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5 ways to make someone’s day for under $5!

With the end of the silly season, money is tight. Whether it is a New Year’s resolution, or the inevitable result of splurging at the end of 2012, everyone is watching their wallets.  If you want to make a difference to the world, but find yourself broke, read on. There are heaps of things you can do to give the gift of happiness without breaking the bank.

1. Send a letter or a postcard. There is nothing like the excitement of finding real-life mail in the letter box. My dad sends me a card or a postcard nearly every week from wherever he is in the world. Not only are postcards a nice way to send a message of love, they are usually pretty. Not only are you sending love, but also a piece of art! Another nice idea is writing a message on an old photograph, whacking a stamp on it, and posting away. I have a “postcard” on my wall that is a photo of the sky, and on the back is the message: ‘This is what we see when we look up.’ I don’t know why, but it’s one of my favourite pieces. Postcards only cost between 50 cents and $1, and you can post one anywhere in Australia for only 60 cents. That means you can brighten someone’s day for less than $2!

2. Bake something, and share it. Not only is baking a cheap way to entertain yourself for hours, it’s also a nice way to bond with friends, or people you’d like to know better. Homemade things just taste better, and there are plenty of things even the most inexperienced baker can attempt. Some recipes and ingredients can get a little pricey but there are cute, cheap options. Scones are literally just self-raising flour, butter, and milk. Cut the rolled-out mixture with a shot glass to make adorable mini scones, and serve with jam and a nice cup of tea. You can share these with friends, or offer some to neighbours. You’ve shown someone that you care, and all for the cost of ingredients you probably have at home right now.

3. Be extra nice to a shop-assistant. Yes, I work in retail, so I am not suggesting this for entirely selfless reasons. But you can make someone’s day better purely by being nice. It is incredible what a difference it can make. When we have nice customers at work, we will rave enthusiastically about them when they leave the store. It is sadly rare to have a customer make eye-contact or offer a smile. Give a genuine response to ‘how are you going?’ and I will be extra nice to you back. Acknowledge the fact that you’ve been greeted when you walk into a fashion store. We have to do this; it’s non-negotiable. You don’t have to stop and talk, but offer a smile. These are little things, but they do speed up the work day. It’s free, and it’ll make us both feel better.

4. Leave a nice note in a book for someone to find. Again, this is free to do and it’ll bring a smile to someone’s face. I was shopping in New York last year and I bought a book because I found a postcard someone had left inside it. It was a mini love note, not intended for me, but it was sweet, and made the book sentimental. You can write anything, on any scrap of paper, and pop it in any book. Eventually, someone will find it. It’s a sweet surprise, and only takes a minute.

5. Call a family member. An elderly gentleman at work yesterday said that the best Christmas present he got last year was an ‘I love you, Grandpa’ from his granddaughter. That absolutely melted my heart. Most mobile plans have some sort of deal where you get free or cheap phone calls. If you don’t have that, there’s always Skype. Calling your grandparents, or your mum and dad, is a sure-fire way to make their day. You don’t have to have big news to share. It’s amazing how nice it feels to hear from someone you love, particularly out of the blue, even if it’s just for a chat. A phone call lets your nanna know you’re still alive and thinking about her. It also gives her extra to brag about around the Scrabble table with all her friends.

There you go! Five ways that you can make someone’s day without breaking the bank. Chances are, by being extra-nice to someone, you’ll inspire them to do something nice for you (or someone else), creating a chain of sunshine and loveliness.

Has someone done something extra special for you lately?

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