31 Days of Random Acts of Kindness - 2014 Elf on the Shelf Edition

31 Days of Random Acts of Kindness - 2014 Elf on the Shelf Edition
Image from Pinterest with no attribution (If anyone knows the original source, please let me know and I'll cite it).

In December 2013, I hitched my wagon to my friend Stacy's incredible idea of 31 Days of Random Acts of Kindness and spent the entire month spreading joy throughout the land. Stacy even created a hashtag, #31RAOK, which was a blast to use and follow on Twitter and Facebook.

Last year was such a success that I've been planning 2014 edition of 31 Days of Random Acts of Kindness for weeks. If you read my post earlier today, Elf on the Shelf turns this hater into a believer, you know that my friend Kristi uses her Elf on the Shelf to teach her kids about being charitable and giving to others. When I heard Kristi's story yesterday, I knew it was the perfect introduction to this year's 31 Days of Random Acts of Kindness.

Some of the ideas below are great for kids and the whole family, while some may only apply to adults. Anything can be modified for kids though. There is not fixed order in which to do these activities; it's more important to do them than to do them on specific days.

If your Elf on the Shelf is giving these assignments to your kids, you might want to print out the daily Random Act of Kindness on a cute little card from your computer, so your kids don't recognize your handwriting.

  1. Thank the cleaning crew at your school, office, condo or apartment building, or other public place for their hard work.
  2. Give a homeless person a gift card to get a hot meal.
  3. Deliver a meal to a neighbor in need (elderly, sick, disabled, grieving, etc.).
  4. Send a service member an electronic greeting through the USO's Thanks From Everywhere program.
  5. Compliment a child in a non-stereotypical or gender-based way.
  6. Hold the door open for 5 people.
  7. Compliment a cashier or customer service rep on their service: Bonus RAOK: Seek out the manager and let him/her know about the employee's excellent performance.
  8. Be a Secret Santa to someone by giving them an anonymous small treat that is meaningful to them.
  9. Call a relative or friend you haven't spoken to recently and catch-up. If you get voice mail, leave a message, but keep going until you find someone to have an actual conversation with.
  10. Call your mother (or father) just to say "I love you."
  11. Call you mechanic, vet, hair stylist, manicurist, or other service provider you frequent throughout the year, BUT won't see before 2015 and thank them for keeping you looking good, etc. this year.
  12. Compliment a stranger.
  13. Fulfill a needy child's holiday wish.
  14. Find out what your food pantry is low on and deliver a supply of it to them.
  15. Shovel a neighbor's sidewalk and/or driveway. Do not accept any money for this.
  16. Scrape snow off someone's windshield at the train station, supermarket, office, or apartment complex while your car warms up.
  17. When you're running to the grocery store, call a neighbor and ask if they need bread or milk while you're there.
  18. Invite a coworker who normally dines alone to join you for lunch.
  19. Call a former boss or mentor and thank them for helping you get where you are today.
  20. Smile at everyone you see today, even if (especially if?) you're in a foul mood.
  21. Let someone go ahead of you in line.
  22. Leave a very generous tip (i.e., more than would normally be appropriate for the bill, but still respects your financial situation).
  23. Offer to help someone load their groceries into their car.
  24. Forgive someone.
  25. Spend 10 minutes beautifying your neighborhood (e.g., pick up trash, sweep leaves off the sidewalk, pick up animal excrement).
  26. Place uplifting post-it notes in random places (e.g., bathroom mirror, bathroom stall, computer, car windshield).
  27. Dedicate all your social media messages for 24 hours to nothing but positivity, inspiration, and gratitude. No snark, sarcasm, or complaining.
  28. Give blood.
  29. Give up your seat on public transportation.
  30. Give up your seat in a crowded waiting room.
  31. Bring donuts or another treat to your office.
  32. Drive kindly.
  33. Sign up to become an organ donor.
  34. Wipe down the gym equipment after you use it.
  35. Return a rogue shopping cart.
  36. Drive past the "rock star parking spot" and let someone else have it.
  37. Offer to mentor someone or help them with a project.
  38. Pay someone's parking meter so they don't get a parking ticket.
  39. Donate clothes, books, toys, etc. that you don't need and are in good condition to charity.
  40. Don't gossip or speak ill of others for 24 hours.
  41. Leave a nice smelling hand lotion in the ladies room at work for all to use.
  42. Leave coupons you don't need on top of their products at the store.
  43. Offer to give someone your cart as you leave the store.
  44. Let someone else purchase "the last item."
  45. Save your box tops and soup can labels and donate them to a school.
  46. Spend time with a senior citizen.
  47. Send a special treat to a random college student at your alma mater. Maybe one who lives in your old room or has your old mailing address. You may need to work with the Office of Residence Life to accomplish this and you'll need to do this soon so it arrives before they leave for winter break.
  48. Stand up for someone being bullied.
  49. If you work in sales or customer service and have the authority (DO NOT jeopardize your job), give a discount or rebate to a customer.
  50. Tape enough change to a vending machine to purchase the most expensive item in it.
  51. Say thank you to the crossing guard.
  52. Pass out candy canes and wish people "happy holidays."
  53. Make "free hug" coupons and pass them out to loved ones for redemption whenever they desire.
  54. Feed the birds.
  55. Take cookies to your local fire station or police station to say thank you for their service to the community.
  56. Write a thank you note.
  57. Do a chore for someone in your family.
  58. Call your local hospital and see if they need donations for kids in the hospital over the holidays. Donate books.
  59. Drop some change in a street performer's cup.
  60. Put a special love note in your child's lunch or spouse's work bag.
  61. Offer to watch someone's child(ren) so she/he can take a break.
  62. Make your spouse, roommate, or child breakfast in bed.
  63. Send copies of nice pictures to people who are in them.
  64. In a situation that might normally cause you to lose your temper, control it. Focus on breathing, counting to 10, walking away for a moment. Whatever it takes to not lose your temper.
  65. Play a board game or read a book to a child.
  66. Teach a child something you wish you'd known at their age.
  67. Donate coloring books, activity books, crayons, stickers, and/or stuffed animals to the police station to give to scared or abused children.
  68. Donate school supplies to a school.
  69. Go out of your way to make a new friend.
  70. Cover for a co-worker so she or he can leave early.
  71. Leave your newspaper for someone else to read.
  72. Buy Streetwise from every vendor you see in Chicago.
  73. Write a letter to your child from Santa, drop it in the mail (but not from your house if they'll see it), and see their excitement at receiving mail from Santa. Print out free Santa stationary here.
  74. Make and pass out Homeless Helper Bags.
  75. Recycle paper and plastic shopping bags.
  76. Shop only with your reusable bags.
  77. Fulfill a child's holiday wish by picking up a Dear Santa Letter from the Post Office.

Need more ideas? Check out The Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar. When you submit your email address, you'll receive 25 days of kindness ideas beginning December 1st.

Will you join me in 31 Days of Random Acts of Kindness? Share your acts on social media using the hashtag #31RAOK.

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