160 Small Acts of Kindness #familyservicechallenge

By Melanie Christensen

When I think of service, I tend to think of things on a larger scale. For instance, my dad and sister traveled to the Dominican Republic to build a school, one of my Facebook friends loaded up a van full of goods to take to hurricane victims, and the mayor of my town donated a year’s salary to help fund the library.

While these grand acts of service are incredible, they aren’t the only way to serve. In fact, they may not even be the most important ways to serve. It’s easy to think about serving the world, but then in turn neglecting your own community. You CAN make a difference without giving lots of money or doing backbreaking labor in a place far from home.

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can change the world.” That’s a quote by Howard Zinn, an American historian, and I truly believe he’s right.

Here at Traveling With Monkeys, we are hosting the  #familyservicechallenge where we invite you and your family to perform one act of a service a day from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.  At first, it may seem overwhelming to perform an act of service as a family everyday.  But when we keep these acts small and intentional, we really can change the world.


So here’s a list of small, simple acts of kindness you can do almost any day to brighten someone’s life. You can do them with your family or do them on your own. If everyone did just one of these acts of service every day, the world would become a brighter place.

1 . Open the door for someone

2. Leave cookies for your mail person

3. Make a card for an elderly person in your neighborhood

4. Take someone’s garbage bins in or out for them

5. Shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk after a snow

6. Smile and say hello to someone who looks lonely

7. Rake a neighbor’s leaves

8. Put quarters in a vending machine to surprise the next person

9. Pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru

10. Leave a generous tip

11. Call an old friend

12. Invite the neighbors over for a meal

13. Make dinner for someone in need

14. Write a letter to a soldier

15. Watch your neighbor’s kids

16. Donate gently used items

17. Give a stranger a genuine compliment

18. Give someone a “heart attack” (pin hearts on their door with things you love about them)

19. Write sticky notes of encouragement to family members

20. Read to your kids or grandkids

Young girl with an older woman reading a handmade card.
3. Make a card for an elderly person in your neighborhood.

21. Bring cards or small toys to hospital patients

22. Deliver fresh flowers to friends who are having a hard time

23. Go caroling in your neighborhood or at a nursing home

24. Visit an animal shelter and care for the animals

25. Pick up litter at a park

26. Donate to a food pantry

27. Help serve food in a soup kitchen

28. Donate to a local charity

29. Do service by sharing one of your talents (Fixing things? Playing music? Baking?)

30. Help beautify a park or other community area

31. Play with a child

32. Help carry someone’s groceries

33. Use one of your talents to brighten someone’s day

34. Post something uplifting on social media

35. Send a loving text to someone who may need a pick-me-up

36. Get up early and make breakfast for your family

37. Volunteer to help clean your church or school

38. Keep an open-door policy for friends and neighbors

39. Take time for your kids and family members to show you care

40. Pray for someone

41. Help someone who’s having car trouble on the side of the road

42. Put your phone away when you’re with other people

43. Try to include those around you who may feel left out

44. Be a good sport and celebrate others’ achievements

45. Give to a clothing drive or hold your own

46. Let others borrow your belongings

47. Tell people you know are struggling financially about sales and good deals

48. Give your family’s hand-me-downs away to other kids

49. Give someone a hug

50. Make a video or music recording for a friend or relative who lives far away

51. Pay grandparents a surprise visit

52. Make a homemade gift for someone

53. Leave groceries on someone’s doorstep

54. Pick someone in your neighborhood who seems lonely and choose to be their friend

55. Slip $5 bills into coat pockets at a family party or at church

56. Pack lunches and deliver them to the homeless

57. Hand out socks to the homeless

58. Give someone a book to read that you think they might enjoy

59. Thank a teacher

60. Show up early to an event to help set up

61. Stay after an event to help clean up

62. Clean up for someone who usually cleans up for you

63. Buy donuts for your coworkers and let your kids take some for friends at lunch

64. Listen when random strangers start talking to you—they may need a friend

65. Tell someone who you follow on social media why you like following them

66. Have your kids draw pictures to give to the garbage man

67. Donate gently used books to the library

68. Collect coats and blankets to give to a local shelter

69. Help a family member with a long-time project they’ve been meaning to complete

70. Shop at a local farmer’s market to support your community

71. Walk someone’s dog for them

72. Take someone else’s kids to school

73. Organize a hike and clean up litter along the way

74. Be environmentally-conscious at home and try to save electricity and water

75. Help weed, till, or harvest someone else’s garden

76. Text your favorite scripture or quote to someone

77. Write encouraging messages with sidewalk chalk


78. Put pinwheels or holiday decorations in someone’s yard

79. Donate your hair to make wigs for those who’ve lost theirs due to cancer treatments

80. Hand out hot chocolate or cool drinks to people who are working outdoors

81. List items for free to those in need on Facebook Marketplace

82. Help someone who has difficulty moving and lifting to set up their holiday decorations

83. Share your garden’s produce

84. Pay the toll for the person behind you

85. Teach your children to have manners and sincerely thank other people for their services

86. Dedicate a birthday or holiday to charity, with donations instead of gifts

87. Mow someone’s lawn for free

88. Introduce yourself to new (or old) neighbors that you’ve never met

89. Offer to listen and give advice to a friend in need

90. Reach out to those who believe differently from you and become friends

91. Invite friends and neighbors to come to community or church events with you

92. Do a yard sale for charity

93. Wake up early and clean the whole house before your family wakes up

94. Volunteer at a community or charity event

95. Let the person behind you in line go in front of you

96. Say something kind to a mother who’s struggling with her children in public

97. If you get the newspaper delivered to you, read it and pass it along to a neighbor

98. Teach someone a skill you’re good at with no charge

99. Scrape other people’s car windows for them

100. Offer a ride to a friend who’s walking somewhere

101. Help a mother at church or in the store whose kids are being rowdy

102. Pull weeds on a family walk

103. Borrow a friend’s car and clean it for them

104. Organize a neighborhood potluck or party

105. Tell a stranger their children are beautiful

106. Tell a child they are amazing

107. Try to remember people’s names and use them

108. Call someone when you’re going to the store and ask if they’d like something

109. When someone cooks something you love, ask for the recipe

110. Invite a lonely person to your holiday dinner

111. Paint small rocks with inspirational messages and leave them places

112. Be a friendly driver and let others merge in front of you

113. Hold the elevator for others

114. If you see someone who looks lost, help him without being asked

115. Set up a lemonade stand and donate the profits

116. Give out high fives or stickers to random strangers

117. Leave a popcorn surprise on a DVD rental machine

118. Tape change to the parking meter or laundry machine

119. Tell the principal how great your teacher is

120. Send dessert to another family at a restaurant

121. Make a candy gram for a friend

122. Smile at everybody (It’s contagious)

123. Introduce friends to each other that you think would get along

124. Help someone move

125. Try not to tease or annoy the people you live with

126. Walk your cart back to the store

127. Try to find something good about someone you don’t like

128. Tell your boss how much you’ve liked working for them

129. Make someone a surprise cake for their birthday

130. Leave nice comments on blogs (Like this one!)

131. Stand up for someone who’s being bullied

132. Do that one task that no one else wants to do

133. Give up your seat to someone on the bus

134. Go to an event your friend/acquaintance/family member is part of

135. Try not to gossip, and say something nice about someone when you hear it

136. Spread the word about someone else’s business

137. Believe in other people’s ideas and encourage them to pursue their dreams

138. Pack extra snacks and give them to friends

139. Brag about your friends’ achievements to other people while they’re there

140. Give a compliment about your server to their manager

141. Treat a friend to the movies for no reason

142. Have a regular conversation with a homeless person

143. Leave a copy of a book on the bus with a note for the next person

144. Doorbell ditch treats to your neighbors

145. Send someone a handwritten letter

146. If it’s cold, park far away so someone can have your closer parking spot

147. When you’re buying Christmas gifts, buy local to support your community

148. Bring paper and crayons to share with other kids at the playground

149. Hold a car wash or “dog wash” and donate the money to charity

150. Give your family members shoulder massages

151. Write a poem for someone

62. Clean up for someone who usually cleans up for you
62. Clean up for someone who usually cleans up for you

152. Leave a friendly note or a dollar bill in a library book

153. Set up a projector and have a movie theater afternoon for your neighborhood

154. Learn first aid so you can help people who need it in the future

155. Build a “little free library” box in your yard and invite neighbors to share your books

156. Do family history work and share what you’ve learned with your family

157. Let one of your family members sleep in

158. Figure out when someone’s half birthday is and surprise them with a treat

159. Hide a few dollar bills around the dollar store

160. Pay other people’s past due library fees

I hope this gave you some ideas! If you are participating in the #familyservicechallenge, this list can help you get started.  What small acts of kindness have you done with your family?

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For more opportunities to serve, visit Justserve.com.

Melanie, Staff Writer photo.

Melanie Christensen, TWM Staff Writer and Social Media Manager.  

Melanie is a frequent Facebooker and passionate Pinner. She loves to share ideas on social media and study what makes them spread. Melanie has participated in social media efforts for several Utah-specific magazines and newspapers. She also enjoys writing, and she’s written content for The Herald Journal, Cache Valley Family Magazine, The Utah Statesman, Aggie Blueprint, and Cache Magazine. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Utah State University in 2016.  When she’s not writing or Pinteresting, she enjoys hiking, camping, backpacking, road tripping, playing board games, and eating food at new restaurants with her husband and baby girl.

160 Small Acts of Kindness Pin-able image.


  1. These are such good suggestions we tend to get stuck in the big gesture that not all of us are able to accomplish but any of us can accomplish one if the simplr everyday acts of kindness.

    1. Hi Denise: I love Melanie’s article on small acts of kindness. When we start thinking about service in terms of mindset and awareness, it becomes possible to perform these small acts everyday. Thanks for posting! – Tanya Collings, TWM Managing Editor

    1. Kate, so glad you enjoyed it! Your boys will be bigger and will be helping you make the world a better place if this before you know it! Thanks for reading! #familyservcechallenge

  2. I am always looking for more ideas like this. Thank you for the list! We just put together an advent calendar with acts of kindness on each day. The kids will open them from envelopes and boxes that we put on there tree in the playroom. One of the ideas was to Candy Cane attack a parking lot. I am really excited about that one!

  3. This is an awesome list! I loved the learning and using people’s names. We often say “I’m so bad with names,” really everyone is which is why it’s meaningful when you take the time and effort to learn them!

    1. Thank you Celene! That is so true, it is often the little things, like remembering and using people’s names, that mean the most. Time (even in the smallest of increments) and commitment are often the best gifts, and cost nothing. Thanks for reading!

  4. This list is AMAZING!!! So many easy ways to help out this holiday season or anytime of the year really! We will absolutely be doing some of these with our kids all year round!



    1. Thank you Helen, I know that Melanie, our writer for this article, put a lot of thought into this piece. I especially love that one too! So glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for reading!

  5. This is such an inspiring post and so many wonderful suggestions. I love the leave a friendly note or dollar bill in a library book. That would so make someone’s day!

  6. I’ve often had that same thought that because I couldn’t donate money or do as much as other people my service wasn’t as valuable. Thank you for bringing to light the many ways to serve.

    1. Erika, we believe it is the small and simple things when done sincerely, that make the most impact. Thanks for reading and more importantly thanks for serving others in your own way!

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