People are always talking about how the holidays are a time for giving and blah, blah, blah. But what if you’re broke? Or too up to your ears in family stress to think about anything else? It’s OK, you can still give without engaging in heavy consumerism or abandoning your Christmas plans to volunteer at a soup kitchen (although that is a wonderful and generous thing to do). And don’t worry, we’re not going to suggest that you to smile at a stranger or bring your neighbor homemade, chicken noodle soup in a plaid thermos. This is real life, not a Folgers commercial. We know it’s not feasible to slave away over a crockpot during work hours, but it is totally possible to ask your co-worker if they want you to grab them lunch while you’re out — ask them for money, of course; we promised these things would be free! Here are 25 little ways to give this holiday season that cost nothing and might leave you feeling warm and fuzzy…
1. Hold the elevator door extra long for morning stragglers.
2. Let someone go in front of you in line at the grocery store — especially if they have a grumpy toddler in tow.
3. Do the chores your partner usually does as a surprise.
4. Give up your seat for someone who looks like they’ve had a crappier day than you.
5. Offer to wrap a friend’s Christmas presents for them.
6. Call or write an appreciative comment for someone who gave you great customer service. Make sure their manager gets the message.
7. Stop and watch the man in a bear costume playing “Get Lucky” in the subway station and clap for him with gusto.
8. Actually listen to that one coworker who is constantly talking/complaining about their life and obviously needs someone to talk to. Feeling particularly generous? Ask a few thoughtful questions.
9. Offer to pick up lunch for someone while you’re out. You don’t have to pay for it, just pick it up.
10. Put a holiday kerchief on your dog.
11. Text a friend a super specific compliment, like “you are so good at planning parties” or “you have better eyebrows than North West.”
12. Tell your sibling the story from when you were kids that makes them pee their pants every time.
13. Let your mother be right.
14. Post a picture of an inside joke on a friend’s Facebook page. No text, just the picture that only they will understand.
15. Go hiking with your dad, or whatever his equivalent is.
16. Make a Skype date with a friend who lives far away and actually follow through.
17. Pour your significant other a glass of wine before they get home.
18. Do a closet purge and if a friend has complimented anything you’re giving away, give it to them.
19. Offer help with a project at work instead of being asked.
20. Reorganize your roommate’s shoe pile in the living room.
21. Just text, “Hey, how are you?” to a friend you’ve been disconnected from.
22. DVR your family’s favorite holiday movies so they can watch them when they come over.
23. Let your youngest sibling choose the restaurant.
24. Say “thank you” to that annoying sales person at the department store, and not in a smarmy way.
25. Start a conversation with a nervous wallflower at a party.