Thoughtful ways to spread holiday cheer

This is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” according to the classic holiday song but it can also be the most difficult whether it’s because of stress, loss of a loved one, loneliness or so on. Luckily, there are many ways to spread love, generosity and the holiday spirit. Here are just a few things you can try this season.

— Bake batches of holiday cookies. They make great gifts to give to friends, family and coworkers.

— Pay for the coffee or meal for the person in-line behind you or take your parents or friends out to a nice dinner on you.

— Visit the animal shelter. You don’t need to adopt but take a dog for a walk or visit with a cat for awhile, or sign up to foster. Who knows! Maybe you’ll fall in love and an animal will find a new home.

— Donate toys and stuffed animals to a local charity or hospital.

— Call or visit a friend you haven’t seen in awhile. It may seem like people are more connected with social networking these days but nothing is more personal than a visit in-person or a direct phone call.

— Volunteer as a Bell Ringer for the Salvation Army or serve food at your local homeless shelter.

— Leave a nice tip for a restaurant server or baristas where you frequently visit. They work hard and rely on tips to make their money so why not do something nice for them.

— Sponsor a family who can’t afford to buy gifts this year by researching non-profit organizations near you.

— Organize a holiday potluck at work where people bring in festive food and dress in ugly sweaters.

— Decorate the exterior of your home, your desk at work or your locker at school with colorful lights, ornaments and garland. Sometimes just changing the environment visually can inspire cheerfulness.

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