It is the season of giving! As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, many of us take time to ponder all that we have been blessed with and consider how we might give back to others. Buying a special gift for every family member, friend, neighbor, co-worker, and church member just isn’t feasible for most budgets. But keep in mind every gift doesn’t have to fit into a box.
While a new sweater, book, or perfume is a lovely gift, I think gifts of service are even more thoughtful and personal. For most people, schedules at the end of the year are jam-packed. From preparing our homes for holiday festivities to traveling to see loved ones and attending various events – some of us struggle to even come up for air. Consider how you might lighten someone’s load this season with an act of service. Below are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Help with yard work.
Housework alone can seem so overwhelming at times that yard work is the last thing on my to-do list, and I’m sure I’m not alone! Take an hour to rake someone’s leaves, trim their bushes, or even decorate their front door for the season. We could all use an extra hand checking some items off our to-do lists.
2. Cook a meal.
There’s nothing quite like a home-cooked meal, but the reality is some of us simply don’t have the time or energy to do it. Cook a meal for an elderly neighbor or church member who lives alone, a family who has a loved one in the hospital, or a mother who simply has too many other things to do. Or invite someone who doesn’t have family around to join yours for dinner one evening.
3. Volunteer to babysit.
Show of hands: How many parents could use a night off? Volunteer to watch someone’s kids for the evening so that the parents can have a night out, or if they’d rather have a quiet night in, get the kids out of the house for the evening. Do if for free; I guarantee the parents will appreciate the help.
4. Spruce up their vehicle.
Deep cleaning my car isn’t something I’m as consistent about as I should be, especially during the colder months. With their consent, take someone’s car through the car wash, vacuum the floor mats and seats, dust the dashboard and walls, or ensure they’re up to date on an oil change. Even scraping the ice off your neighbor’s car or the stranger’s car parked next to you on campus makes an impact, as most of us are in and out of our vehicles every day.
5. A sweet treat.
Baking is one of my love languages, and I will often bake family something sweet around the holidays. But with all the other festivities going on, there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of sweets. While dropping off a baked good is thoughtful, treat someone out for a cup of coffee instead. Even if it’s only for 30 minutes, ask them how they’re doing, encourage them, and just remind them that you care about them. Most holiday events aren’t structured for one-on-one conversation, so carve out a bit of time to love on someone in particular.
If you’re not sure what kind of service a loved one needs, simply ask them for ways you can lend a helping hand. Maybe it’s helping them get caught up on laundry, being a co-shopper for a big dinner, or simply taking the dog for a walk. Whatever it may be, find ways to intentionally serve others this holiday season.