Friday, December 20, 2013

Last Minute Christmas Service Ideas #spreadingjoy

I can't even express how grateful I am to be part of the cool #spreadingjoy, Season of Giving effort over at Kid Stuff World. I was told about this great series by the amazing Sheila from Pennies of Time and knew immediately I wanted to join- I'm so glad she thought to ask me! So today I get to share a little list that's been gaining momentum in my head for a few weeks now... a few last minute ideas for giving service this time of year!

Christmas flies by every year, no matter what. It gets here and we think, did I really feel the spirit of it all? Did I do the things that mattered most? Will my kids remember THIS year imparticular? I know the answer for me is pretty well always "No," even if we have done some great and good things. But I do, I spend too much time at the store in the name of gift giving. Too much time in the kitchen in the name of baking and tradition. Too much time behind my laptop in the name of... what, exactly?

But it's NOT TOO LATE. Our desires toward service and kindness can get the green light NOW. Your family can have a great, uplifting, even spiritual service experience still this very Christmas season, in the next handful of days! Your gifts can be wrapped by the midnight oil (again), it's okay if you only make one kind of Christmas cookie (or even just buy some pre-made), and there actually are enough gifts already lying in wait...

read this list, get your kiddos on board
and make memories that you won't regret!

  • Prepare simple gifts of kindness (even just write or draw little notes on plain paper) and drive around to places with the intent of handing them out. THESE printable tags can be added to a simple, inexpensive candy cane, or THESE ones to a pack of gum. Neither take much time at all to put together.
Not a great picture, but you can tell he was smiling!
  • Volunteer at places you are already going. This last weekend we attended our church Christmas party and Cooper came with me to help in advance with the set up and food prep. He set cups and napkins on tables, laid little dressing cups across serving trays, and so on- this was a place we were already planning on being and we were able to turn it into a service opportunity by showing up early. There's no chance you'll be turned away... or wish you'd spent your time otherwise. I helped make it fun for him by having little contests in the process- like "Let's see if you can get all the napkins set out before I finish the silverware on these two tables." Service is fun!
  • Carry extra hand warmers with you to outdoor activities. Earlier this week we attended a live nativity here in our little community. We'd brought several packages of handwarmers and used them ourselves. Sadly, it only occurred to me later that we could have brought extra and would have really had a good experience handing them out across the crowd.
  • Get up early and scrape windows before your neighbors leave for work- this is obviously a fairly adult task, but Cooper is only six and really does think scraping windows is totally cool :) Another fun place and time to do this would be at a movie theater or gym on a cold night.
  • If you don't have snow or cold during the winter where you are and sidewalk chalk is a year-round option, carry a package in your car and stop randomly to leave little notes for others... beside a bus stop, along a jogging path, in front of a busy store are quick ideas. The awkward few moments of letting someone know 'You are Loved' or 'JOY to the world' will be short lived compared to the uplift you'll bring to so many people.
  • Share the gift of dinner with neighbors or someone you know could really use it- my simple Dinner in a Mug idea from earlier this month means essentially no time on your part and is still a hearty, comforting meal for the recipient.
  • Simply visit someone you know is lonely. Widows or the elderly specifically come to mind. You don't have to have anything in hand and you don't have to notch out the whole day, just commit a half an hour or so, then stop by to say hello and sincerely chat with someone you know is in need of company. Think you don't know anyone? If they are home during the middle of the day, chances are they could use you!
  • Drive through just about any food place and order a drink carrier of hot chocolates. Deliver each to a different Salvation Army bell ringer or other outdoor worker in your town or neighborhood. The crossing guard as school lets out, the mailman delivering on foot or the full service gas station attendant are a few other ideas.
  • Fold a plain piece of paper in half and have your kids create a bunch of thank you cards. Take them with as you make your traditional drive to see Christmas lights and tape to the front door of those homes that you see. What a thankless, albeit highly enjoyed, job it is to live on Candy Cane Avenue! ;)
  • Commit to give the compliments you generally don't speak out loud during the day. Think a co-worker looks particularly nice today? Tell them so for real! Admire the way a harried Mom bends down to speak to her child in a busy store? Touch her on the shoulder and tell her she's doing a good job. Appreciate the manner that your cashier serves you as you pay for a purchase? Let them know they are good at their job. No money whatsoever, just a little courage on your part and you've made the world better more than you know!
  • Help your kiddos go through their toyboxes and gather items that can be donated to your local thrift store. We've made donation drop offs on Christmas Eve day in the past and they were still so appreciated! Perhaps your own closet could you a little lightening too :)
  • Take that extra plate of goodies or loaf of bread from your baking and just carry it with you as you run errands or go to work. Say a little prayer that you'll be guided toward who and where it might be needed and then follow through on those thoughts. I love this idea- read the story that made me think of this at all toward the end of THIS article.
  • Grab several packages of $1 knit gloves- they usually come two per pack. Deliver the gloves to the front office of an elementary school for duty aides to pass out to kids who aren't sent to school ready to play in the cold at recess. What elementary school couldn't use such a gift and very little time would be involved in dropping them off. May have to hurry on this one since today is the last day before the break for lots of schools! ;)
  • Actually donate a dollar or two to the person holding a cardboard sign on the corner. You just never know their background, and even if their motives or efforts leave you questioning, we are still uplifted when we give simply for the sake of giving and spreading joy.
  • Babysitting is a form of service I know I've been so grateful for a few times! Take note of a neighbor or friend that could use a few kid-free hours and watch their kids for free. 
  • Unsure of effort in your community that are looking for service or donations? I know there are surely tons I'm completely unaware of around us! Call in to your local radio station to see if they know of places you can contribute more than just money- if your kids are a little older, they'll like making this call for sure! And the radio station is a surprising wealth of knowledge about what's going on where :)
There are no doubt countless more ways you can still serve in the next few days before Christmas, but I'll go ahead and stop here. I know that if you'll take the chance to give service in these next few days, your Christmas will be better, you'll feel as thought you lacking less.

Thanks, Stacy for including me in your #spreadingjoy effort this year. See other posts in this series in the links below.  And Merry Christmas!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...