There are so many ways to spread cheer and change lives during the holidays (or really any time of year). From surprising people with generous tips, to sponsoring families in need, organizing gift wrap-athons with neighbors, asking for an unexpected way to be of service, or bringing friends in on the fun to create a massive ripple effect of love and care… my husband and I have made a holiday tradition of finding a fun way to give each year that sparks joy for us the entire rest of the year.
Below, I’m sharing a few of our favorite ideas that you can adapt to have a lasting impact on you, your family, and those in need.
3 Ideas to Change Lives With Any Amount
Sponsor a Local Family in Need
One tradition that we’ve come to look forward to each year is sponsoring families in need.
To find these families, we usually post in a local Facebook Group asking people to recommend families in need, or check with local schools, women’s shelters, or at-risk youth centers. Then, we ask for their gift requests. Usually, they ask for basics like socks, warm clothes, or household items. And that’s where the fun comes in.
We set the expectation that we’re just picking up a few things, but then secretly go crazy shopping for them. We try to pick up their entire list, to really go above and beyond, even with fun things that they don’t expect. We load our car, and then deliver the gifts to the families.
One year, we let our neighbors in on the fun and had a wrapping party bundled in our garage with winter food and beverages. Another year, we blessed a family in need with enough to bless another family in need.
It’s always one of our favorite weekends of the year. The more people that you can let in on the fun, the better. Invite friends, family, neighbors… it gets everyone into the holiday spirit and reminds everyone that they are loved and able to bless one another in big and little ways.
Surprise a Waiter with a Huge Tip
Another tradition that we love is tipping generously. It’s such a blessing to be able to go out and enjoy a nice dinner. It’s even more fun to give the waiter a huge tip that they don’t expect.
You never know what someone is going through. What car payment they’re worried about, how many kids they have at home, or what relationship drama is causing stress. I love to imagine being placed in the right person’s path and giving them enough to turn their day around. You have probably had a day where you felt like no one cared and the weight of the world was on your shoulders; imagine how much a simple smile changes, let alone resources to alleviate some of your woes.
I’ve heard of people organizing holiday brunches, where around 10 people go to a restaurant and each tip $100 to a lucky waiter. I love this idea and hope to do it a future year. But it doesn’t take the holidays. Any time of year—any random dinner out—you can make your day and someone else’s by tipping whatever amount speaks to you.
Ask to Be a Blessing in Some Way
A third idea to change lives is to simply ask to a blessing. I love this method because you never know who will cross your path, and it feels like some secret between you and the universe.
Once, when we were driving, someone broke down in front of us, so we pulled over and offered them some cash to fix their car. They couldn’t believe it and it made us all so happy. I’ve heard of other people walking the beach and seeing a proposal happen in front of them, so they offered to take photos that the happy couple could cherish forever.
It’s not just about money. Whatever you have to give, whatever way you want to serve, there are countless ways to be a blessing and make a difference for others.
Would love to hear in the comments: Which idea speaks to you? Is there another tradition that you and your family love? Has anyone ever made a difference for you in some way?
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