June 18, 2024

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25 Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar

25 Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar

As a parent, I am acutely aware of the need to raise my son to be a kind person who helps others. I don’t know if it seems even more necessary because the sad state of the world these days or if this is just a typical parenting instinct at any time. Either way, I am always looking for opportunities to instill the values of kindness and generosity in my son, and one of my favorite ways is creating a Kindness Advent Calendar with “25 acts of kindness” to do with my son every day in the month leading up to Christmas. 

We did the Kindness Advent Calendar for the first time last year when my son was four years old. It is a great way to embrace the giving spirit of the holidays and a meaningful holiday activity to share as a family. I can’t remember where I came across the idea originally, but a quick internet search for “Kindness Advent Calendar” will bring up plenty of information about the tradition and ideas on how to create your own, including printable calendars with pre-selected acts of kindness that make it quick and easy to get started. I like making our own because it seems important to choose acts of kindness that make sense for our family. When my son gets a little older, I might even get him involved in choosing the specific acts of kindness that we will do together as a family.

Here’s how I did it… I started by brainstorming ideas and created a list of “acts of kindness” that were age appropriate and that I thought would encourage my son to think of others. This included everything from small acts like “cleaning up a mess” or “saying hello to someone in a store” to larger acts like donating clothes, toys, and books to the needy. (For an older kid, I would also include volunteering; check out our recent post all about volunteering opportunities during the holidays for ideas.) Once I had a list of 25 acts of kindness (there can be repeats), I put them in an order that made sense – spreading out bigger acts of kindness and creating a balance of different kinds of activities each week. I also included “choose your own act of kindness” as an option, which was only somewhat successful last year, but I think could work better as he gets older. Finally, I entered all of these acts of kindness into a grid and printed them on cardstock, which I cut into small squares. (You could also just write them on small slips of paper – there is no need to make it fancy!)

There are many customizable advent calendars that would work for this (you can even make your own), but I just went to Target and bought one of those calendars with little pockets and slipped one act of kindness into each pocket. I also like the idea of putting them in bags or mini stockings which you can then clip to a string or garland. To make it more exciting for my four year-old, I also slipped in cards that were “coupons” for treats and other rewards every few days. This is totally optional – and perhaps unnecessary – but my son is young and I didn’t want him to feel that he was missing out on the real advent calendar experience. And doing good for others doesn’t mean that you can’t get treats too!

However you do it, I encourage creating a flexible calendar where you can make adjustments and rearrange the acts of kindness (and rewards if you are doing them) as you go along… since it’s nearly impossible to stick to plans with little kids. If your kid gets sick or your days get too busy and you don’t get to all of them, don’t stress…the idea is to create the tradition of doing good deeds and helping others during the holiday season (and hopefully all year round), and it really doesn’t matter if you don’t get to every single act of kindness on the calendar. So be flexible and don’t make it into another source of holiday stress. When we fell behind, sometimes we would group acts together on one day to catch up or skip that day and go straight to the next one. (On the other hand, if you have multiple kids or older kids and you want to turn it into a competition to see who can do the most acts of kindness in one month, that could be fun too!)

Again, I encourage you to come up with your own acts of kindness that work for your family…but if you are looking for ideas, you can find my list of 25 Acts of Kindness below. 

25 Acts of Kindness

  1. Call a Family Member to say hello
  2. Make holiday cards for Citymeals on Wheels
  3. Say hello and talk to someone who works in a store
  4. Make a holiday card for a family member
  5. Give clothes to the needy
  6. Give someone a compliment
  7. Donate books to the book drive at school
  8. Choose your own act of kindness
  9. Make a holiday card for a friend
  10. Clean up a mess
  11. Find, make, or think of a gift for someone
  12. Make a holiday card for a friend
  13. Hug or smile at someone other than mom & dad
  14. Choose your own act of kindness
  15. Donate a toy or book to the needy
  16. Give your dog a treat 
  17. Make holiday cards for your teachers
  18. Give food to the needy
  19. Make a card for a friend
  20. Choose your own act of kindness
  21. Deliver gifts or flowers to neighbors
  22. Deliver cookies to the fire station
  23. Make a holiday card for a family member
  24. Give someone a gift
  25. Make a holiday card for a friend

If you are looking for more ways to practice kindness and do good together as a family, I highly recommend checking out Doing Good Together. They provide families with tons of “big-hearted” projects and other resources to promote kindness and giving. They even have a #30Days of Kindness Challenge that you can do at any time of the year…because while it’s important to do good during the holidays, we need to think about encouraging these values all year to raise truly kind and caring children.

The Kindness Advent Calendar is a great way to start out your family’s holiday giving and good deeds. And once you start helping others and enjoying the feeling of happiness and well-being it adds to your lives (it’s scientifically proven to make us happier), you probably won’t want to stop. Stay tuned for another post in the next few months about how to volunteer and help others and keep the goodwill going after the holidays.

Margel Nusbaumer is a local writer and mom in Brooklyn.

 

Related posts:

Where to Volunteer for the Holidays (2019)