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31 Ways To Spread Holiday Cheer

Let’s end 2020 on a high note, shall we? We’ve got 31 things—that’s right, one for each day of December—to help spread some much-needed holiday cheer. Read, do, repeat!

1) Bake cookies (for 5 simple and scrumptious recipes, turn to page 78) and gift them to family, friends, or neighbors. If you’re not adept at baking, send them a cookie-decorating kit from Frank Vilt’s Cakes (, instead.

Bake some holiday cookies; photo by Dante Fontana


2) Carry spare change when you go out in case you bump into the Salvation Army or someone down on their luck.

3) Corral a bunch of your friends and family and go caroling in your neighborhood. We could all use a song or two.

4) Decorate the inside and outside of your home. Check out this month’s holiday gift guide (page 51) for some décor ideas. And while you’re at it, how about turning your car into a red-nosed reindeer this year?

A little decoration can go a long ways.


5) Channel Santa and donate to a toy drive. The Folsom Toy Drive is accepting donations until December 4 (; alternatively, bring a new, unwrapped toy to Placer Wine Trail’s Holidays in the Hills event on December 5 and 6 (—where, in addition to benefitting Toys for Tots, you’ll receive discounts on wine, including 10% off your first bottle at each winery.

6) Volunteer at a homeless shelter during the coldest and possibly most difficult time of year to be without a home. Hart of Folsom ( assists the homeless during winter months, as does The Gathering Inn ( in Roseville, and Only Kindness ( in Placerville.

7) Show some appreciation for your delivery person, teacher, mail carrier, garbage collector, gardener, or house cleaner with gift cards to local restaurants, stationery, hand sanitizer, warm gloves, holiday sweets, etc.

Show some appreciation to your servers; photo by Heirloom Photography by Anne Doupnik


8) Donate to a food bank. We’ve profiled many great organizations in STYLE. Check out for more on what they do. A simple Google search in your area should also point you in the right direction.

9) Greet or compliment a stranger. A simple “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” could make someone’s day. As could: “I love your face mask!”

10) Phone your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or long-lost friends that you haven’t spoken to in a while. And no, texting doesn’t count.

11) Alternatively, you could snail mail them holiday cards (with a personal note) or handwritten letters. Once you’ve done that, venture out and sign up for a pen pal at PenPal World ( or Snail Mail Penpals (

12) Perform random acts of kindness: put away someone’s shopping cart, hold the door for someone, pay for the person behind you at the coffee shop…if the opportunity presents itself, make the most of it.

13) Tip generously.

You can save lives this holiday!


14) Donate blood. One pint of blood can save up to three lives. Look for your nearest Vitalant Blood Donation Center ( and make an appointment ASAP.

15) Send a care package to someone in the military. Pick up free military care package kits from the USPS. If you don’t know a service member, visit to find a name and overseas mailing address.

16) Send someone flowers. You could also pick up a potted plant and drop it off for someone special. Aside from the popular poinsettias, Christmas cactus, orchids, and even potted rosemary make great green holiday gifts.

Donate to animal shelters.


17) Donate money to a cause you haven’t thought of donating to before. Whether it’s history, nature, the arts, or a specific disease, someone can definitely use your donation, no matter the amount.

18) Donate to animal shelters. It can be old items like blankets and towels or tennis balls and other play things; or even pet food and cleaning supplies. Money helps, too!

19) Use your magic words: “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” “I’m sorry,” and “you’re welcome.” No matter how busy or stressed you are when you’re out and about, a little courtesy goes a long way.

20) Go plogging on your next walk, hike or run. Plogging is the Swedish trend that combines jogging with picking up litter along the way. Carry gloves and trash or poop bags.  

21) Offer to pick up groceries for a neighbor or friend. Whether it’s an elderly neighbor or a mom of four neck-deep in diapers, you could help check one thing off their list.

22) Put away the electronics for some quality time with the fam. Talk, play board games, go for a walk, watch a holiday movie sans cell phones, and make some merry memories.

Get out those ugly sweaters.


23) Dress up. Whether it’s a crazy Christmas sweater or a holiday headband, spread some cheer with your holiday gear.

24) Show first responders gratitude. Know a firefighter, nurse, or paramedic? Gift cards to one of our many local restaurants and coffee shops are a great way to say ‘thank you.’

25) Practice patience. Whether it’s to withstand a three-hour plane ride with a crying baby behind you, or wait behind someone with an overloaded cart at checkout, it doesn’t hurt to be patient. OK, it might hurt a little, but you can do it!  

26) Have a virtual Secret Santa with colleagues you haven’t seen in a while (hello, work-from-home) or extended family. Gather names and wish lists, pick a budget, draw names using an app like Elfster or Giftster and pick a date. Mail gifts out and open them over video chat.

27) Shop local. You’ll not only find some unique gifts but you’ll also contribute to the community and local economy. Don’t forget to leave positive reviews online!

28) Be nice online. Keep social media comments polite and friendly. And while you’re online, share anything that’s helpful or will put a smile on someone’s face.

29) Do drive-by greetings for Christmas, Hannukah, New Year’s, and everything in between. Keep chalk markers, poster boards, and sharpies at the ready.

30) Spread cheer not germs! Maintain good hygiene, get your flu shot, get tested for COVID-19 if you need to, eat healthy, and exercise (after you’ve inhaled all that holiday food).

31) Set New Year’s resolutions. Bonus points if they involve spreading cheer throughout 2021! 

BY Tara Mendanha
Bake photo by Dante Fontana. Decorate photo courtesy of Pottery World. Holidays in the Hills photo by Heirloom Photography by Anne Doupnik. Donate blood photo ©Phongsakorn - Donate to animal shelters photo ©Ekaterina - Dress up photo ©deagreez -