Start your day right with random acts of kindness to brighten anyone’s mood. Here are 35 ideas to make family, friends and strangers happy.
The door held open, the extra tip for the delivery person, or the unexpected flowers for your loved ones.
These are little things we can do to brighten the mood—others’ as well as our own. It’s the little things that count, including showing kindness and making others feel better.
For your kids, maybe it’s a gift without a special occasion, or a surprise trip to the coffee shop for some one-on-one time. Perhaps it’s a new children’s book for your child’s teacher, or a bonus day off for his nanny.
The beauty of practicing acts of kindness is that both people are equally delighted. The other person for receiving a random, kind gesture, and you, for knowing you’ve brightened someone’s day.
Ironic as it is, the act of giving is very much cyclical, since you receive just as much. In fact, if you ever feel down for whatever reason, it’s often in giving to others that will most lift your spirit.
Random acts of kindness to brighten anyone’s mood
As parents, we have even more of an opportunity, or even a responsibility, to model random acts of kindness to others. Our kids watch and mimic how we behave, both the good and the bad. Not only can they be recipients of kindness, they also know it’s normal to show it.
One thing I love about random acts of kindness is that they happen out of nowhere. Some we can plan, like giving a surprise gift card to a client. But others can be spontaneous, like letting the person behind us go first in the grocery.
Each act of kindness is a “deposit” in humanity’s “happiness bank.” And just like a bank, you can imagine that the more deposits we make, the more that kindness will appreciate. To get you started, below are several ideas to spread good cheer among friends, family and community:
Kindness to your partner
- Buy flowers, chocolate, or wine. You could do so to celebrate the start of the weekend or a milestone met. But don’t forget random “just because” days as well to show that you love him or her.
- Offer a 15-minute massage. Even just 15 minutes (because I don’t know how spa staff can do this for an hour!) is a nice welcome.
- Fill up his car so he has a full tank of gas. Starting the week off with a near-empty tank of gas can kill any Monday morning. If you notice that his car is running low, fill it up for him as a nice surprise.
- Pack snacks if he’s expecting a long day. My husband was so touched to see fruits and trail mix sitting in the car for what was going to be a long day at work.
- Leave a sticky note with a loving message on the bathroom mirror or by the coffee maker. A simple word of encouragement or acknowledgement will boost anyone’s spirit!
- Send a mid-day, “I love you” text. This will make just about anyone smile.
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Kindness to your kids
- Prepare a special breakfast or snack. For instance, you can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that looks like a bear and a monkey!
- Buy or borrow a favorite children’s book. I normally read my son four books, so when he saw we only had three in hand, he asked about the fourth one. “Oh, let me go get it,” I said, before returning with a brand new favorite book he loved. Pure joy in his eyes!
- Announce an unexpected trip to the park/beach/trail. After school is done, ditch your usual day by riding his bicycle at the park. You can also take a quick trip to the beach or trail for a nice walk.
- Play a game without any distractions. Forget the phone, chores, or anything else that keeps you from being 100% focused on your kids. Instead, bring out a few games and play with each other.
- Dance. “Hokey Pokey,” “Wheels on the Bus,” “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” “If You’re Happy and You Know It,”—it’s like children’s aerobics!
Kindness to your child’s teacher or caregiver
- Offer your nanny a paid day off on her birthday. I’m one of those people who refuses to work on her birthday, and I made sure our nanny didn’t have to, either.
- Give a coffee card or even a cup of coffee, just because. I was volunteering in my son’s class when his teacher smiled and shared, “Where’s a cup coffee when you need one?” The following day, I came ready with exactly that for her. Her response? “This made my week!”
- Write a thank-you note for her hard work or for a time when she went above and beyond.
- Surprise her with her favorite sweet treats. You can also give the staff a box of cookies or goodies.
- Come home early so your nanny can go home early.
- Give your nanny money so she can enjoy a lunch out during the day.
- Furnish your child’s teacher with school supplies or unique teacher gifts.
- Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week and National Nanny Recognition Week.
Kindness to your friends
- Give new parents baby and children’s clothes your kids have grown out of. I was glad to have given away bags of baby clothes to friends and even acquaintances.
- Send a Kiva card. I’m a fan of micro-lending to help others. Giving your friends the opportunity to give is all the more wonderful.
- Send a friend a text saying, “Just thinking of you!” I’m blessed with amazing friends who send me texts like this. Reading their messages truly makes me smile.
- Treat friends to lunch or dinner, then catch up with everything’s that new. This is absolutely one of my favorite ways to spend my time.
- Bake a cake and invite friends and neighbors over to help finish it. This is a great way to get a play date going is to invite friends with kids over.
Kindness to your coworkers
- Buy a dozen donuts for everyone. A co-worker of mine regularly walked around with a box of donuts in hand. What a great start to a work day!
- Treat a coworker to a mid-day coffee run.
- Leave a chocolate bar on a coworker’s desk if she’s going through difficult times. A co-worker of mine appreciated this simple gesture after she confided some challenges with her kids (don’t we all have those!).
- Get everyone together and surprise a coworker with cake for her birthday.
- Fill your coworker’s office space with several balloons on his birthday. Then send an email to everyone to get a free balloon (and wish the celebrant a happy birthday). A co-worker did this for his colleague, and his cubicle looked amazing with all the balloons. The balloons also drew people to his area who then showered him with plenty of birthday greetings.
Kindness to your community
- Leave a 100% tip to a well-deserving waiter or barista. If someone goes out of your way, or is your regular server, brighten their day with an amazing tip.
- Donate books in good condition to the library or to friends and family. I’m grateful to my family who have kindly given me their old children’s books, and I do the same with my own.
- Leave or give unused coupons at the grocery or store. I’ve found coupons left on shelves and have also passed along free movie popcorn coupons to people behind us in line.
- Leave a bag of treats for your mail carrier. Thank them for their services or wishing them a happy holiday. I still love the look on our mailman’s face when my then two-year-old handed him a bag of treats for the holidays.
- Knock on neighbors’ doors to hand out holiday treat bags. We went door-to-door, knocking on neighbors doors when we had handed out treats. We even met new neighbors and began a new tradition.
- Hold the door open for someone—with a smile. Such a simple act, but a sign of the kindness that warms our hearts.
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Now more than ever do we need acts of kindness toward others, from those we love and even to strangers.
Shower your partner with surprise notes and treat the kids to a special breakfast. Give your child’s teachers a well-deserved gift card, and come prepared with a box of goodies for coworkers. Leave a bag of treats for your mail carrier, or hand out holiday gifts to neighbors.
And sometimes a simple gesture—a kind smile, a door held open—is all it takes to spread kindness around us.
Want more ideas? Check out Adventures in Kindness by Carrie and Sophia Fox, illustrated by Nichole Wong Forti:
Get more tips:
- 10 Children’s Books about Being Kind
- 5 Easy Tips for Kids to Learn Empathy
- Help Your Child WANT to Behave
- How to Raise a Kind Child
- 9 Warning Signs You’re Raising a Spoiled Child
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