Some people call it an Advent Calendar. Some call it a Christmas Countdown. It’s that thing that hangs on the wall or sits on a shelf. Each day holds a surprise until the Big Day. This year we are doing a Kindness Calendar.
We all need to practice a little more kindness all year round, not just kids and not just at Christmas. If nothing else, I want my son to be kind. He already has a big heart and big emotions. But, like most 4-year-olds, he’s a bit egocentric. That’s fine and normal. Empathy is a skill that needs to be taught.
Kindness begins at home.
How we treat our family and friends has a huge impact on our children. We need to lead by example. So, while the activities I’m going to share with you are design with little ones in mind, they work for grown ups, too.
Since my son was a two, we have done an advent calendar for him. I usually put in some candy coins, small toys, and holiday activities. Last year, I started to incorporate acts of kindness in the calendar. Not too many because my son was only 3 at the time. This year, I want to increase the number of kindness activities.
I’d love to say we are going to do a kindness activity everyday until Christmas. But, let’s be real. The holidays are busy. And stressful. So, I’m going to aim for 10 kindness activities. That’s more than one a week, so hopefully the message with sink in. I feel that is plenty for a young child. The rest of the days will be filled in with fun activities or treats.
You don’t need a fancy advent calendar, either.
Kindness calendars don’t have to be fancy heirlooms. They don’t even have to be calendars. A mason jar or Christmas stocking could work just fine. Have your child choose one at random.
If you want to get fancy, we got a beautiful advent calendar at Home Goods two years ago. I’ve seen similar at Target and Michael’s. You could also go on trusty ol’ Pinterest and find a DIY version, if you’re feeling crafty.
Pinterest is also a great place to look for ideas for what to do for the rest of the days. Like I said, we usually do a mix of treats, activities, and acts of kindness. Previous years we have put in Hot Wheels cars (not a good idea since our calendar is open. Duh, mom) and Thomas mini trains. Chocolate coins are my son’s favorite, so I will be adding some of those to the calendar, again this year. (just be ok with our kid having chocolate for breakfast) I also got my son a Lego Advent Calendar, too.
Non-Kindness activities (that doesn’t sound right, but you know what I mean) can be going to a light display, visiting Santa, writing letters to Santa, doing a Christmas craft, etc.
Here are 25 Acts of Kindness to get your gears going.
These are suggestions only, obviously. They are meant to inspire and give you ideas. Take what you want and add your own ideas. I’m an introvert and so is my son to a certain extent, so most of these are minimum human interaction. Hahaha.
- Donate to the local Animal Shelter. Pick up some food and toys and drop them off at the shelter. Check out the shelter’s Facebook or Website to see what they are in need of or give them a call.
- Donate to a local Toy Drive. Pick out a toy for Toys for Tots or a local toy drive. Check out #LittleWheelsBigHearts on Instagram or Twitter and help them out with their efforts. MNC has already donated 5 to their cause.
- Deliver cookies to your neighbors. Leave cookies or treats on your neighbors doorsteps. This is fun to do anonymously, but you can also leave a little note, too.
- Invite friends over for a Christmas Playdate. Invite some of your child’s friends over for a Christmas playdate. They can do a craft, have some festive snacks, and play some holiday-themed games.
- Leave hats and gloves around town. This is something I enjoy doing and is my personal activity for the season. I leave hats and scarves that I crochet all over town for those who may want them. I include a tag that explains that they are for the taking. But, you could also pick up some inexpensive hats and gloves at the dollar store or Walmart and do the same.
- Send a surprise gift to a far away relative or friend. My son’s 2 youngest cousins live 2 hours away, so we plan on sending thema little surprise care packages this season. You could do the same for a grandparent or elderly relative, too.
- Make Cards for a Nursing Home. Like I said, minimal human interaction. Make cards and drop them off with some other small item (candy, cookies, nice soaps or lotions. Check with the nursing home to see if they have suggestions or restrictions). If you are social than me, then stay and visit with some of the residents, too.
- Donate outgrown books to the Library. Encourage your child to choose some of their old books to donate to the local library. Most libraries have a drop box for such donations. These are often used in book sales which help raise funds for the library.
- Donate old toys to charity or shelter. Encourage (make) your child choose at least 5 toys to donate. Set up a box and have them go around the house and find at minimum 5 toys that are in good condition to give to those in need. This is going be tough for us, but I’m going to make it a priority.
- Deliver treats to the local police station or firehouse. First responders work hard all year to keep us safe. Say thank you by dropping off some treats. This could be cookies, donuts, pretzels, etc. Whatever is in your budget and you think they would appreciate.
- Adopt a soldier. More people who keep us safe and great personal sacrifice. Go to AdoptaUSSoldier.org and check out the good work they do. Send a card/letter or a care package to one of our brave soldiers overseas.
- Candy Cane bomb your neighborhood. Leave candy canes on neighbors doors or in their mailboxes. Do as many as you can afford. You can make a little tag that says Merry Christmas or make up something fun.
- Candy Cane bomb a store or restaurant. Hand out candy canes to random people at Target or McDonalds or wherever. Encourage your child to do at least 5. This one is a little cringey for me, but I don’t want my child to be shy like me, so I feel it is important.
- Help Mommy make dinner (or any chore). Wink, wink. Hey, you’ve got to benefit from this list somehow, right? But, really, it’s important that your child doesn’t take you for granted. This is a nice reminder for them that they have to be nice to Mommy and Daddy, too.
- No tantrums for the day. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?
- Make gifts for Grandparents. Have your child make a special gift for their grandparents. We do this every year and our parents love it. We have made them ornaments, mugs, and pictures. Hope on over to Google or Pinterest for ideas.
- Make or pick out a gift for Mommy and Daddy. You and your spouse take your child to a store (like 5 Below) and you each take turns having your child shop for the other. Then, go home and help your child wrap/package the gifts they bought.
- Leave a card and treat for the Postal Carrier. They work hard all year, but especially this time of year. Say thanks (and sorry) for delivering all your packages this past year.
- Make a cards for teachers. Your child’s teacher(s) have to put up with them all year round. Tell them thank you with a card. As a former preschool teacher, I can tell that I cherished every handmade card/gift I ever received.
- Bring a treat to school. Get permission from the teachers first. This is a really nice idea for those kids with Summer birthdays to be able to bring something to share with the class.
- Feed the birds at the Park. Bring a bag of bird seed to the local park and feed the birds. We like putting piles of it in trees and on benches. Pick a particularly cold day, to spread some love to our feathered friends.
- Leave a package of baby wipes in every public change room you encounter for the day. This is more for the mommies, but the kids can get involved too. Remember how awful it was to get into those cramped stalls, wrestle your 18-month-old onto the change table, get everything off and discover that you forgot the wipes! Help a mama out and leave some emergency wipes.
- Deliver a “dinner is on us” box to a random neighbor. Not to your friends next door. Give to someone you don’t interact with regularly. Maybe an elderly neighbor or someone who is struggling . Or just give it to the 10th house on your block. Whatever your criteria, this is a anonymous box that contains all the ingredients for a simple dinner – pasta, sauce, etc. Don’t forget a dessert. Alternative is a “movie night box” – popcorn, candy, sodas, and a credit for RedBox.
- Feed the Deer or Build a Habitat for Feral Cats. If not forbidden, feed buy some corn and feed the deer at the park. Community cats need warm places to sleep in the Winter. Try building a simple house for them. Or ask where you can feed the cats. Contact a local rescue group to assist you.
- Help a Neighbor. Help someone in your neighborhood. You can rake leaves, bring in their trash cans, collect their mail. Anything that may be of help.
There you go. Twenty-five ideas on how you can spread some kindness in your neighborhood. Some cost a little bit of money, but not much. Many you can do for free or next to nothing. Do them all or pick a few.
To help you out, here is a free printable for “Be Kind” tags. Print, cut, and fill in the activity in the box. Then pop them in your advent calendar. Download and print your own Be Kind Tags.
Do you have any Random Acts of Kindness to add to our list? I’d love to hear them. Tag me at #mnc_kindnesscalendar