13 Ways to Spread Holiday Cheer Without Spending a Dime

Photo: zaimoko-woodpile

Photo: zaimoko-woodpile

I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s all of our adventures in November, but I’m simply not stressing about the holidays this year. We’re planning to exchange some gifts, go for a hike, and eat a delicious dinner, but mostly we’re aiming for a relaxing day.

Around now, I’m always thinking about where I want to put my attention in the new year, and this year I am zeroing in on our finances and paying off debt. So a simple Christmas is exactly what we need. But we’ll be on the look out for ways to spread holiday cheer all week. If you’re in the same camp, here are 13 ideas for spreading joy without opening your wallet:

1. Leave a note on your mail box thanking your mail carrier for all of the hard work they do over the holiday season.

2. Send an email to old and new friends, catching them up on what you’ve been up to, and thanking them for being part of your lives.

3. Donate some of your extra clothes, books, and/or canned food to a homeless shelter or group home.

4. Give your friends, kids, or your partner the gift of your undivided attention for a few hours. Make a point to really listen.

5. Go caroling.

6. Invite some friends over for dinner or dessert.

7. Write to a few of your coworkers or colleagues and thank them for their hard work.

8. Smile and say hello to everyone you pass.

9. Visit someone in a nursing home.

10. Make a Skype date with a faraway friend or family member.

11. Make paper snowflakes to hang in your windows.

12. Leave a greeting on one of your favorite blogs. (We bloggers love connecting with readers.)

13. Take some time out alone to do something you love doing this time of the year, whether it’s going for a long walk, drinking eggnog, or reading a novel.

Wishing you a very merry Christmas this Wednesday if you celebrate! I’ll be back here on Friday with Hopeful Weekend Links.

What are your favorite ways to spread joy without parting with your cash? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.


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About Abby Quillen

Abby Quillen writes fiction and magazine articles. Her articles and essays have appeared in YES! Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, Colorado Central Magazine, and on Common Dreams, Nation of Change, Reader Supported News, The Daily Good, Truthout, and Shareable.net. You can find more of her writing at http://abbyquillen.com.


  1. Great list …thanks for putting it out there 🙂

  2. Abby, thanks so much. I saw my mail carrier hiking packages uphill in the snow two weeks ago . . . he definitely deserves a note of gratitude. Also, Maia and I baked gingerbread and brought some to our elderly neighbor with whom we share a cat. She invited us in and we had a lovely hour-long talk . . . more valuable to us than any expensive gift!

    • Hi Melissa! Our mail carrier was an inspiration during the snow too. That’s what made me think of it. Also, awhile ago, one of our carriers showed me a sweet thank you letter he received from a seven-year-old in our neighborhood, and it so clearly made his day. I love that you share a cat with one of your neighbors.

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