The holidays are an absolutely perfect time to spread kindness around to other people in your community and the world, but the holidays can also be a very expensive time of year.

You might be a college student who can barely afford her apartment, let alone presents for your family.

Maybe you have 6 kids and you’re trying to create a budget that gives all of them a really great Christmas.

Maybe you’re hosting Thanksgiving and spending the money for all that food is quickly draining your bank account.

There’s a LOT of money being spent between November and December, no one can deny that. But what’s still important is being kind, despite all that money spent elsewhere. Kind actions do NOT have to cost money – there are loads of free ways to spread kindness!

Instead of adding more to your already-stretched finances, I’m giving you totally free things you can do that help bring more light into the world around the holidays. These are so easy you’ll be doing them all within a couple weeks!

Go Christmas caroling

I feel like this has become something that’s done less and less each year. I used to go caroling with my church when I was a kid, and I remember having so much fun!

We all stuffed ourselves into a few cars, drove down the back roads (I grew up in a VERY small town) and pulled over each time we saw a house. We’d get out and sing a few songs for them and then kept going.

I think it’s a lost art that we should bring back! (If you still do Christmas caroling in your town, please let me know in the comments – maybe it’s just where I live that doesn’t do it anymore, haha!)

Your singing doesn’t have to be amazing. It’s really just the idea of knocking on someone’s door and sharing a piece of yourself and the Christmas spirit with them. That’s really powerful!

Who knows, maybe the door you knock on has someone behind it that’s completely alone for Christmas or just *needs* to hear the song you’re about to sing. You truly never know what kind of impact that one simple song could have on someone.

Free Ways to Spread Kindness During the Holidays

Give a portion of your Thanksgiving meal to someone

Oh my goodness, I LOVE this one!

I grew up in neighborhoods that had a lot of people that either lived alone, or lived far away from family. It wasn’t rare to catch someone spending their Thanksgiving alone.

If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving dinner (or you’re like me and you host Friendsgiving!), then you can probably give someone in need a portion of your meal.

Thanksgiving dinners are notorious for having a buttload of leftovers. Take some of those leftovers to give them to someone who seems like they’re spending Thanksgiving alone.

Maybe their family lives too far away for them to visit this year. Maybe they don’t have much family left at all. There are a number of possible reasons.

But if you give them a meal that you’ve already made, you’re saying, “Hey, here’s a small way that I’m letting you know you’re not alone during the holiday, and you get to have some delicious food in the process.”

You could take it to the next level and actually invite them over to your house for your dinner. This is entirely up to you, but that could be really, really special for them.

Pro tip: you don’t have to give them this meal ON Thanksgiving in order for it to mean something. People have dinners throughout the entire month of November for lots of reasons; the date doesn’t matter! It’s the action that counts.

Donate clothes you no longer wear to a homeless shelter

When was the last time you ACTUALLY went through your closet?

I can tell you for me (at the time of writing this,) it’s been at least 6 months. Truthfully….I haven’t bought new clothes in 3 years BUT, I it’s been 6 months since I’ve purged my closet.

Overall, we as a society can get very attached to our clothes. And I get it! I’m a bit of a hoarder and I like to keep things I have an even remotely tiny connection to, and that includes my clothes.

I still have a dress my great grandma gave me when I was like 6 because *she* gave it to me. (I’m 21 now, just so we’re all clear on how minorly insane that is.)

BUT. I also know that there are a lot of clothes in your closet that you probably don’t wear. Your style changed over the years, you built a collection of band tees from 2007 you no longer need, you went through a sweater-loving phase once and now you live in Arizona….there’s a load of different reasons.

I recommend you take an hour out of your day and purge your closet. Trust me, you don’t need 7,000 articles of clothing in there. You’re not Paris Hilton. (Unless you are, then, hi, Paris. That’s cool you’re reading this. I’m only freaking out a little bit.)

Take all the clothes you realize you don’t need or want and donate them to a homeless shelter. You could donate them to a thrift store if you want to, but sometimes even the homeless don’t have $1.50 to spend on some clothes there.

You can donate them to a homeless shelter and they could probably be on the back of someone who needs them by the end of the night! That’s really powerful. You never know what that act of kindness could mean.

Shovel snow for your neighbor

I feel like this one doesn’t need that much explanation…


And if you don’t, then I’m convinced you’re not a human being and I really could have used your help when I was 16 shoveling my parents’ never-ending driveway at 6 in the morning before school. Thanks.

I think anyone out there in the world would be eternally grateful if you shoveled their snow.

And #freeworkout so really it’s a win-win, and I am ALL ABOUT the win-wins.

Related: 50 Random Acts of Kindness

Create handmade cards and give them to strangers

This number five of the free ways to spread kindness just makes my freaking heart melt, I could die happy right now, lol.

I think everyone loves a good handmade card! There’s something so special about them because you went out of your way to take 10 extra minutes of your time (or 30 if you’re like me and you’re #supercrafty) and actually make it yourself.

I’m sure you have some paper sitting around your house. It could be colorful construction paper or just some plain printer paper! If you don’t have either, notebook paper works too! Literally everyone has extra paper.

Grab a sheet of that and hand write a nice Chirstmas-y note! It doesn’t have to be super long or intense since you’d be giving it to strangers. Here’s an example of what you could write:

“Hey there! Merry Christmas! I know I’m just a stranger on the street, but I think it’s important to spread Christmas cheer and be kind to other people, even if I don’t know them personally. It’s my hope that you’ll take the Christmas Spirit in this card and pass it along to someone else. Happy Holidays!”

So stinkin’ easy, right?!

You could even get really cute and draw one of those second-grader level Christmas trees on the front. People LIVE for that kind of stuff, lol.

Again: you never know what someone may be going through. That Christmas card from a random stranger could be the only card they get the entire holiday. They might hang it up on their fridge when they’re feeling down. They might remember that act of kindness from you for the rest of their life. You truly never know!

Give a gift that’s handmade

This is pretty similar to the previous one. There are a TTTOOOOONNNNNN of handmade gift ideas!

There’s just something special about giving a gift that was made by your own hands, and people recognize that.

This is probably one that you wouldn’t give to strangers at all, but this can still be really awesome for the person who opens it up on Christmas morning and sees that there was so much heart and kindness put into it.

For handmade gift ideas, check this out.

One year, I made my boyfriend a “Jar of Love” filled with little mementos, thoughts, and memories of our whole relationship. Once a day, he can take something out to remind him of our love (we’re so cheesy, it’s okay I already know, haha!)

He still opens them up today (he doesn’t do it every day) and it’s such a special, long-term handmade gift!

Volunteer somewhere

I originally had that titled, “Volunteer at a homeless shelter” until I rethought that and came to the conclusion that volunteering of any type is really kind.

You can volunteer with a charity that means a lot to you, at an animal shelter because your love of animals is bigger than life itself, or at a homeless shelter because you really want to help those people through the tough season!

There are a TON of places where you can volunteer. Do a simple Goggle search: “your town + volunteering” and I’m sure you’ll find some great options!

The holidays can really be a tough time for a ton of different shelters and volunteer-needed locations, so getting your help will be very beneficial and is one of the most awesome free ways to spread kindness to those in need!

Something I want to remind you, though, is that you don’t need to ONLY volunteer during the holiday season. I know that there are plenty of places that need volunteers all the round, AND you get to spread kindness for more than just 2 months out of the year!

Spend time with the elderly at a nursing home

This last option really hits home for me. And I do NOT think people do this nearly enough.

I have been to nursing homes, both during the holiday season and not. I’ve only had one distant relative in a nursing home, personally, but I’ve been to them multiple times.

I can say this for sure: nursing homes are one of the saddest places in the entire world. They break my heart. They make me physically ill because of the emotional pain I can pick up while I’m there.

Sometimes I just want to cry when I’m wandering their halls because it’s like sadness, loneliness and despair seep out of the cracks in the walls.

When I was a freshman in high school, my tiny little high school band (literally, like 15 of us) went to a local nursing home to play some Christmas music for them.

None of us had a personal connection to any of the residents there, but it didn’t matter. One of the only things I remember from that entire event was the smiles on the faces of the elderly as they watched us set up and play for them.

Looking back, it’s possible that some of those residents hadn’t had visitors in MONTHS. But we showed up and we played music for them. Half the songs we played were pieces of music we were reading for the very first time. It really wasn’t that good, lol.

But it didn’t matter! They loved it anyway because SOMEONE came to see them and bring Christmas joy along with them.

I didn’t have a chance to speak with any of them personally, but I wish I had.

I cannot BEGIN to explain to you how important it is and how much of an impact going to a nursing home could have.

The elderly that are left alone without people to come in and keep them company are some of the saddest people I know to exist, and you coming in to say Merry Christmas to them could be the one thing that makes the end of their life just a little bit better.

That’s really powerful. Your simple act of kindness in that way could make a massive difference. I hope you don’t discount that.

I hope you try these free ways to spread kindness this holiday season!

The holidays can be a very hard time for a LOT of people. Spreading kindness during this time of year can have an impact greater than you can possibly imagine.

Be an active member in the spreading of that kindness and together, we truly can change the world.

By the way – if you like this, I share even more goodness in my weekly emails, The Kindness Notes. Check them out here.