By Guest Contributor Maile Proctor
In the Christmas comedy “Elf”, Buddy, the ever cheerful, oversized elf, teaches us all that the best way to spread holiday cheer is to sing loud for all to hear. While all of us may not have angelic voices to share, we do all have unique gifts to promote happiness and kindness. In fact, science shows that humans are inherently wired for kindness, and our capacity grows with practice. We can use this to our advantage during the holiday season. The great news is that we can promote joy and kindness without breaking the bank. Here are eight inexpensive ways to spread holiday cheer.
It’s important to volunteer any time of year, but it’s even more meaningful for you and the people you can help during the holidays. Volunteering is a wonderful family activity, and a great way to instill important values in children.
There are countless ways to give back, you just have to be willing to give your time and seek out opportunities. Many people lend their time at soup kitchens, homeless shelters, hospitals, retirement homes, and assisted living communities. You can help those in need by serving a warm meal or spending time with people who would otherwise be alone during the holidays.
If you’re looking for more ideas, check out these fun holiday service projects for you and your family.
While we should be doing this all year, it’s important to think of those who may be less fortunate during the holidays. We can help by donating money, clothes, food, and/or service.
You can donate items to a clothing or food drive, or start your own! Also, look for opportunities to make small donations in your community. There are always organizations collecting donations at grocery stores and shopping malls. Remember, every little bit help!
Bake Holiday Treats
Who doesn’t love homemade holiday treats? You can bake cookies, brownies, muffins and more to bring to your neighbors, your children’s school, a community facility, or anywhere that could use some delicious desserts.
You can find inexpensive cookie cutters and holiday baking kits, or get creative on your own. If you have little ones at home, turn baking day into a fun-filled family activity!
Send Holiday Cards
Everyone loves getting holiday cards in the mail, it’s a welcome break from bills, store ads, and junk mail, and it lets friends and loved ones know you’re thinking of them. The best part is, when it comes to cards, the sky’s the limit. You can buy holiday card packs, make photo greetings, or create your own design (which the kids will enjoy as well).
If you’d like to save a few bucks and don’t want to buy cards, you can find thoughtful holiday e-cards online.
Decorate Your House
This may be a bit of a chore, but it’s one of the best ways to spread holiday cheer in your neighborhood. Plus, since you probably have decorations and lights stored away, you don’t need to spend any additional money to make it happen.
Holiday decor and lights don’t just make a neighborhood look warm, fun, and festive, they help others get into the holiday spirit!
You may question this suggestion, but smiling at people you encounter is one of the easiest ways to spread joy during the holidays, or any time of year.
Before you underestimate the power of a smile, consider this: not only can smiling enhance your own mood, but according to Huffington Post, because of the sensorimotor neurons in our brains, smiling is contagious, which means it can make others happier as well.
Plus, it’s entirely free (minus the cost of toothpaste, of course), so don’t forget to smile!
I know we were trying to offer alternatives to singing, but there’s something special about caroling during the holidays. If you don’t love your singing voice, you can always load the songs onto a phone or iPod so you can just join in with the professional singers.
Caroling is a great way to get the family involved, and you never know which neighbors may join in. Singing is fun, free, and it releases endorphins. So grab the family, bundle up in your winter duds, and pick some holiday tunes!
Call A Friend (or relative)
Because of our busy schedules and hectic day-to-day lives, we don’t always have time to connect with friends and family. Sure, there are text messages, emails, and Facebook, but it’s just not the same as a heart-to-heart conversation over the phone.
Call or 'FaceTime' someone you haven’t talked to in a while and let them know you’re thinking of them. We guarantee it will brighten their day (and yours)!
What are your favorite ways to spread holiday cheer? Let us know in the comments below!
Maile Proctor is a full-time blogger and content editor. She writes how-to articles, and on fitness, lifestyle, and tech topics. She earned her Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking and finding new, fun fitness activities.