The holidays are a time for giving, serving others and sharing joy and love with both loved ones and strangers. Service has the power to warm the most bitterly cold hearts, and there are many ways you can get involved in lifting others' spirits, but here are 11 suggestions that will truly make a wonderful difference this holiday season:
1. Write letters
Living in a time ruled by technology, many people forget how intimate and personal a handwritten letter can be. Taking the time to write letters of appreciation or simply sharing hope and love with another person through writing is much more meaningful than an email or text message.
2. Invite a lonely person over for dinner
Most likely there is someone you know who is lonely. Whatever their circumstances may be, extend your hand, invite them over and serve them dinner. Many people spend their holidays alone, which is something no one should ever have to experience. Your invitation to have dinner could mean the world to someone who is lonely.
3. Use your talents
Whatever your talents and attributes may be, use them in favor of others. Play an instrument for patients at a rest home or hospital. Crochet or knit blankets for the homeless. Use your writing and artistic skills to spread awareness for charity events. Whatever your talent may be, use it for good.
4. Lend a listening ear
Offer your shoulder to cry on and be a willing listener to someone who is having a bad day. There is so much chatter and noise in the world and it makes listening difficult. Offer your sincere and undivided attention to a loved one or even a stranger who just needs to vent or needs to feel comfort.
5. Show appreciation
Take a moment to give your sincere appreciation to someone who means the world to you, or even those who dedicate their lives for the benefit of others. Bake cookies for firefighters, leave a generous tip for your waiter and show how grateful you are to all those who make your life better each day. Simply taking the time to say, "thank you" is a powerful practice that can impact so many lives.
Everyone loves treats, especially spontaneous treats. Baking goods and sharing them with your neighbors, friends, family or coworkers is a simple way to spread some holiday cheer.
7. Serve those less fortunate
All in all, whatever you choose to do to make a difference, do so selflessly and with service and charity in your heart. There are so many refugees fleeing from war-torn countries and all they seek is peace, kindness and comfort. You have the power to supply just that to these good people. Service takes a small moment but can have a lasting impact on someone's life for years to come.
8. Food drive
Start or participate in a food drive. This is one of the easiest ways to serve others. So many people take their three meals a day for granted, and supplying food to those who can't afford it can be a truly humbling experience.
Donating nice clothes you never wear or extra blankets you can part with will make a world of difference for those in need. Wherever you live, there is most likely a homeless shelter or a collection center to distribute clothes and toys to the needy. Donating is a way to brighten up someone else's life with such minimal effort from you. Don't hesitate to ask shelters, hospitals or humanitarian programs for a list of items they need.
Another thing, you can do to make a difference this season is to volunteer. Volunteering is a rewarding, memorable and all-around fantastic experience, especially because volunteer work is most often dedicated to helping others. So many opportunities to volunteer come about during the holiday season, and although you are the one giving to others, doing so will benefit you the most.
11. Send gifts to others
There are soldiers on military duty who are not able to be home for the holidays, there are children in orphanages around the world, and there are so many people who have never received a gift before. There are many resources that can provide you with details on how to send gifts to those who could use them.
For example, Zero Impact Living is working to provide light to people who don't have access to electricity. A flashlight can allow them to get an education, find access to water and care for family members. Give the gift of light by sending a solar-powered flashlight to families in Uganda today.