If there’s one thing I pride myself on, it’s thoughtfulness. I make it a point to make others feel seen and appreciated through small gestures and acts of kindness. And thankfully, it’s a trait shared by many of my pals who continue to amaze me by the ways they show up in my life to let me know I’m loved.
This topic came up over dinner the other night with my crew, and we all agreed that it’s often the small gestures that make the biggest impact. These are the kinds of things you can do on a whim throughout the day—picking up coffee for the person behind you or sending a thoughtful text to a friend just because. It’s the seemingly insignificant things that, when you really get down to it, make all the difference in someone’s day.
With that spirit in mind, I rounded up 19 small but meaningful acts of kindness so you can share this intention of compassion with the world around you. Let’s start creating some good.
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
19 Small and Impactful Acts of Kindness to Inspire
1. Send flowers for no reason. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful to give and receive flowers for big events and to celebrate life milestones. But sending a bouquet just because will be a welcome surprise for any recipient (and it feels so good to do!). I try to send flowers to a friend every month simply to say that I’m thinking of them and to share my love. It’s all about the element of surprise.
2. Offer to run errands for your friends. If someone in your life is having a busy week, offer to take one thing off their plate. As I type this while traveling, I’m thinking how amazing it would be to have someone pick up my dry cleaning. (Wink, wink.)
3. Send a gift to your friend or partner’s hotel room when they’re traveling. Whether it’s a small, thoughtful card or a bouquet of flowers, a small gift is unexpected yet appreciated. Are they traveling for business and have a big presentation ahead? Are they celebrating something special? It’s a sweet way to say that you’re thinking about them. Pro tip: Most hotels have a concierge that will be happy to help out.
4. Celebrate with champagne. If your friend is at dinner celebrating a big milestone, call the restaurant ahead of time to drop off a few glasses of champagne. We celebrated my parents’ 40th anniversary a few years ago at a restaurant and when we sat down, there was a bottle of champagne waiting for us courtesy of some dear friends who knew we had that dinner reservation. It was so special to receive.
5. Babysit for your friends. Give your parent pals a date night by offering to watch the kids. As much as I want time with my friends, many of them are so busy that it’s hard for them to get a date night in. Offer to watch their kids and let them spend the night together. As a bonus, you’ll get some special time with the kiddos.
6. Pay it forward. Parking tickets are the worst. Drop some change in someone’s expired parking meter. I’ll throw in a few dollars in a machine and hope the karma gods will look out for me when I’m in a similar situation.
7. Save someone a trip. If you’re headed to the store, check in with a nearby neighbor or friend to see if they need anything. I usually do this when I’m headed to someone’s house and need to make a quick pit stop. And I love when friends ask me because 9 times out of 10, I DO need something! It’s one of the small acts of kindness that ends up saving me so much time and energy.
8. Send a handwritten card. My home has limited artwork, save for several handwritten thank you cards floating on my shelves from friends. They bring me so much joy, not just because they’re filled with sweet words, but because so much work goes into getting the card, and taking the time to write and mail it. So much intentionality goes into a card that I’m determined to keep the art of snail mail alive.
9. Offer to take someone’s picture. A few years ago, my friend and I were at a winery and the couple next to us simply looked beautiful in how they were sitting and admiring one another with a gorgeous backdrop. We told them, asked if we could take their photo, and they LOVED it so much. It truly made their day to have someone capture the sweet moment. Obviously read the room and don’t be weird about it.
10. Venmo a friend for coffee. This literally takes 30 seconds and is such a kind way to say that you’re thinking about them or want to celebrate them. A friend recently sent me a Venmo to “grab a Negroni on them” after a big work week. While I wish I could’ve enjoyed said Negroni with them, it was so sweet to be thought of.
11. Text your friend/family member, etc. your favorite things about them. Instead of sending a generic “Happy Birthday” text or card to my loved ones, I’ve started texting or sending a card sharing five things I love about them. Who doesn’t love hearing how people view and celebrate them positively?
12. Pick up trash on the trail/outside. I was in LA last week and a man running ahead of me made a quick and sudden move and swerved to bend down and pick up trash on the beach. Seeing that inspired me to do the same later in the day.
13. Lend a hand when you see someone struggling. A memory that remains etched in my mind was from a recent trip to France. We were leaving the train station, hiking up a big flight of stairs and my friend Jen saw a woman struggling to carry her luggage. She swooped in immediately to help. It’s small acts of kindness like this that not only made me fall deeper in love with my pal, but have helped me spot those opportunities where I can offer a helping hand.
14. Ask how you can help. While we might not know it in the moment, hearing some ask “how can I support you right now?” can provide such a sense of relief. It’s a simple question but one that allows our loved ones to share what they need, especially if they wouldn’t instinctively ask for it.
15. Bring a small hostess gift. If you’re invited to someone’s house for dinner or visiting someone’s home for the first time, a small gift is a thoughtful gesture. Mine are always specific to the house I’m visiting, but olive oil, wine, a good candle, or an interesting condiment I know they’d love are my go-to’s.
16. Share something you know they’ll love. A simple “thinking of you,” “saw this and thought of you,” “you inspired me by something you said,” kind of text goes so far. I stand by the notion that everyone loves to hear that they’re thought of, and the impact they’ve had on your life. It’s so simple and small but very meaningful to receive.
17. Listen. It costs absolutely nothing and makes everyone feel seen and heard when you offer a kind and compassionate listening ear.
18. If you’re hosting, make a special-to-your-guests recipe. Did you go on a date and want to recreate a dish? Are you paying homage to an iconic or memorable dish you’ve discussed? Where is your guest from, and do they have any nostalgic dishes they love? Consider these questions or any that will inspire you to whip up something with a story you both share.
19. Make a playlist for someone you love. Burned CDs in the 90s were the surefire way I knew that a boy liked me, and visa versa. (I’m sorry for all the CDs I made that over-indexed in Boyz II Men—I was obsessed.) I still think it’s fun to get to do this for dinner parties, for someone you’re dating, or for a special occasion. My sister tapped a DJ to make one for my 40th birthday party and it was pure gold.
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