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This Holiday Season, Think Small.

by J. Money on Thursday, December 24, 2009

Guest post by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

As the authors of THE POWER OF NICE and THE POWER OF SMALL, we know first-hand how our small, kind actions can have a tremendous impact on the lives of others, and consequently our own. And contrary to what you might think, things as seemingly trivial and simple as making small talk with a stranger can have life altering consequences.

Don’t believe us? Just listen to Sandy and Annamarie tell their story:

From holding the door for a coworker, to making casual conversation with the cashier at the corner store, the opportunities to effect positive change are all around us, and you can discover them, too. The key is to shift your outlook and retune your focus from the big picture to the small details… and the holidays are a perfect time to start.

Sure, hitting the mall and loading up your shopping bags full of fancy toys, designer clothes, and high-tech electronics is fun and feels good, but we believe that making small, kind gestures as a token of affection can feel even better. In fact, by harnessing the power of small, you can make a little go a long way and discover that sharing holiday cheer with friends and family doesn’t have to cost a thing. So, whether or not you’re pinching pennies this season, why not try these tips for a SMALL, NICE holiday?

Write a letter.

When we were reading this month’s Real Simple Magazine, we came across an idea from a reader that really hit home. Each year, in lieu of a store-bought gift, she writes a heartfelt letter to each of her relatives, expressing her feelings of thanks, love, and respect. Although inexpensive, the looks on each of the recipients’ faces year after year show how valuable the letters really are.

Offer your services.

If you’re a great cook, why not become a personal chef for the day? Love kids? Channel your inner Jo Frost and become a “supernanny” for the night. To make it more festive, design your own “gift card” on your computer or by hand, redeemable any time. Giving your friend or relative (especially a busy mom or dad) a bit of time to relax is a gift you can be sure they will appreciate!

Call an old friend.

With the popularity of online social networking, reconnecting with your long-lost friends is as easy as clicking “search,” but once you’ve found each other, why not give him or her a call instead of writing on his or her wall? The opportunity to catch up over the phone will raise both of your spirits.

Make a donation.

Show your loved ones that you care about the issues that matter to them by making small donations in their honor to charities you know they support. With just a few dollars, you can make a real difference to non-profit organizations of all kinds while letting your friends and relatives know you’re listening.

So this year, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of blowing your budget on lavish gifts for all of your friends and family, remember that there are other less expensive yet just as meaningful ways to show your generosity. By harnessing the power of the little things, this holiday season and throughout the year, you’ll find you’re well on your way to creating a nicer way of life for you and all of your family and friends.

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Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval are the CEO/Chief Creative Officer and President, respectively, of the Kaplan Thaler Group and the co-authors of the bestselling books Bang! and THE POWER OF NICE: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness. Their newest release, THE POWER OF SMALL: Why Little Things Make All the Difference, debuted on the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and USA TODAY bestseller lists and is available in stores now. You can catch up with them on their blog, follow them on Twitter, or find them on Facebook.


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