It’s Christmas Eve tomorrow and, by now, you’ve probably done all your shopping for presents. We all love to give and receive brightly-coloured parcels, but often the gifts that people really appreciate and remember are those that cost no more than a little thought and effort. Don’t believe me? Here’s my personal list of ten things you can still give before Christmas that’ll be gratefully received – and they won’t cost you any money!
1. An act of kindness – call on a neighbour or relative who’s alone or elderly and just ask if there’s anything you can do for them. In their shoes you’d appreciate the gesture. (Try not to become a pest though and know when to back off)
2. Get the family round the table – whether it’s for a family meal, a board game or just a chat over coffee, turning off those devices for an hour or two will bring you all together. (If things start to become too argumentative, you can always switch on the TV again)
3. Get back in touch – call or visit a friend or relative you haven’t seen for ages. (Although perhaps worth reflecting on the reason for the sustained absence first)
4. Make time for your children – it’s so easy to say “I’m too busy right now” or “I’ll look at that later”. Just a few minutes of your time will put a smile on your child’s face. (Of course, this needs to be balanced with the need to teach your children the lasting benefits of ‘alone time’)
5. Volunteer to help – there are so many organisations and charities that need a helping hand at this time of year. Your local village hall or community centre is a great place to start. (But remember, charity begins at home! You could always start with some domestic chores)
6. Smile – it’s cold outside and people are hurrying to get to their destinations, often with faces set in grim determination. Try a smile or two for strangers and I bet you get one back! (It’s important to keep it nice and natural though and not some manic, crazed grin)
7. Give someone your last Rolo – or anything else for that matter. Trust me, you’ll get a good feeling. (Of course, it feels even better if you know that you have some more in the cupboard!)
8. Visit a church or place of worship – even if you’re not a believer, take a few minutes to reflect and give a thought for those worse off than you. (If nerves get the better of you and you get the urge to giggle, try to turn it into joyous laughter instead)
9. Tell the world what you think of someone – a public posting on Facebook or Twitter is a great way to let someone know they’re appreciated (mind you, this assumes you do actually appreciate them – other sentiments are probably best left until after the festive season)
10. Say “I love you” – and mean it. Not the usual reflex response, but an unprompted, heartfelt declaration of love. (Always best reserved for those you know and really do love, to avoid any social embarrassment and unwanted relationship developments)
There – ten things that you can give this Christmas that won’t cost you a penny, but will make a big difference. And I bet they’ll also make you feel pretty good about yourself too.
Merry Christmas and happy giving!