God blesses me so that I can overflow some of those blessings onto others (2 Corinthians 9:8-11). Caring for others and a love for the people around you will enrich both the receiving and the giving and therefore make your Christmas holiday even greater. Many people gathered around Mary and Joseph on that first Christmas as the Good News began to spread.
1. Tell strangers Merry Christmas. Don’t worry about whether they celebrate it or not. Most people will say something pleasant back when you give a sincere greeting of any kind. If someone does respond in an unfriendly way, simply say, “Oh, I’m sorry. I hope you have a good day,” then shake their rejection from your feet. It’s not about you.
2. Take cookies to a shut-in. Or go to a nursing home with lots of cookies for many shut-ins. Think about the times when you have been sick and stuck in the house for a few days. Remember the loneliness, restlessness, and agitation. Multiple that by 100 to get a feel for how someone that hasn’t left their house in months or years may feel. Encourage those that don’t have the everyday freedoms that you have.
3. Make a few packages for the homeless. Be creative and put many things in each package. Granola bars, cheese and cracker packages, bottles of filtered water, toothbrush, toothpaste, spoon, fork, napkins, tissues, hand sanitizer, moisturizing lotion, socks, deodorant, a note pad and pen, a book, etc. Think of items that just might give them a feeling of normalcy in their lives.
4. Leave something for the UPS guy and/or mailman along with a note that says that you appreciate all their hard work. If you go to your hairdresser and they are gobsmacked with extra holiday bookings, consider getting them something special too. The holidays can bring a huge volume to many businesses and this volume can feel like a burden to employees.
5. Stop worrying over whether somebody will like their present. You can’t control what they think. You can only buy something that you think is a nice present and leave it there. Most people will love the thought that is behind “any” gift.
6. Remember that thoughtful gifts of the heart can mean more than simply spending money. A picture of a beloved memory in an inexpensive simple frame may be seen by the person every day well beyond Christmas.
7. Consider giving a handwritten coupon that the person can redeem with you later for a lunch or dinner, a cup of coffee, etc. Be sure to stress that you’re looking forward to having a face-to-face conversation with them. A gift of your time can be one of the best gifts of all.
8. Pay attention to people going through rough times (at Christmas time, rough times seem to be magnified). Offering a listening ear is often the most important thing to do. Give people extra care when they experience something tragic during the holidays or when it’s an anniversary of something tragic.
9. Pay attention to people that live alone and may not have plans for the Christmas day. Consider inviting them to be a part of your celebration. Stress that you would really enjoy their company, so they don’t feel like you’re just offering them charity.
10. Make a little time to go on Facebook on Christmas day. Of course, I don’t mean to spend all day staring at a screen instead of the people around you. Just a little time to see if any of your online friends are having a difficult day. Sometimes people do reach out for help on social media. Pay attention. There are real people behind those posts.
11. Don’t compare your Christmas experience with other people. Just because their Christmas season seems extraordinary doesn’t mean that yours is not. Look around at things in your own life that are really great that you may be taking for granted.
12. Count your blessings. Use the time at the end of the year to list everything you’re grateful for as well as any achievements that you reached in the past year. Don’t just see what you lack. Gratitude will bring contentment.
13. Watch It’s a Wonderful Life on television with a loved one or two or more. Then tell each one how they have affected your life. Tell them about the treasured memories that you have about them. Remind people that everyone’s life is full of wonder and everyone is important to others.
14. Write an email or letter to people that have affected your life in a positive way. You may not see them physically much anymore, but you can still appreciate all of the times that you were with them. A written letter that the person can save telling them how much they mean to you could be their favorite gift ever.
15. Start a new tradition. Anything that you and your family enjoy doing together can become a new tradition. Reading a book out loud. Watching a beloved Christmas movie or show. Fixing a specific meal. Going out for breakfast. Going to an ice skating rink. Taking a walk in the park. A family football game in the yard. It doesn’t matter if it’s a unique or commonplace activity—both can be fun.
16. Take moments to simply relax. Sit by a roaring fire or in front of the lit Christmas tree. Have a cup of cocoa. Cuddle with a warm blanket. And dwell on the beauty of the season. It’s not all about hustle and bustle—some moments can be warm and peaceful if we allow them to be.
17. If you see someone else rushing around like a mad person, do one or two of their to-do list items for them so they can take a moment to sit and relax. They may not take you up on it, but your offering may mean a lot. And, they just might take you up on it. Everybody needs a break and some help now and then.
18. Pick up a fiction book that you’re interested in and read it over the holiday break. Reading, in general, has a different effect on your brain than simply watching movies—it’s active. And, reading stories helps you to see other people’s perspectives and leads to living more compassionately and openly.
19. Think back at your past Christmas memories. Relish the good ones and forgive any bad ones. Not everyone has good memories at Christmastime. If you survived a bad situation, think about that survival instead of the memory itself. Then, meditate on ways that you can help someone in a similar situation.
20. Pray for people around the world. The soldier that is far from home. The persecuted Christian that is simply trying to remember the details of the Christmas story because their bible has been confiscated. The orphan that simply wants a mommy or a daddy. The refugee looking for a warm shelter to lay their head. There really are bigger problems than worrying about whether your turkey will come out moist.
21. Read Luke Chapter 1 & 2 in its entirety and be blessed with the beginning of God’s redemption story. He came to earth to redeem you! That’s what Christmas is really all about!
22. Use your imagination and your giftings to come up with even more ways to bless others and then continue to do them throughout the coming year. You’ll never regret a single act of kindness.