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Ten Easy Ways to Pay It Forward

It’s the holiday season and I’ve been in a giving mood lately. Sometimes we easily forget how blessed we really are. I’ve been trying extra hard this holiday season to remember my blessings everyday and then carry that through the entire year. I’ve also been trying really hard to do nice things for others: strangers, friends, family…anyone I can. I’ll admit that sometimes it’s hard to figure out easy ways to pay it forward. We are all so busy and we need easy things to do that may not take much time. The easier they are, the more likely others are to do them. 🙂 

Easy ways to pay it forward

Here’s a list of ten easy ways to pay it forward: 

  1. Pay for the person behind you at the drive-thru. If you are scared at how much their total might be, just put $5 towards it, give $2-3 to cover their coffee, etc. You don’t have to pay their entire total to do something nice. 😉 
  2. Send a card in the mail – Getting mail other than bills is nice. I remember back in my childhood days I had a few friends I wrote letters back and forth with and I loved getting mail. As adults we don’t get that warm feeling much of getting a card or a thoughtful note in the mail. Send a brief note or card to an elderly person, a family member, or even a co-worker. 
  3. If you know someone who’s recently welcomed a baby, experienced a death in the family, or gone through any type of change in life, get them a gift. You can leave it anonymously on their desk or doorstep and just smile when you think of the joy it’s going to bring them! It doesn’t have to be expensive, you can spend $5-10 and get a small gift card, a bear or outfit for baby, or a pie for a family. Share dinner with a neighbor
  4. Share dinner – if you know of a single person in your neighborhood, chances are they don’t cook full meals often as “it’s too much for just one person”. And, chances are you cook for your family and you have left overs. See where I’m going? 😉 Take a plate to a neighbor and put a smile on their face and let them enjoy a home cooked meal! 
  5. Help around the house – Help a friend with yard work, shoveling snow, or even cleaning their house. It’s a small gesture that can mean a lot to some people. 
  6. Donate to a Homeless Shelter or Food Pantry – This time of year brings very cold weather here (I’m in Michigan) and I know how appreciated hats, gloves and scarves can be. I also know that you can get them for $15-30 for a set. That’s not a lot of money to some but can mean warmth to a person for an entire winter season. Food pantries are in need, too. Did you know that people who live in shelters or get help from food pantries rarely get to eat fresh fruit and veggies or even a glass of milk because those items aren’t donated often? They are easy for most people to get, think about buying extra the next time you are at the grocery store and donate it. Don’t have the extra money? Donate your time to help cook at a shelter or even go to a nursing home and just sit and talk to the residents. Oftentimes, they don’t have anyone to talk to and would love your visit. 
  7. Help a Teacher – My husband is a teacher so I know just how nice it can be when a teacher gets some help. Most teachers are dealing with 20-30 kids all day with no teacher’s aid. Donate 1-2 hours of your time to help in the classroom, to grade papers, to plan a holiday party, etc. It doesn’t take much but can mean the world to a teacher! 
  8. Babysit – If you know anyone with small children, offer to babysit for a few hours while mom and dad go on a date, while mom takes a much needed nap or even makes a trip to the grocery store alone. You have no idea just how helpful that can be! Or, if you are mom, offer to let dad go out with the guys for a few hours and bowl or watch a movie. We all need breaks sometimes! 🙂 Help someone at the grocery store
  9. Carry someone’s groceries to their car or return the cart for them. It’s the small things in life that mean a lot and to a mom with a child or to someone in a rush this can be incredibly helpful! 
  10. Pump gas for a stranger or wash their windows/clean off their headlights while they are pumping gas. Again, such a small thing that takes only a few minutes, but so helpful, too! 

Career help

And a bonus #11: 

If you have a career that is useful to others (ie accountant, tax prep, medical field, teacher, etc) help someone free of charge. Use your knowledge for the good! If you have a special trade/talent, it’s easy to use that to help/donate, too!


Be creative, share your time and put a smile on someone’s face! There are so many easy ways to pay it forward! What can you add to this list?


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  1. I love this list. It’s so easy to get caught up in the consumerism of the holidays, but I’d really like to teach my kids to pay it forward. (Especially this time of year!) We’ll be visiting a nursing home with my daughter’s preschool, and we’ve already picked out some small gifts to give to the residents. Hopefully we can do a few more things from your list too!

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