We started a new tradition a few years ago and it began with “bags of joy”. A giant red bag of shelf stable supplies and essentials like rice, oil, spices, a sweet surprise and a handwritten note for someone that might be left out this Christmas. A cleaner, a refugee, a construction worker away from home, to remind them that they matter and that someone sees them and appreciates them.
Three years on, it’s morphed into a full blown Kindness Advent Calendar. 25 days of loving, 25 random acts of kindness, 25 ways to teach our little girl how to love. My favorite part as a mama is watching the way the receiver lights up, then watching the impact of it in Ella Grace’s eyes.
These are lessons I know that I will never be able to teach her with only words or by myself, they are lessons that she can only learn by feeling and doing. The joy of giving, the spark of kindness and how it affects an ocean. How she always always has a choice to be the good in the world that sometimes feels so hard, cruel and broken. Be the change, be the catalyst, be the light, little one.
Every day in December our readers on social media check in and see what crazy Ella Grace and mama have been up to, but most special of all is how many have started their own little kindness Advent tradition, too. This is what I hope Ella Grace will always remember and associate Christmas with: the gift of giving, the spread of cheer and goodwill and how her little bit could mean a lot to someone else.
How to get started
The first question I always get is also how do we start? It seems so overwhelming, what do we do, how do we do, is there a list?
The answer is, you just start. It doesn’t have to be fancy. There is no right or wrong. Part of the joy is just looking for places and people to be kind to. I usually have some sort of idea of the things we can do but it is not written in stone.
Last year, I used some old gift tags we had, wrote some suggestions on the back of it and taped it to a window in our dining room for Ella Grace to pick everyday. The year before, we just went with the flow. You could also write some suggestions on some popsicle sticks to pick from, a Kindness Advent bucket list would also be so fun!
The beautiful part about having no plan is also teaching ourselves and teeny tiny to look for places and ways that you can be kind to someone in your everyday life.
The key is just to enjoy it and to involve your little one and open up the conversation. Make space for them to participate and suggest ideas that they can show kindness as that will really help them understand what it means to be kind to others in small and big ways. Even if it’s as small and simple as “I help mama fold clothes” or bringing an extra snack for a friend. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, it doesn’t even really have to cost anything. Give as much as you want – the gift of time, the gift of service, the gift of thoughtfulness.
The idea isn’t that you have to be the best, the biggest, or the most. The idea is that one little small act of kindness really can change someone else’s world.
Sometimes, and most of the time, ours too.
Here are some ideas you can try:
- Help mama and daddy put up the Christmas tree together, celebrate by making hot chocolate from scratch and enjoying the lights!
- Have a Christmas party for friends in your tribe that might not have family in town
- Bring a little care gift for a new mama
- Share a family Christmas Eve tradition and invite a neighbour – ours is making bread pudding and mulled cider from scratch
- Build gingerbread houses to decorate together and invite a friend
- Appreciate someone working hard – janitor, store assistant, kakak, grocery bagger
- Invite a friend to Ritz Carlton’s annual teddy bear tea
- Invite grandparents to a date
- Pick some flowers from the garden and surprise someone with a bouquet
- Drop off Happy Go KL’s Snakes & Ladder games at a children’s hospital
- Marie Kondo the closets and playrooms to donate to a local shelter or charity
- Invite a friend on a Christmas adventure to Legoland
- Write a nice note to someone and surprise them with a little treat
- Send a care package to spending Christmas away from home
- Pay for a meal/drink/groceries/gas/parking for the next person in line
- Make a bag of joy for someone in need
- Invite a few friends over for a playdate and kindness toy/book exchange
- Spend the day learning to see the good in people and give out compliments
- Host a cookie exchange and make a few extra bags to surprise someone that might need some Christmas cheer
- Bring a service person (police/fireman/paramedic/etc) some coffee and joy
- Share the Christmas spirit and go caroling
- Leave candy canes in your friend’s cubbies
- Hide kind notes in random places
- Invite someone to Christmas service or celebration with you
- Drop off diapers and baby supplies to Rumah Kita or another charity.
- Gingerbread cookies are a must in December: get ready-made frozen dough from Ikea
- Go out for a giant croissant or chocolate chip cooke at Eat X Dignity Café and stop to talk to the waiters who are from all over the world.
Racheal Kwacz is a Child and Family Development Specialist and has helped hundreds of parents and teachers around the world raise kind, confident, compassionate, respectful little ones using the Racheal Method. She developed it while working and living in the US and now shares her knowledge at parenting workshops and corporate engagements. She is a mom to a joyful, curious and fiercely independent 3-year-old foodie and poster child for respectful parenting. To learn more, connect with her on her website or follow her on Facebook and Instagram!