20 Ways to Be Kind to Strangers The Week Before Christmas

The Fundamental Home

This is the week before Christmas, and if you plan to be out in public at all, you need to brace yourself.  I know because I have been out in public all day.  It’s a war zone out there- and I live in the sweet south.

Maybe it’s just me.

Maybe I had a challenging day.

Maybe I was in Walmart three times before 2PM.

No maybe about it.  I definitely was in Walmart three times before 2PM.

That last time, I was a bit embarrassed to go in and pass the same door greeter.

It all started when I ran in there early this morning for a planned errand.

No big deal.  I was in and out.  Easy Peasy.  I ran home to get Brian and take him to work.  Then, I met up with my friend for our weekly hang out.  We met this week on Thursday instead of Friday.  After that, my children and I ran back in Walmart because it was on the way home, we needed cat food, and some of us needed a little break.  Not a problem.  Lots of people probably go to Walmart twice in one day.  Maybe you forgot something the first time.  Then, this afternoon, I had to go get a tire changed on the truck- also a planned errand.  While I was waiting for that I popped in a thrift store.  So far so good.  It was after I got the truck back that I knew I was in for trouble.  I noticed that the windshield wipers were falling apart.  It had been raining in fits and spurts all day, so I knew that I would need to get wipers.  I also knew that Walmart had the best local prices by a significant margin.

Did I dare go back to Walmart a third time?

The part of me that was ashamed to walk back in again wrestled with the part of me that likes to save money.

Cheap mama won.  I went back to Walmart.

My husband laughed at me.  He agreed that the third trip was a little embarrassing.  We live in a small-ish town. People know us in Walmart, like- EVERYONE.  It’s not like I can hide.

This is one of those times I miss city living.  No one would have noticed the third trip in any of the cities I have lived in.  I think everyone here knew it.  I could tell by their quizzical looks as I breezed in, trying to act as though nothing was out of the ordinary.

Nothing going on here.  Apparently, I am losing my mind because I need three trips to Walmart today.  Just go about your daily business folks.  Nothing to see.

I am definitely not Martha Stewart.  She’s got it all under control.  Me.  Not so much.

After Walmart trip #3 (and putting on the wipers), I needed to consume a shame-covering Frosty.  So, we grabbed a bite at our favorite, local dollar menu location- Wendy’s if you don’t know!  Then, it was time for grocery shopping, a stop at the video store for a family movie, and a peek into another thrift store before going home.

It was close to 6PM when I arrived home.

It was close to 6AM when I left home this morning for my first Walmart trip.

This girl was worn out at the end of the day, and I wasn’t even shopping for gifts!  The people shopping for gifts looked like they were having a harder time than I was.

You know what ladies?  This week, the gift-shoppers are precisely the kind of people you will encounter if you are going out.  Just expect to meet shoppers on a marathon, stress-filled, coffee-fueled present hunt when you hit the road.  If you are out in the evening, chances are you will run into someone who was up early trying to get it all done.

And you won’t have any idea what has happened to them in their journey through the day.

Maybe they’re like me, and had a tire start to go flat.  That would put anyone in a bad mood.

Maybe their identity was stolen, and after shopping for hours choosing the right gift, they discover their bank account is empty.

Maybe they are walking around, wishing they could make purchases, but their medical expenses are so high that they are really just hoping to afford food until their next paycheck.

You really have no idea what is going on in the lives of those that you will meet this weekend.  These people need the kindness of strangers.  That’s where we come in.

To combat the anticipated stress this weekend, I am proposing that we all decide here are now to be kind to strangers this week.  You see, if we purpose to do it before the now, we will be ready with our kindness ammo when we see a possible target.  I want to share with you 20 ways you can make this happen, most of which are free.  Here they are:

  1.  SMILE!  Smile at everyone.  Don’t worry.  It’s not creepy at Christmas.  Smile.  It’s easy, free, and is the first way you can be kind to a stranger.
  2. Say “Merry Christmas!”  I know.  There will be some who don’t appreciate this.  That’s OK.  Keep saying it anyway.  The more merriment you make, the more the Christmas Spirit catches on.
  3. Say “Thank You!”  I have mentioned my husband works in retail.  This time of year is hard for workers in the industry.  A simple thank you goes a long way.
  4. Open the Door for Someone.  My husband has always jumped to open the door for others.  He has taught the boys to do this, too.  This time of year, it is especially common to see people struggling with doors and packages.  Be quick to lend some assistance if you have an opportunity.
  5. Allow Someone to Open the Door for You.  Yes.  Accepting kindness is kind.  I can’t tell you how many times I have seen someone open a door for someone else, and they just stand there as though they are afraid to walk through.  It is awkward, and ruins the gesture.  If someones opens the door for you, allow them to, even if you are capable, and even if you were going in another door.  It will make them feel good.  Don’t forget to say, “Thank you.”
  6.  Say “Please.”  I know.  The people you meet in stores are getting paid to help you.  Still, that doesn’t mean that you don’t owe them common decency.  If you ask someone to get something for you on a high shelf, say,”Please.”  Smile while you do it.  Then, say, “Thank you.”
  7. Give A Compliment.  Everyone likes to hear nice things.  This is especially true if they are in a difficult situation.  If a cashier has had a rude customer, tell them they handled the situation well (if they did).  Appreciate their courtesy.  If the line is slow, but they are doing their best, let them know you saw their effort.  If you are in a long line, tell the pleasant customer next to you what a blessing their patience is.  A compliment makes everyone’s day brighter.
  8. Tell a Manager about Excellent Service you Receive.  Go a step further and let management know about service that goes above and beyond.  Don’t take up too much of their time because they are super busy this time of year.  Just a kind word to those in leadership can cause a positive chain of events that trickles down throughout the store.
  9. Call the Customer Service Line or Participate in the Survey on Your Receipt.  When you contact the company directly, it impacts those who work more than you know.  People get recognition, bonuses, and opportunities for advancement if you take a moment to let companies know about your positive experience.  Chances are, there is a lot of negative feedback this time of year.  Take a minute to get the word out.  Email the company.  Tweet them.  Just let them know about the good work people are doing in their name, and it will bless others.  You might even get a little savings in return.
  10. Share Bargains.  If you know of a bargain, share it with others.  If you have a coupon you aren’t using, give it to someone else.  People are desperately trying to save money.  If you can help them out, by all means do.
  11. Let People Go Ahead of You in Line.  Everyone is busy.  If you have an extra minute, let someone go ahead of you.  They probably won’t believe you if you offer 🙂
  12. Clean Up a Mess You See.  Am I the only one who does this?  I do not like to go into a fast food restaurant and see that customers have left trash everywhere.  If the staff is busy, it may take them a minute to get to it.  I will grab a napkin, and use that napkin to pick up trash (this way, I stay away from icky germs).  Then, I may even wipe the table and chairs down.  It’s just a dry napkin.  It’s not really “clean,” but at least the place looks more comfortable, and it takes pressure off the staff.  In department stores, try to fold clothes and put them back the way you found it or better.  While you are at it, fold a couple of extra.  Every little bit helps.  I remember working in department stores, and staying hours after the store closed to refold everything.  Help the workers to get home at a decent hour by cleaning up after yourselves and do a little bit more.  If everyone did this, we would have a much more pleasant shopping experience.
  13. Pray for Someone.  Sometimes, you see a situation you can’t help.  You can’t pay for the whole cart of the person who had their identity stolen, but you can pray for them.  If you see someone struggling, and you don’t know what to do, just pray.  The Lord knows what to do, and He can meet all of their needs.
  14. Pay for the Order Behind You in the Drive Through.  This is my first suggestion that costs you anything.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot.  It may just be someone’s morning coffee.  Whatever the case, they may pay it forward, and the kindness can last far beyond you.          
  15. Tip Big.  Be generous.  This could be the most expensive of my suggestions.  However, if you are planning to go to this kind of restaurant this week, budget for an extra large tip.  Most waiters and waitresses did not get a Christmas bonus.  You can make a big difference with a few extra dollars.
  16. Buy Frosty Key Tags and Pass them Out.  They only cost $1, folks, and 90% of that goes to charity.  Buy a few and give them to cashiers, people waiting patiently in line, and random people for the fun of it.  Make sure you explain that they get a free Frosty (with purchases) every time they show the key tag in 2016.   One key tag could mean 20 Frosty’s (or more).  That’s a lot of kindness.
  17. Pass Out Candy Canes.  Be sure to check with the parents.  In fact, I recommend asking parents how many children they have, and giving the candy canes directly to the parents.  One big dollar store box will make a lot of children smile.  Be sure to wish them a Merry Christmas!
  18. Donate a Gift.  Classic kindness.  You are buying gifts anyway.  Buy an extra one.  Donate it.  Nothing complicated there.
  19. Invite Someone to Your Church Festivities.  There are a lot of lonely people out there.  Their family is far away.  They don’t know many people in town.  They need some encouragement.  Invite them to your play, cantata, or candlelight service.  You never know how this simple kindness may impact someone forever.     
  20. Share What Christmas is Really About.  If you do nothing else on this list, do not neglect this last one.  Believe it or not, lots of people do not have a clue what Christmas is really about.  They know Jesus was a baby.  They know there was no room in the inn.  They know the angels sang.  That’s about it.  They don’t know why He came.  They don’t know who He came for.  You need to share with them the truth.

   Luke 19:10  For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

I hope I gave you some ideas that will help you to be kind to strangers in the coming week.  If you do any of these, be sure to comment below or on Facebook or Twitter so we can all be encouraged.  Do you have any other ideas for being kind to strangers?  Be sure to share those, too.

In the meantime, I will try to stay out of Walmart for the next few days, at least.

You can find this post at Fellowship Friday.  

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16 thoughts on “20 Ways to Be Kind to Strangers The Week Before Christmas

  • December 18, 2015 at 1:46 pm
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    Such a great practical list. I’ve been teaching my boys some of these lately. Kindness is so important!

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    • December 18, 2015 at 2:02 pm
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      It’s easy when you try. See. You have already been kind to me today 🙂 Thanks for stopping by the Fundamental Home!

      Reply
  • December 18, 2015 at 3:34 pm
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    So many of these things come naturally to people raised this way, but unfortunately many of these things are common kindnesses that are dying out.

    I thank you for reminding us.

    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!
    Laura Lane
    Harvest Lane Cottage

    Reply
    • December 18, 2015 at 6:36 pm
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      You know, I thought when I was writing the list that most of it sounded like things most parents teach their children. However, it is in short supply when I am in public, so I left it on the list. It is a shame that it has become that way, but I think with a little effort, we can get back on track 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, and Merry Christmas!

      Reply
  • December 18, 2015 at 9:01 pm
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    Love these 20 practical and thoughtful ideas. I hope to incorporate these into my daily life both now and beyond. It’s amazing what a little show of kindness can do for those you come in contact with each day. Thanks for sharing and may you and yours have a wonderful Christmas! God bless

    Reply
  • December 19, 2015 at 2:30 am
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    I like your 20 ways to be kind, true all year, but especially near Christmas. This is a good reminder to just smile and say Merry Christmas to anyone who is kind or waits on you or seems a bit frazzled…

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    • December 19, 2015 at 2:44 am
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      Thank you for taking the time to comment 🙂 You made my day a little nicer. Have a very merry Christmas!

      Reply
  • December 19, 2015 at 5:40 pm
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    Great ideas! I think it’s especially important to be as generous as you can (like you said, tipping generously, or donating gifts)- and letting your children see that in action too. Also, great reminder to invite people to church! It’s easy to sometimes think that people wouldn’t be interested in going, so why bother? But you never know!

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    • December 19, 2015 at 11:28 pm
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      You are SO right about letting our children see generosity in action. How will they learn if they don’t see us do it? I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. Have a very merry Christmas!

      Reply
  • December 21, 2015 at 11:48 am
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    It is so refreshing for you to be thinking of others at this busy time when everyone is thinking of themselves and their long to-do lists. I enjoyed your post.

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    • December 21, 2015 at 12:54 pm
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      I have to purpose to think of others. If not, it is very easy to slide into selfishness overload- especially this time of year. Thank you for stopping by for a visit. I hope you will come back soon!

      Reply
  • December 21, 2015 at 1:04 pm
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    Such great suggestions -we can get so busy we can forget about others in the process! Great reminders!
    Vickie
    Vickie’s Kitchen and Garden

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  • December 21, 2015 at 5:27 pm
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    Love the list. I try to do things that make a difference in someone else’s day because it is not that much work. I always smile and try to call workers by their names. People don’t expect kindness and it takes them off guard. It is quite nice to see someone genuinely smile back at you. Have a relaxed Christmas. Thank you for sharing at Sitting Among Friends. Hope to see you back Wednesday.

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    • December 21, 2015 at 7:05 pm
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      I think I am known for my smile. I am not much of a talker, once you get to know me, but I smile all the time. I just like to encourage people. Have a very Merry Christmas!

      Reply

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