Kindness truly comes in all shapes and sizes, and it can be incredibly powerful in its various forms. In a world that can feel filled with darkness, you can make a meaningful difference in someone’s day and life by channeling your inner Girl Scout and paying it forward with a little (or BIG) dash of love, light, and service.
This Thanksgiving, savor every last bite of turkey and mashed potatoes, ravish that pumpkin pie, and fill your belly with laughter as you enjoy quality time with friends and family. Just don’t forget to leave room for a little gesture that can make a BIG difference. Here are nine small yet powerful ways to pay it forward this Thanksgiving, and to remind others how much AWESOME there is in the world. And make sure to encourage friends and family to join you on these fun, make-the-world-a-better-place adventures in giving!
1. Did you buy a little more food than you ended up needing for your Thanksgiving meal? Quick, head to a local homeless shelter or charity, or a neighbor’s home—anyone you know who might be running a little low this year—and offer up your unopened and unused items. As a nice touch, if you’re giving to a neighbor, leave a basket with the items at their door and include a well-wishing note, giving them the extra special joy of receiving an anonymous gift from a kind stranger.
2. Lucky enough to have some very special people in your life? We sure hope so! Get your writing hats on and pen or text thank-you notes to friends and family. Let them know three reasons you are especially grateful for them this year; you’ll fill them with warmth.
3. Have a friend in need of a little pick-me-up? Surprise them with a just-because-you’re-awesome lunchbox filled with her or his favorite Thanksgiving leftovers. (Turkey sandwich, anyone?) Include some inspirational sticky notes to lighten their mood, and you’ve just given a special someone a meal to remember!
4. Do you have a coworker that is particularly stressed out at work or at home? Make their day: get to work a little early and leave a gift card for coffee or some other small treat you know they’ll love, along with a note with something like “Have a GREAT day! You deserve it!” So simple. So powerful!
5. Have an all-time favorite book that makes you feel all kinds of good inside? Order a couple copies and give them out to three complete strangers. Include a note on the inside cover that explains why you love the book so much and what you hope they’ll take away from it. After all, sharing is totally caring.
6. Ready to shine a little light on a stranger’s day? Let’s do it! Make it a goal to give out at least one compliment every day next week. Then see if you can stop yourself from spreading the love every week thereafter!
7. Looking to make some very brave and amazing people very happy? Contact your local USO and ask them for a list of most-needed items for their soldiers. Then, get together with a bunch of friends and family to make care packages filled with necessities, treats, and notes of encouragement. Ask the USO when you can make your delivery, and get to spreadin’ that cheer!
8. Ready to do some really meaningful giving back? On Thanksgiving Day, forfeit the turkey and football, and take the family down to a soup kitchen, shelter, or hospital to serve food or help out in some other way—even if it’s just passing out hugs. You’ll bring joy to folks who desperately need it this holiday season. It’s a great opportunity to bond and focus on what’s really important with those closest to you. Now that’s what we call Thanksgiving!