We were happy when my parents gave us a similar Christmas gift as last year: a roll of $1 bills and a note telling us to spread some Christmas cheer. We absolutely love this tradition because it helps put all of in a “how can we help others?” mindset.
So, this is what we did with our money this year:
Lunch on Us Envelopes
We decided to create several “Lunch on Us” envelopes. We gathered some Christmas cards, stuffed them with some cash and had the kids hand-write a message inside.
The note said something like this:
You are great. We’ve noticed you and want you to enjoy lunch on us.
Giving you this small gift helps us remember the gift of Jesus Christ. He fed the hungry more than once when He was on the earth. But, now it is our turn to do something kind.
We invite you to join us in giving acts of kindness to complete strangers during this holiday season. In doing so, we hope your Christmas is a little brighter.
The idea was that as we were out-and-about we would look for opportunities to give these out. It really made a big difference to our mindset as we ran our many holiday errands. Here are the people we gave envelopes to this year:
The Costco gas lady
She was out on a bitter cold night just doing her job. Ellie ran up to her and gave her an envelope and said “Merry Christmas!” The lady couldn’t stop smiling and she walked over to our Suburban and waved to us. Hopefully it warmed her up on that cold night.
A guy in uniform at Kohls
A serviceman was walking out of Kohls in his digital camouflage and wasn’t looking too happy (who would be after being in that absolute nightmare of a store). Manina got out, chased after him, and said, “Thank you for your service. Have a Merry Christmas!” Hopefully it made him forget his crappy experience at Kohls.
Our mail lady
This was an easy one that we just dropped in our front mailbox. She’s a civil servant, and could use the break.
The nice receptionist at the AF Rec Center
We targeted her because she is always so nice and friendly. After a workout, Manina ran an envelope and gave it to her at the front desk.
Our waitress at Buffalo Wild Wings
We went to dinner for Manina’s birthday and had a great waitress. We left her a good-sized tip, but felt like she deserved an envelope as well.
The friendly janitor at the mall
She was working on Christmas Eve and Drew finally worked up the courage to go give her an envelope. I caught some great pictures while pretending to get a drink from the drinking fountain. She said, “Oh that is so sweet! Can I also get a hug?” Drew obliged bashfully, but it totally made him feel good to make her day.
A construction crew on break at 7-11
These hard working guys rolled up next to us at 7-11. They’d obviously been on a job. Manina jumped out of our suburban and put an envelope on their van while they were in the store. One of the lucky guys came back out and grabbed it and opened it up while we watched stealthily from our car a couple spots down from his.
The car wash attendant
Katelyn went up to a car wash attendant and gave him an envelope. Her target ended up switching spots with another guy, so he got the lucky envelope.
An unlucky cashier
We did have one envelope mishap. On Christmas Eve Jake presented an envelope to a cashier at Holiday gas station in Riverton.
The only problem was that we had given him the wrong envelope! Manina discovered the error when looking for a gift card we had purchased for my brother. We raced back and swapped envelopes with the cashier who was wondering why we’d given him an envelope addressed to “Jesse and Mikaela.” Katelyn observed that it was a good thing the cashier’s name wasn’t Jesse or we would have really been in trouble. Hopefully our cashier friend will still be happy with his “lunch on us”.
Christmas Giving Tree
We also donated some money to our church ward giving tree. The bishop identifies a family in need and uses this money to help them out during Christmas. We decided to use some of our money to help an anonymous family in our neighborhood with Christmas.