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You totally meant to hold the door for the old lady behind you…but you were rushing and your brain was in overdrive and oh dear God how are you supposed to shop for 42 people again?

First, take a deep breath. Then remember that kindness is actually what the holiday season is all about. Here, 31 ways for you to pay it forward and give back.


1. Make like a mensch and relinquish that mall parking space. (We know, we know: Your blinker was on first.)

2. Pick up the tab for the person behind you in line at Starbucks.

3. And while you're at it, hold the door.


4. Send your friend who hosted a holiday party an actual thank-you note. (Like on paper.)

5. For every gift you receive, send an actual thank-you note. (Like on paper.)

6. Tip your garbageman. (Not just a Bundt cake.)


7. At the grocery store, let the person behind you in line go first.

8. Help your neighbor rake the leaves.

9. Or shovel their walk the next time it snows.

10. Volunteer to do the dishes. (Even if you cooked.)


11. Bring the hostess one regular bottle of wine and one  “to-be-opened-later” bottle of wine. 

12. Donate last year’s puffer coat.

13. Drop off a holiday poinsettia at your local hospital just because.

14. Drop off a holiday poinsettia for the post office clerk just because.


15. Put your cell phone away at the checkout counter.

16. Think about a relative you haven't spoken to in a while. Call them.

17. Offer to help a frazzled pal wrap her presents.


18. Pay the toll for the car behind you in traffic.

19. Feed someone else’s parking meter when you notice it’s about to expire.

20. Donate a toy to a local toy drive. (Toys for Tots can help you find where to give.)


21. Leave your neighbors a Post-It note complimenting their off-the-hook outdoor holiday decor.

22. Offer to carry a heavy package for someone struggling down the street.

23. Ditto for a heavy suitcase.


24. Pass a holiday discount coupon to another shopper on your way out the door.

25. Fill out an employee comment card when all you have are good things to say.

26. Send dessert to another table.

27. Leave a copy of a book you finished (and loved) on the train or the bus with a note telling the finder it’s theirs to keep.


28. Offer to be the designated driver.

29. And then prove that you can be a fun party guest when stone cold sober.

30. Send your mom a gift of Zen.

31. Smile with abandon. Even when the Toys "R" Us guy tells you they’re out of Fisher-Price farm sets.

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