More than just gifts, songs and celebrations, the holidays are a time of goodwill and giving back. Most importantly, they’re a chance to lend a helping hand, spread kindness and uplift your community — all in one fell swoop.

In a world where stress and negativity can sometimes overwhelm us, it’s vital we take some time to make a positive impact on others. So, this year, let’s make it our mission to uplift our communities. To help you get into the holiday spirit, here are 15 random acts of kindness you can share in 2023.

1. Donate to a food bank 

It’s not always easy to put food on the table. In fact, many families struggle. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 10.2% of households were food insecure in 2021 — roughly 13.5 million people.

Consider donating non-perishable items to your local food bank. Or, if you can, think about making a monetary donation to help fight hunger and erase food insecurity. 

2. Pay for someone's order

Next time you’re in a drive-thru or in line at a coffee shop, take the opportunity to spread a little holiday cheer. How? By surprising the person behind you and paying for their order. It’s a simple, small gesture with a mighty impact. Not only could it brighten their day, but it may even inspire a chain reaction of repeat kindness.

3. Send a handwritten letter 

Text messages and emails may be fast and easy, but they lack a personal touch. But receiving a handwritten letter in the mail? That’s priceless.

Take the time to write out a thoughtful message to a friend or family member. You’ll be surprised how much they appreciate the effort put into it — and who knows? They just might write you back!

4. Volunteer your time 

Sometimes the most valuable present of all is the gift of time. Your presence, whether it be with loved ones or someone in need, can go a long way toward making a tangible impact on someone’s life. Consider volunteering a few hours of your time to a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. 

5. Shovel snow for a neighbor 

You may not realize it, but even the smallest favors could make a big difference. Shoveling snow, for instance, is an important household chore in the winter months, but not necessarily an easy one for elderly or disabled people. Taking that burden off their shoulders is a good deed they’re sure to appreciate. 

6. Shop at local businesses

It’s important to support small businesses, especially now that over half of consumer shopping budgets are spent online. Being the season of giving, the holidays are essential to independent stores' overall financial well-being. Choosing to shop local can help small businesses survive well into the future.

7. Participate in a toy or clothing drive 

Not every child is fortunate enough to receive presents during the holiday season. And, by the same token, many people go cold during the winter chill. Fortunately, you can lend a helping hand by donating gently used toys and clothes to organizations that support these worthy causes. 

8. Make care packages for your loved ones 

Let your loved ones know you’re thinking of them by creating thoughtful care packages. You can fill them with their favorite goodies, snacks and sweets for a nice, personalized touch.

9. Tape spare change to a vending machine 

Imagine the disappointment you’d feel if you went to grab a snack from the vending machine only to find yourself a few nickels short of your favorite go-to treat. It’s a small problem, but it’s enough to ruin your day (at least until the next meal).

Luckily, you have the power to make sure that doesn’t happen. Taping change to the machine may not satisfy your hunger, but it’ll certainly bring a smile to a stranger’s face in their time of need. 

10. Hand out compliment cards 

Compliments are a great way to spread the holiday cheer, even to people you don’t know. Write down heartfelt affirmations on a notecard, then hand them out to friends, coworkers and strangers you encounter. A few words here and there could really uplift someone’s spirits.

11. Pick up litter alongside your street 

Did you know there are nearly 50 billion pieces of litter on U.S. roadways and waterways? Unfortunately, it’s true — but, the good news is you can do something about it. Join the effort by walking your neighborhood streets and picking up litter as you go. 

12. Let someone cut you in line

The holidays are a busy time of year, especially when you’re out shopping. Next time you’re in a store, practice patience and courtesy by allowing someone to cut ahead of you in line, especially if they have fewer items than you. Although it’s a small gesture, you never know what it might mean to someone else.

13. Go caroling with your neighbors

Caroling is a staple holiday pastime. Not only is it a fun and happy experience, but it’s also a chance to spread joy across your community. So, gather up your family, friends and neighbors to sing a few happy songs for those who could use it, such as people in nursing homes or hospitals. 

14. Bake cookies for coworkers

Help your colleagues get in on the holiday spirit by baking them a tray of festive treats. Chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, sugar cookies — whatever the choice, they’re sure to appreciate the effort. Plus, sweets are a great way to make your workplace a warmer and friendlier environment. 

15. Donate to charity 

Lastly, consider making a charitable donation to a good cause. Do your due diligence and research a charity close to your heart. Your contribution, no matter how big or small, will make a world of difference during the holiday season. And, as an added bonus, it’ll definitely keep your name off the naughty list. 


This content is for informational purposes only. It is not designed or intended to provide financial, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice since such advice always requires consideration of individual circumstances. Please consult with the professionals of your choice to discuss your situation.

M&T Money Mentor content is provided by EVERFI, Inc, for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be an offer or solicitation for a product or service and is not an offer to extend credit. The information provided is also not intended to provide investment, tax or legal advice and may contain information on products or services not available at M&T Bank and may describe practices or policies not available or applicable to M&T products. All examples are for illustrative purposes only.