It's easy to get into the mode of "buy, buy, buy" this time of year—it's far and away the time when I spend the most money not only on the people I love, but also on myself, prepping for holiday parties, and taking advantage of sales. But it's important to remember that this time of year is about giving—not just giving presents—and often the actions that make the largest impact take the smallest effort.
After my grandmother told me a story two years ago about a couple who had anonymously paid for her lunch, I was inspired to do the same for others. If someone I know and love is going out for a celebration dinner, I've been known to call the restaurant and give them my credit card number to pay for the meal, without my friends or family knowing until the end. That way, they're free to order whatever they want, without worrying about taking advantage of my offer. Sometimes this requires being a super-sleuth (in paying for a dinner for Leslie and her boyfriend once, I had the hostess describe to me in great detail what every person in the restaurant looked like before I felt confident that she'd found the correct couple), but it's always worthwhile. Besides the charitable donations I make around the holidays, it's also nice to be reminded that sometimes it's smallest gestures that can make someone's day. Because I wanted to do more this season, without necessarily adding that much of a time or financial commitment, I compiled a list of several simple ways to pay it forward this season:
I'd love to hear some of your ideas. How are you planning on paying it forward this season?