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Hip2Save This Holiday: Simple Ways to Give Back & Pay It Forward on a Budget

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Spreading cheer and giving to those in need is a wonderful thing to do year round – not just at Thanksgiving or Christmas. However, the holiday season may be a perfect time for your family to start your own tradition of giving back, something that your family can do together that shows love, hope and joy to those who aren’t as fortunate. If you’re stumped on ways to give back on a budget or how to pay it forward, check out these awesome ideas sent in from readers Shannon & Jennilee below!

Hip2Save This Holiday Guest Post Submitted By Reader, Shannon…

Starting after Thanksgiving, we start creating and working down our list of “ways to pay it forward” during the holiday season and we check them off as we go. We like to do at least one good deed a week but often do them about every other day once the ball gets rolling. Sometimes we even repeat ideas! Ideas include:

*Leaving an encouraging anonymous holiday letter for a neighbor. For example, we once taped an envelope with enough money to buy a coffee and letter to our neighbors door that said, “Someone appreciates you. We hope that this allows you to start your day off right. Enjoy your morning coffee on us!”

*Sending a holiday card to our local police officers and fire fighters to thank them for their work. My son usually includes some art work.

*Tape money with a note to a vending machine or soda machine with enough money to purchase one item from the machine or a soda (notes we have left in the past have read, “Surprise! Our family believes Christmas is about giving. We hope you enjoy this simply act of kindness. Happy holidays!”)

*Tape a note and a candy cane or Ziploc baggie of homemade cookies to your mailbox thanking your postman.

*Take in carts that are left outside a store.

*Leave paper/plastic plates outside a neighbor’s door with a note that says, “Happy holidays! We know the holidays can be stressful. Please allow your dishes to be taken care of, on us!”

*Tape quarters to a gum or quarter machine at the mall or grocery store.

*Offer to ring the bell for the Salvation Army worker for a few minutes.

We love these ideas because they are not only quick, easy, and frugal but it helps put a smile not only on the face of others but our faces as well. It’s a great way to show our son that the holidays are a time of giving, not just receiving. Happy Holidays!

Hip2Save This Holiday Guest Post Submitted By Reader, Jennilee…

When thinking of creative ways to give back during the holidays summons ideas of caroling, delivering holiday cards to nursing or assisted living homes, donating coats and/or food; however one specific idea stands out. This winter when you are paying for your coffee, pay for the next person’s coffee as well. You can pay for the person behind you or give three to five dollars to the cashier for the next customer.

Personally, I consider it to be a more rewarding experience when you pay for someone’s meal and leave before they see you or thank you. Another way you could be creative by buying some hot soup (a meal in general) for a homeless individual you encounter. Having the opportunity to brighten someone’s day is enjoyable and rewarding. Regardless of the magnitude, a simple kind act can make a positive impact.

For more information on my new Hip2Save This Holiday series and to learn how you can participate in the fun, click here!

Join The Discussion

Comments 33

  1. Makayla

    These are great ideas! I do some of these acts throughout the year as well. It just makes me feel good inside and gives others a lift-me up (many times needed).

  2. Alea

    I always brings carts into the store or at least put a bunch in the cart corals outside!

  3. Julie

    This is really special and inspiring. Thanks for sharing! I’m off to make a list 😉

  4. Rachel

    Love it! What great ideas!

  5. Jackie

    This is awesome! Thanks for this post! What a fantastic example for my kids too! This is all stuff we can do as a family! Excited to create my own list and get to spreading the love!!

  6. Nikki Leadbetter

    Throughout the year, we gather cheap, good conditioned stuffed animals from yard sales and thrift stores. At Christmas time, we dress as Santa and Mrs. Claus (If you have children, they make great elves!) and we take these to a local nursing home/assisted living home. The response is remarkable and it feels great!

    • Ashley57

      When I was a little girl I lived in a trailer park. One Christmas someone dressed up as Santa Claus drove around our neighborhood and gave all the children stuffed animals. I will never forget it. The one my sister got became her favorite animal.

  7. roxy

    Lol, whenever I read about the mailman, I remember about mine, who throws garbage near my mailbox after delivering mail. Or cigarette butts. I definitely need to leave him a thank you note :))))

    • Carie

      OMG — I almost spit out my drink! Thanks for the laugh!

      • Rachel

        Maybe you could leave him a nice note for the mailman attached to a small garbage basket! Maybe then he’ll think twice about throwing trash your way! 🙂

        • Rachel

          Oops! Meant to say leave a nice note, not leave him a nice note

    • Melissa

      I feel for you! We not only get our packages completely destroyed (i.e. I recieved 8×10 photos today that clearly said photos do not bend and they were folded completely in half!) but now she feels the need to sit in my driveway at least twice a week talking on her cellphone, last week we had to go out and ask her to move on cause she had been sitting there for 20+ minutes making the dogs nuts!

  8. Kristina

    We always leave homemade treats out for our mail carrier, newspaper delivery person, and garbage pickup persons. On the hot, sweltering days of summer, my kids look forward to running Gatorades out to the garbagemen. Now that I’m a SAHM, I’ll have the kids run hot chocolate out on the snowy days as well!

  9. Lisa

    I have been the receipient of a Starbuck drive thru free coffe from the person in front of me before. It made me feel so good I did it for the person behind me.

    • Dina

      Love it!

    • vicki

      me too! i love it when that happens….it really pumps up the starbucks employees too. puts everyone in a good mood. 🙂

  10. holly

    I buy coffee or the person behind me at Dunkin Donuts all the time. It always makes MY day. I’ve also paid the toll for the car behind me on a toll road. Someone once did this for me at Burger King when I was in College (when I REALLY needed it!) and it moved me so much I try to do it when I can now, knowing how much it can change your day!

  11. Tonya

    I’ve been reading more about random acts of kindness in the news and on sites I follow lately. It’s so refreshing! I LOVE IT!!! =D Thank you for making my day just by posting this!

  12. Patti

    One idea I really like is having the kids hand out wrapped Christmas candy to other kids. We include a little note. It’s kinda fun!

  13. Sandy

    Our family would make up little treats to GIVE back when going trick or treating. And another way I personally like to give back is to wipe down the counter and sink at whatever restroom I use. Leaves a clean area for the next person and hopefully helps the cleaning person out.

  14. M

    This morning, while in the checkout line at the grocery store, I heard a senior in front of me tell the cashier that she forgot her $5 off $50 coupon at home. I handed the cashier my $5 off $50 coupon for her to use. Not only did it brighten the day of the senior, but also the cashier! The cashier said “you just made my day”!

  15. LAURA

    A couple of months ago, my daughter and I were paying at the drive-up window of a McDonald’s (while travelling on business). The McD’s employee at the window told us that the car in front of us also paid for our meal as well (we wondered why that car driver in front of us was waving big outside of their window as they drove away) We managed to wave back real big before they got too far away! . What a wonderful surprise and that there are people who can find such kindness in their heart. My 11-yr. old daughter was quite touched, as well, and still talks about this from time-to-time.

  16. liz

    I’m so proud of my 7 yr. old twins,after I told them our little church’s food pantry was in need of some food,they decided to ask for food donations at their birthday party in place of gifts.

  17. liz

    What’s really great is we just got an invitation from one of their classmates who attended my twins birthday party and she also asked in place of gifts for cat and dog food for a local shelterI think we started a chain reaction:)!!!

  18. Dee

    This type of kindness should really be practiced ALL year long, am I right? 🙂

    • Laura


  19. Cathy

    Cut out all coupons from your newspaper. When you see an item on sale with matching coupon making free/nearly free buy it. if it is something you usually use, then keep and use for your family. if it is something that you don’t usually use, then donate in by store front

  20. Kristi B

    I would love to see more pay it forward ideas. This is the best way to show that you are thankful for what you have. We have gone through some really rough times in our lives. I love the give back idea and would love to see more on this topic. Thanks for sharing it. It has inspired me today. Although my contributions may not be in big ways, my small contributions make can make big differences too.

  21. Cherie M.

    Collin – I especially like the comment about nursing/assisted livings. I have worked in therapeutic recreation for the past 5 years, often working on and around the holidays. It is sad to say that many families do not call – let alone visit the elderly on the holidays. It honestly breaks my heart. It can be something really small – a quick holiday note, or something more in depth – call and ask the recreation director if you can share a holiday story with the residents or go and make hot chocolate for them. Many times, if you want to come in, the rec therapists will have stuff on hand if you let them know before, so all you are giving is your time – and you will never know how valued it is by the residents. Because of Hip2Save I was able to give each of my 30 some odd residents a small gift last year – a pair of earrings from 1928 or a new polish, etc. They were thrilled. Sometimes its the littlest things that count…and places are always willing to have someone share a talent – singing, piano, etc!


    If you need ideas of random kindness friend the birthday project on Facebook, they give daily ideas for random acts of kindness.

  23. statenislandmom

    well while pumpkin picking, my hubby used the port-o-potty. He announced there was no toilet paper, so I left my package of tissues there, knowing it would help some in “need”.

  24. Sandy K.

    I am financially blessed. Not wealthy, by any means, but comfortable enough. Each year at the holidays, I like to take $100 and give 5 $20 gifts, usually in the form of a tip. The young man at the valet who brought me my car, the kid who delivered my chinese food…whoever strikes me as someone I want to gift. I remember the year I went into a small diner for breakfast and left the waitress a $20 tip. She literally came running out of the restaurant after me to say I left too much. I said to her I know what I left and that I wanted her to have it. She threw her arms around me, giving me a great big hug and said thank you over and over and over. That $20 meant a great deal to her and knowing I helped someone out was the most magnificiant feeling!

    • Heather

      That really touched me, and I am now going to do this with my kids this year. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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