As holiday gift-giving approaches, we hope you’ll join us in giving the gift of happiness. A gift of one’s own time, talent or regard, a gift from the heart (instead of the pocketbook), or a gift that gives back creates lasting happiness for both you and your loved ones. To get started, the Live Happy team shares this—our list of 25 gifts of happiness:
1. Give your family the gift of a best friend–with four paws. (Happiness truly can be a warm puppy or kitten.)
2. Give the gift of charity to your children. Ask them to choose toys and clothing that they’ve outgrown and give them to a children’s charity, explaining that they have so much and others don’t have enough.
3. Invite a friend, neighbor or coworker who would be spending a holiday alone to your holiday dinner.
4. Gift from your garden or the local fresh market. Making jam from the season’s produce is its own reward; giving it to others doubles the bounty.
5. Pay someone a compliment.
6. Use your talents to do or make something special: Teach a friend yoga, a grandma how to tweet. Make a one-of-a-kind book of photos for your son, a collage of a friend’s selfies.
7. Give a coupon book of favors that you’ll deliver during the year. For a husband, a car wash, his favorite pie and an evening with his buddies. For a friend, time with you, running Saturday errands and a latte at the office.
8. Just be there. Make the effort to visit relatives, especially your grandparents. All they need is you!
9. Give together-gifts. Meals you’ll cook together, sunrises you’ll get up to see together, books you’ll read before bedtime together.
10. Give the gift of talent. If you can sew—offer to sew on buttons, make new pillow covers. If you can paint—offer to paint a room for a friend. If you know IT, clean up your friend’s computer.
11. Be an angel investor. Help fund a small loan for someone who is building or growing a business—it will improve lives. Kiva is a micro-finance website where your contribution gives again and again. Once a loan is repaid, your dollars can be lent again.
12. Give an experience off someone’s bucket list. You’ve always wanted to skydive, right?
13. Give an experience for the future. Planning a trip together, whether it’s to the café round the corner or a more ambitious weekend in the mountains, means you’re giving your time and attention.
14. Plan an unplugged weekend. No cells, no TV, no computer. Just each other.
15. Give an experience in the moment. Call faraway friends with a surprise serenade of holiday carols.
16. Connect the dots. For example, give a friend a lasting memory of her beloved mother or father. If the mother loved flowers, give a gift of flowers to your friend.
17. Write an accomplishment list for your spouse (or child!). Read it to him or her. There’s nothing like knowing your special someone knows just how special you are!
18. For yourself: Pay attention to the moments that bring you the most joy for a week. As they happen, write them down. Commit to having more of those kinds of times in days ahead.
19. Be a workout buddy. Sign up for an exercise class together and hold each other accountable to attend. Support someone who has a hard time getting active. Be ready with a quick SOS pep talk.
20. Adopt a relative at a VA hospital or retirement home for the holidays.
21. Leave hugs. Before you say goodbye to family and friends, give big hugs. Everyone needs to stock up on hugs!
22. Start the day with a positive thought—pass it along.
23. Bring the show. Homegrown entertainment is appreciated by all. Encourage your kids to sing, play instruments, or put on a play at family and friends’ gatherings. No doubt others will join in.
24. See someone who needs help? Be the one to offer it.
25. Look within yourself for happiness. It’s there waiting to be discovered!