2021 is winding down, and I’m tired. It was no 2020, but this year certainly did a number on my morale. While there’s nothing magical about a new year, I won’t mind seeing this one in the rearview mirror. 

I usually don’t think about what I’m doing for Christmas until December hits. I’m not one of those highly organized people with their shopping done by mid-October – I have two kids’ birthdays to execute first!

But this year, with the warnings about supply-chain issues and shipping delays, Christmas slipped into my mind before I had even finished the Halloween costumes.

Along with the practical considerations of gifts and logistics, I also find myself thinking about what I want my holiday season experience to be like. I tend to romanticize the season, hoping for hot chocolate in the evenings and Christmas books and songs at bedtime. Too often, it all slips away with the season’s preparations and busyness. 

Some years, I put together a little Advent calendar of fun, Christmas-y things for my family to do in the days leading up to Christmas.

I have 25 paper envelopes I made over a decade ago and slips of paper with ideas on them – things like go caroling, wear red and green, drink hot chocolate, or watch a Christmas movie. Lately, this plan has gone by the wayside; instead, I’ve gone into survival mode, hoping I can meet the obligations of the season in addition to my regular list of to-dos.

This year, I want to bring my little Advent calendar back, but with a twist.

Instead of focusing on creating an Instagrammable, cozy little snow globe scene of a December, I want to reach out to other people. I think there is something a little magical about stepping outside yourself to help someone else. It seems counterintuitive, but even when I’m at my most stressed, when I reach out and help someone, I feel connected and a little bit less worried about all the concerns tugging at me. While of course we must know our limits and boundaries, adding a little kindness and service for others can bring a magic to the season that no holiday music or cozy sweater can duplicate. 

How can you make your own Kindness Advent calendar? 

Your Kindness Advent calendar can be as simple or fancy as you want. You can print out a blank calendar, repurpose an Advent calendar you already have, or draw pieces of paper out of a Mason jar. You can even just write a list of ideas down and check them off as they come. 

What should I do?

Every family is different, so you know best how you and your family can bring a smile to the faces of those around you. If you choose a big project for the season, like adopting a family, maybe you’ll want to list out all the different steps you need to take and assign them to different days.

I have a list of ideas for you below, but feel free to brainstorm (and share with us in the comments!) other ideas that you come up with. 

  • Write Christmas cards to loved ones or soldiers overseas
  • Bring a meal to a friend with a deployed family member
  • Give some money to a Salvation Army bell ringer
  • Make a video of your kids singing a Christmas song and send it to faraway family members
  • Donate blood
  • Offer to watch a friend’s kids so they can go shopping or have a quick break
  • Adopt a family for Christmas
  • Donate food to your local food bank
  • Write a thank you card to someone who has helped you in the past
  • Pay for someone behind you in line
  • Donate money to a cause that is important to you
  • See if your community has a refugee center and find a way to get involved
  • Choose a book you loved off your shelves and gift it to someone
  • Choose toys or other items to donate
  • Surprise a family member by doing all their chores for the day
  • Scrape your neighbor’s windshield
  • Thank a healthcare worker
  • Pick up litter
  • Compliment a stranger
  • Choose to give someone the benefit of the doubt
  • Shovel a neighbor’s sidewalks
  • Bake a treat for a friend

Regardless of what or how you celebrate this year, I hope we can close out this rollercoaster of a year with kindness. If you participate in a kindness advent calendar this December, share with us your best ideas and how it went!

1 COMMENT

  1. Always love your writing and reflections Lorren, and I love this list. Would add: write a thank you and include a big tip for the retail workers who have been brightening your day or just keeping your family in supplies – grocery store workers, baristas, delivery drivers, anyone else. This year has been brutal for us.

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