One of my favorite guilty pleasures is discovering new ways to brighten someone's day. I didn't grow up with lots of money, so I found creative ways to cheer someone up as I got older. I started doing small things for others that didn't involve cash or much of it, to show my thanks, appreciation and/or admiration for someone. If you're short on dough, but want to show someone you're thinking of them, a pricey gift isn't needed. Check out my 10 favorite ways to brighten someone's day to make them smile without hurting your wallet. Most of these actually mean more to the recipient than monetary gifts do because they come from the heart, not the wallet.
1. Leave a Note
One of the simplest ways to brighten someone's day comes in the form of a handwritten note. Taking the time to write and either mail or hand-deliver a hand-written note says you care. Emailing may be convenient, but handwritten notes are rare these days, making them seem like a special gesture.
2. Give Away Grub
Being a southerner, one of our favorite ways to show we care about someone is to deliver some of the goods from our garden, like tomatoes and cucumbers in the summer or fresh herbs in the winter. If you don't have a garden, then try baking a snack such as cookies, muffins, cakes or even smoothies with some ingredients you have on hand and hand-deliver the treat to the recipient. You could also try taking the recipient a meal if they are sick, dealing with medical issues, or simply having a hard time. Food is a form of intimacy and shows you put time and thought into the gesture. It is always a win-win for brightening someone's day.
3. Send a Card
Along with notes, cards are one of the best ways to brighten someone's day. Even if you don't mail it, you can leave it for them to find, and be sure to write it by hand. I find some of the prettiest cards in packs of 10-12 card per package at the Dollar Store for no more than a dollar or two. I buy some once every month or every two months, stock them away, and send them to someone special when I want to show them I care.
4. Run Errands for Them
Perhaps someone you know is sick or having car issues and they need some help with errands. Offer to run their errands for them. You could also offer to take them somewhere. I have often been helped in this way, and nothing could have made me smile bigger than someone taking time out of their day to help me with my daily needs.
5. Compliment Them
While you shouldn't make a fake compliment, take a moment to consider how you could genuinely compliment someone about either their outfit, appearance, hairstyle, make-up, shoes, hard work, recent accomplishments, etc. and tell them you admire them for it. Many times, we find we get so busy we don't take the time to tell people all the positive things we notice about them.
6. Invite Them for Dinner
Just as people love receiving food gifts, people also love being invited to dinner. Perhaps you're looking to show someone your appreciation, care or concern. Brighten their day by asking them over for dinner. It won't cost you as much if you use ingredients you have on hand and will let someone they are truly special by being invited to your home.
7. Give Them a Call
Even better than a hand-written note is a simple phone call. In today's high-tech society, we often overlook this simple pleasure. Most of us claim to be too busy to chat on the phone, but still find ourselves tied to our phones as if they were another limb. Use your phone time wisely and show someone you appreciate them or are thinking about them by giving them the pleasure of hearing your voice.
8. Do a Task or Chore for Them
Maybe you work with someone who hates a certain task and you would like to brighten this person's day. Do one of their most disliked tasks or chores for them. If you live with them, do their laundry, or make their bed. If you work with them, do something in the office you know they dislike doing to help them out. Just be careful not to invade personal territory when doing this, such as their emails, phone contacts, mail, etc. For example, recently an employee took one of my cleaning chores without me knowing it. I was so excited to find someone thought about me that much to do one of my most dreaded tasks.
9. Update Their Playlist
Giving others the gift of music is a timeless one. Though CDs are a thing of the past, you can still burn someone a CD of great songs that they would like and that would make them smile. Good ideas are workout songs, lighthearted music, or a collection from their favorite style or genre of music. You could also do this with MP3 files and a USB port. They could always burn the CD to their music player and download it however needed to their phone, iPod, etc. I have even given away iTunes cards I had on hand and didn't want or need. You can download many popular songs for free online as well.
I saved my personal favorite for last. If you don't have flowers lying around in your garden, as I know I don't, I have a knack for finding inexpensive flowers no more than a few dollars at many markets or stores. Flowers are a great way to show someone you care, and they don't have to be pricey roses. Pick out an inexpensive bouquet of flowers for them and make someone smile with an oldie, but classic way to brighten someone's day.
I've found these random acts of kindness to be some of the most rewarding and most effective in making someone smile. Have you ever brightened someone's day this way or been the recipient of such a deed? Share your experiences and good deeds.