50 ways to be kind in Chattanooga this holiday season

The holidays can be stressful. They're busy and expensive, and there's a lot of pressure to make them the most wonderful time of the year. This season, give yourself grace. Focus on what you can control: the energy you put into the world. Here are 50 ways to be kind.

1. Compliment a stranger at the grocery store.

2. Hand-write a "thank you" note to someone in your life, and "snail mail" it to them.

3. Leave some change next to a vending machine.  photo  Staff file photo / Zachary Fowler shakes hands with James Boas after serving him a warm Thanksgiving meal inside of the Community Kitchen in downtown Chattanooga.

4. Volunteer at Chattanooga Community Kitchen the days following Thanksgiving or Christmas. Food banks and soup kitchens are often inundated with volunteers on holidays but lack the same support in the weeks after.

5. Turn the lights off when you leave a room.

6. Take a walk around your neighborhood after trash has been collected, and pick up any litter left behind.

7. Fill a bird feeder in your yard. This is especially helpful on cold days when other food sources may be frozen over.

8. Adopt or foster a pet from the local shelter.

  photo  Staff file photo / Volunteers inside the Calhoun Street warehouse prepare to distribute gifts in the annual Angel Tree event.

9. Adopt an "angel" from the Chattanooga Angel Tree, offering gift assistance to children and seniors. Angel Trees can be found at the local Salvation Army, and adoptions kickoff Nov. 11.

10. Offer to babysit for free for a friend or relative.

11. Donate gently used toys to Chattanooga's Forgotten Child Fund.

12. Add change to a parking meter that's about to expire.

13. Bake holiday cookies or give a cash tip to your mail carrier, garbage collector or dry cleaner.

14. Let someone go ahead of you at the grocery store checkout.

15. Listen without waiting to respond.

  photo  Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Phlebotomist April Dempsey talks to Ainsley Gillespie as she finishes her donation to Blood Assurance.

16. Donate blood through Blood Assurance. (Donations typically take only 30-45 minutes to complete.)

17. Call a family member or friend you haven't spoken to in a while.

18. In heavy traffic, let a car in front of you that has its turn signal on.

19. Bring treats to work for no reason.

20. Hold the door open for someone.

21. Post a positive online review for a deserving, local business.

22. Leave a positive comment on a friend's social media post.

23. Take a shelter dog for a walk through McKamey Animal Center's Trailblazer program -- no training or orientation required.

24. Treat a friend or colleague to lunch.

25. Give a new mom her own gift.

26. Volunteer to spend time with seniors at a local nursing home or assisted living facility.

27. Buy a movie ticket for the person in line behind you.

28. Thank your child's bus driver with a gift.

  photo  Staff file photo / Deacon Kendall looks through books at the Chattanooga Public Library.

29. Volunteer at the Chattanooga Public Library. Opportunities are available for those ages 10 and up.

30. Leave your server an extra generous tip.

31. Mow your neighbor's lawn, or rake their leaves.

32. Do your best to not complain for an entire day.

33. Don't engage in gossip.

34. Donate your hair to Locks of Love (a minimum of 10 inches is required; permed or color-treated hair is acceptable.)

35. Donate school supplies to a local teacher.

36. Scoop up someone else's dog poop at the park.

37. Search "Chattanooga" on GoFundMe, and find a worthy cause to support.

38. Set a goal to buy at least 20% of your holiday gifts from local businesses.

  photo  Getty Images

39. Extend a kind gesture to a person outside of your political party.

  photo  Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Michael Bratcher uses a miter box saw to cut boards at Signal Centers as part of the United Way of Greater Chattanooga's Impact Days.

40. Go to ihelpchattanooga.org, and search for local volunteer opportunities.

41. Hold the elevator for someone.

42. Let someone else have the best parking spot.

43. Offer to return a stranger's grocery cart to the front of the store.

44. Smile and be pleasant to cashiers and salespeople.

  photo  Getty Images

45. Adopt a trail through Wild Trails' grassroots program, and commit to walking your trail once per month to pick up litter or report any other issues (down trees or erosion) to the nonprofit.

46. Leave a sweet note for your partner or child.

47. Leave a nice bag of coffee in the office break room.

48. Instead of having people give you birthday or Christmas gifts, ask them to donate gifts or money to your favorite charity.

49. Plant a tree.

50. Treat yourself to your favorite dessert, or buy yourself a special gift.