books and $2 boxes of new crayons.
  6. Hang a sign on a bulletin board that says “Take What You Need” — with tear-off tabs at the bottom for Love, Hope, Faith, and Courage.
  7. Bring courtesy back in an instant: Hold the door open with a flourish.
  8. Drop off combs, toothbrushes, and toothpaste at a shelter or a soup kitchen.
  9. Curb road rage: Let other cars merge onto the highway.
  10. Leave your neighbors a note that tells them how much joy you find in admiring their garden.
  11. Put sticky notes with positive messages (e.g., “You look gorgeous!”) on a restroom mirror.
  12. In low-income families, a baby can spend a day or longer in the same diaper, and laundromats often don’t allow cloth diapers to be washed in machines. Help out a mom and a baby by donating diapers (find a directory of diaper banks at diaperbanknetwork.org).
  13. Send a thank-you note to the brave officers at your local police station. (Given how we carry on about parking tickets, it’s important to acknowledge the daily risks taken by the men and women on the force.)
  14. Share the wealth: Ask the grocery clerk to apply your unused coupons to another customer’s items.
  15. Arrange to pay anonymously for a soldier’s breakfast when you see him or her dining alone.
  16. Slip a $20 gas card or public-transportation pass into someone’s shopping bag.
  17. Rekindle your Girl Scout spirit: Pick up trash at a park or a playground.
  18. Donate your old professional clothes to an organization, like Dress for Success (dressforsuccess.org), that helps women jump-start their careers — and up their confidence.
  19. Carry someone’s groceries.
  20. It’s hot out! Offer your mail carrier a glass of iced tea or a $5 Starbucks gift card.
  21. Bake bread or cookies and deliver the food to a nearby fire station or group home.
  22. Be the bigger person: Cede the parking space.
  23. Check “yes” when asked if you wish to become an organ donor — and tell your family.
  24. Lay your neighbors’ newspaper at their front door along with a plate of blueberry muffins.
  25. Donate old cell phones to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ncadv.org), which will use the proceeds for programs that protect families from abuse.
  26. Sing an employee’s praises to a manager or on a comment card — a little recognition goes a long way.
  27. Share happy memories. Stick an old photo in the mail to a friend and write a note about the day it was taken on the back.
  28. Send an ooey-gooey dessert over to another table at a restaurant.
  29. Leave a copy of a book you love, with a note for the next reader, on the train or the bus.
  30. Send valentines in August.
  31. Load extra change into the vending machine to buy the next person a Coke.
  32. Send somebody an e-card, just because. The funnier, the better.
  33. Name a star after someone (starregistry.com).
  34. Forgive someone. Repeat as necessary.
  35. Resolve to refrain from negative self-talk (you deserve your kindness, too!).
  36. On trash day, wheel your neighbor’s can out to the curb.
  37. Relay an overheard compliment.
  38. You don’t have to send every disadvantaged child to college, but you can buy one of them a life-changing book: Try booksforkids.org.
  39. To melt away her blues, send a friend a funny video from YouTube.
  40. Volunteer to read to kids at an after-school program.
  41. Give your mom a shout-out on your birthday — after all, she deserves some credit for your life.
  42. Pause and give people the benefit of the doubt. E-mail, especially, can cause unintentional feather-ruffling.
  43. Bring your spouse coffee in bed.
  44. Treat an elderly neighbor, with a gift certificate, to a $30 pedicure. Bonus points if you can do so anonymously.
  45. Dedicate a song on the radio to someone you know is listening during his or her long commute.
  46. Take kindness on the road: Pay the toll for the car behind you.
  47. Slow way down when you drive past a pedestrian — 35 mph can seem like the Indy 500 to a woman walking her dog.
  48. Rescue a wallflower! Strike up a conversation with someone who’s standing alone at a party.
  49. Leave extra umbrellas in vestibules with notes that say “Use this to stay dry!”
  50. Deliver fresh-baked cookies to city workers.
  51. Bring flowers to work and share them with coworkers.
  52. Simply listen to someone in need.
  53. Donate a percentage of receipts for the week to a special cause.
  54. Bring coworkers a special treat.
  55. Sing at a nursing home.
  56. Offer a couple of hours of baby-sitting to parents.
  57. Serve refreshments to customers.
  58. Treat someone to fresh fruit.
  59. Pay a compliment at least once a day.
  60. Hand out balloons to passersby.
  61. Give free sodas to motorists.
  62. Transport someone who can’t drive.
  63. Mow a neighbor’s grass.
  64. Say something nice to everyone you meet today.
  65. Send a treat to a school or day-care center.
  66. Volunteer at an agency that needs help.
  67. Give the gift of your smile.
  68. Organize a scouts or service clubs to help people with packages at grocery store.
  69. Offer to answer the phone for the school secretary for ten minutes.
  70. Volunteer to read to students in the classroom.
  71. Give a hug to a friend.
  72. Tell your children why you love them.
  73. Write a note to your mother/father and tell them why they are special.
  74. Pat someone on the back.
  75. Give coffee to people on their way to work in the morning.
  76. Give blood.
  77. Plant flowers in your neighbor’s flower box.
  78. Give another driver your parking spot.
  79. Leave a treat or handmade note of thanks for a delivery person or mail carrier.
  80. Tell your boss that you think he/she does a good job.
  81. Tell your employees how much you appreciate their work.
  82. Let your staff leave work an hour early.
  83. Tell a bus or taxi driver how much you appreciate their driving.
  84. Give a pair of tickets to a baseball game or concert to a stranger.
  85. Leave an extra big tip for the waitperson.
  86. Drop off a plant, cookies, or donuts to the police or fire department.
  87. Open the door for another person.
  88. Pay for the meal of the person behind you in the drive-through.
  89. Be a friend to a new student or coworker.
  90. Offer to return a shopping cart to the store for someone loading a car.
  91. Buy a roll of colorful stickers and give them to children you meet during the day.
  92. Write a card of thanks and leave it with your tip.
  93. Let the person behind you in the grocery store go ahead of you in line.
  94. When drivers try to merge into your lane, let them in with a wave and a smile.
  95. Buy cold drinks for the people next to you at a ball game.
  96. Distribute kindness bookmarks that you have made.
  97. Plant a tree.
  98. As you go about your day, pick up trash.
  99. Laugh out loud often and be generous with your smile.
  100. Pay for the order of the person behind you in the drive-thru line.
  101. Rake leaves or shovel snow for a neighbor.
  102. Send friends and relatives notes or letters of encouragement on the back of your kids’ artwork.
  103. Leave love notes for your spouse or kids in places like a briefcase or clothing drawer.
  104. Bring water, coffee, or hot chocolate to outdoor workers (police officers or crossing guards, for example).
  105. Put your neighbor’s trashcans away for them after pick-up.
  106. Buy a soda or candy bar for the cashier when you’re checking out.
  107. Give a restaurant or coffee gift card to someone (bank cashier, postal worker, homeless person, or random stranger).
  108. Send a silly card to brighten someone’s day.
  109. Call or email someone you haven’t talked to in awhile, just to ask how they are.
  110. Send your spouse a text just to tell him something that you appreciate about him.
  111. Hide a kind note in a library book.
  112. Leave your trade credit inside a book or video game at the used book store. (This happened to my son last week. It was just enough to get an inexpensive game and it made his day.)
  113. Bring your spouse his favorite drink while he’s getting ready for work. (This happened to me last week and it made my day…except, I wasn’t getting ready for work.)
  114. Cut someone’s grass.
  115. Bake cookies for someone. (Postal carrier, neighbor, elderly friend, Sunday school teacher, etc.).
  116. Leave coins on a parking meter or the machines at a laundry mat.
  117. Pay the toll for the car behind you.
  118. Help someone load their groceries.
  119. Offer to return someone’s shopping cart to the store.
  120. Let someone go ahead of you in the checkout line.
  121. Let someone pull out or turn in front of you in traffic, if it’s safe to do so.
  122. Keep unopened kids’ meal toys in your purse to give to kids you encounter (with their parent’s permission).
  123. Pay for someone’s meal at a restaurant.
  124. Make extra meals to share with a sick or busy neighbor.
  125. Offer to keep a friend’s kids so she and her husband can have some time alone.
  126. Take a friend’s child(ren) shopping for an upcoming holiday so they can buy their parents a surpise gift.
  127. Make hats for kids with cancer.
  128. Make cards for nursing home residents…and deliver them with your kids.
  129. Pick up trash at the park.
  130. Thank a soldier.
  131. Make care bags for the homeless – toiletry items, bottled water, food store gift cards, non-perishable/ready-to-eat foods.
  132. Buy car wash coupons and give them away.
  133. Leave copy of the Sunday newspaper on your neighbor’s doorstep.
  134. Clean house for a friend or family member while she’s on vacation.
  135. Leave extra coupons on the store shelf next to the item they’re good for.
  136. Pack a bag for someone undergoing chemo – include snacks, bottled water, magazines, word-find games, a mechanical pencil, and a good book.
  137. Tape envelopes with quarters to vending machines.
  138. Take care packages to patients with new babies at the hospital.
  139. Take homemade cookies or cupcakes to the police or fire station.
  140. Invite a homeschool mom friend’s kids over for the day so she can run errands or do lesson plans alone – or just take a nap!
  141. Save change throughout the year and bless another family with some extra cash during the holidays.
  142. Pack a date-night box (movie rental card, popcorn, soft drinks, movie candy) and leave it on someone’s doorstep. Ring the bell and run!
  143. Take lunch to the ICU waiting room.
  144. Take magazines, word-find games, or Sudoku puzzles and mechanical pencils to a waiting room.
  145. Take flowers to a nurses’ station – for the nurses.
  146. Get a group together to make a meal for your local Ronald McDonald House.
  147. Give your unwanted newspaper coupons to the lady behind you who’s buying three papers. Chances are, she clips coupons.
  148. Fix a make-ahead breakfast for a working/school-not-at-home family to make their morning a little smoother.
  149. Purchase a store gift card or a gas card and send it to a friend in need.
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