It’s been a tough year, so why not end it well with some heartwarming ways you can pay it forward this holiday season? Congratulations, by the way, on almost making it through 2018. You made it through Tide Pod snacking, Yanny/Laurel fights, and a whole year without a new episode of “Game of Thrones.” 2018 has certainly had its difficult moments, but hopefully we can end the year on a good note.
The classic saying goes, “It’s better to give than to receive,” and while that feels true, giving comes with a lot more complications. Some people are picky with what they want. Some people don’t seem to want anything at all. Besides all that, giving is expensive. Still, sharing good fortune is an integral part of the holiday experience, and so I’ve put together a list of ways to spread the holiday spirit without breaking the bank, without spending at all really. It’s just about being the delightful person I know already are. How do I know? You’ve made it all the way through this sappy opening. You’re at least very patient. So, get out there and do some of these heartwarming ways to pay it forward this holiday season.
Host a Party
Rocking around the Christmas tree is not an activity that’s typically enjoyed alone. The best parts of the holiday season are usually spent with friends and family. However, supplying a location for the proverbial tree can be a daunting task. If you’re a person who can tolerate deep cleaning your home twice in a weekend, hosting the rockers is an excellent way to cultivate holiday cheer. Even if all the big days already have a host, I guarantee someone close to you would appreciate an extra party. I know a list writer who would love a distraction from his terrible fantasy football team.
The holidays bring cold weather, and it’s hard to think about a summer body when you can wear joggers everyday. A good diet can wait till your New Years resolution. Make sure your loved ones join you in the well deserved holiday gluttony by taking care of the work. From an expertly basted turkey to Betty Crocker gingerbread mix, there’s a holiday dish to make regardless of your skill level. My family barely lets me in the kitchen on Christmas Day, but I’m pretty good at mixing rum and eggnog, and I say even that counts.
Entertain the Kids
Children are adorable. Of course, they are at peak cuteness when taken in small doses. So if there happens to be children at your holiday gathering, I imagine there’s a parent who wouldn’t say no to a break. Kids are a pretty easy crowd to entertain. Find some toys and put on a show with them. Practice a duet from “Frozen.” When my sister was a toddler, she got a kick out of loud sneezes. If all else fails, download some games on your phone.
No matter the size of your group, there’s probably someone at the holiday dinner table you disagree with on some issue. Having strong, informed opinions on things like politics, religion, and “Star Wars” movies is great, but there’ll be time to debate those things later. The holidays are for celebrating what we have in common. My sister thinks Andrew Garfield is the best Spider-Man, but I don’t need to prove her wrong. At least, not in front of the extended family.
Call your Mother
You don’t call her enough. It’s physically impossible to call her enough. You could try harder though. Just call her.
Donate to The Salvation Army
There’s thousands of great charities that could use a portion of your holiday bonus. There’s not a lot of bad options to literally paying it forward. I’ve just always felt especially festive putting money in Santa’s bucket. It’s worth taking a trip to an ATM before I do my shopping, so I can end the day with a pocket full of change to drop in.
Turn On/Off Christmas Music
There are a lot of ways to get into the holiday spirit. Some people don’t need, or even want Michael Bublé involved in their journey towards merriment. I personally can’t get excited about roasting chestnuts until I hear Nat King Cole sing about it. Either way, people tend to be passionate about Christmas music, so if you’re feeling generous this December, let someone else decide what to play on the car radio. Unless “Christmas Shoes” comes on, make an executive decision to turn that off. Ugly crying while driving is a safety hazard.
Give Green Gifts
Gift giving is a core part of spreading warmth and cheer during the holidays. There’s always room to step up our game, though. No matter who you’re buying for, cut Mother Nature in on the goodwill. Avoid toys with a lot of packaging. Give the whole family reusable water bottles. Avoid consumerism all together and re-gift something. I won’t tell anyone.
Learn Something New
It seems impossible to go through all of December without getting pulled in to the war on/for Christmas. No matter what you want on your Starbucks cup, I think it’s safe to say none of us have a complete knowledge of every culture’s holiday traditions. Broaden your horizons by spending some of your free time this holiday season learning something new. Find out why there’s three ways to spell Hanukah. Read about the origins of Kwanzaa. Google if The Belsnickel is a real thing, or just a myth they made up for “The Office.” At the very least, you’ll have facts to impress the folks at holiday parties.
Clean out your Closet
Hopefully you’ll be getting a bunch of new, cool stuff sometime this month, which means you’ll have some slightly older stuff you won’t need. Before you bust in to those presents, take some time to clean out your closet. Find some extra warm clothes to donate to those less fortunate, then bask in the pride that comes with a clean and organized room. Everybody wins.
Be the Chauffeur
The holidays are technically supposed to be a vacation, but it doesn’t always feel like it. If you’re like me, you spend a lot of the time on the go. It may seem small, but you can spare people from a lot of stress by simply offering to drive. Trade off with Dad on the way to Grandma’s. Pick up or drop off friends and family at the airport. Volunteer to be the New Years Eve designated driver. It’s an easy job, and it helps people avoid awkward Uber conversations.
Take More Time Off
There’s somebody out there who wants to spend more time with you this holiday season. Even if you called your mom, she’d rather see you in person. Take extra time away from the dinner table to really hash out who the best Spider-Man is. The holidays are about being together. Use that extra vacation day. Let some calls go to voicemail. Skip a weekend of yard work. You’re loved ones will be happier, and you will be too.