Being that it’s the week of Christmas, everyone is talking about “last-minute shopping.”  Where can you get last-minute deals, with delivery in time for Christmas?  This weekend, instead of thinking of last-minute shopping, I was thinking about last-minute giving.

Maybe you haven’t been as intentional about searching out and pursuing giving opportunities like you may have hoped this year.  But, since then you’ve gotten into the spirit of the season, and you really want to spread the cheer before the Christmas season is out.  But now there’s 72 hours until Christmas morning!  Where can we find good places to spread Christmas cheer through giving?

Here are some great ways and places to spread the Christmas cheer in the little time that we have left before Christmas.

Starbucks drive-thru (or any other drive-thru)
This is a fun little tradition that can bless someone.  Drive thru at your favorite eatery or coffee shop, and when you get to the window, pay for yours, and the person behind you.  It’s not big, but it’s a great way to be a blessing to someone!  I like it because it’s “blind” – you can’t really see who you’re giving for, and they can’t really see you.  By the time they find out you’ve blessed them with their coffee or meal, you’re long gone, and all they can do is thank God and pay it forward.

Waffle House, IHOP (and anywhere else where you can tip on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day)
Most folks that are working on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in service-oriented establishments like restaurants aren’t doing it because they have a passion for flapjacks and skipping out on time with their family.  They do it because they love their family and need the money.  If you’re going to patronize an establishment like this, make your server’s day a lot better by being gracious and tipping very heavily.  Plan to tip a minimum of fifty percent and make what can be a difficult day much easier.

Everybody in an airport is trying to be somewhere else.  Planes get delayed, stuff gets confiscated, private parts get patted-down, and many other things happen that add to the general tenseness of the traveling atmosphere.  Sounds like a perfect opportunity to spread some cheer!  Make it a little easier on someone by paying for their drink, lunch, or magazine.  Traveling at the holidays is neither easy nor cheap, so a small gesture could go a long way to a making someone else’s trip a little better.

Spend a little time downtown in your closest city.  Drive around to some streets you don’t normally drive on.  Check out the public city squares.  You’ll see plenty of need there.  If you don’t want to give money (and I generally don’t), buy some hot meals or sandwiches to go and pass them out.  Even better, buy a Christmas gift for someone that might not get anything this year.

Thrift Shops
People don’t shop at thrift shops because they prefer used clothing to new, brand-name clothing.  They don’t shop at thrift shops because they want to avoid crowds.  They shop there because they don’t have the means to do otherwise.  How cool would it be to just stand at the register and pay for five customers orders?  Talk to the cashier and see if there’s a way you can do it without standing up there.  Then you can just “shop around” nearby and watch as the fun happens.

Nursing Homes
If you want to be a blessing, but maybe don’t have much in the way of resources, giving your time, attention, and love to the elderly in retirement and nursing homes is a great way to give.  Many people living in nursing homes feel forgotten (with good reason), and the are often made to feel as though they are nothing but a burden.  With just the gift of your time, you can make someone feel loved

National Christian Foundation
If you know you want to give charitably, but don’t know which charity you would like to support, you could give using a donor-advised fund through National Christian Foundation.  The fund allows you to give now, before the end of the year, then grant that money to the charities that you designate (subject to approval).  My friend Em has a great post about donor-advised funds.  This doesn’t allow you to do small, personal giving with the money, but it does allow you to designate the money for charity within the tax year.

Question: Where else can you find a great last-minute giving opportunity to spread the Christmas cheer?