Our hearts raced as we drove back around the corner, trying not to be seen. It was a hit-and-run delivery gone wrong. Our friend’s van unexpectedly backed out of the driveway as we were about to pull in for the drop. We had attempted to plan it for when she was picking up the kids from preschool, but obviously she was running late that day.
We drove around the next street over one more time just to make sure the coast was clear. When I pulled into the driveway, my oldest jumped out of the car in her finest camo gear and snuck stealthily toward the door. She dropped the package on the shiny new Christmas mat and was back in the car before anyone was the wiser.
We drove out of the neighborhood and back toward home, still trying to catch our breath from the excitement of nearly being caught. It was a moment of silence I’ll never forget.
And then bursts of laughter filled the van as if we had just spotted a tower of presents on Christmas morning. The kids squealed with delight, imagining their friends opening up the bag of treats and trinkets we had left for them.
And that was the moment I knew this was one tradition we would never give up. The joy of giving to someone else had changed everything about the way Christmas had been going in our family. Gone were the days of lying around on the floor with a toy catalog and a giant wish list. Instead, you would find us jabbering about what our unsuspecting victims might do when they discovered our gift and who would get “RACK’ed” next.
Since that first year, we have “bombed” cars in parking lots with candy canes and treated random strangers to vending machine snacks in the ER waiting room. We’ve snuck gas cards into friends’ purses at church and we’ve bought hot chocolate for the Salvation Army bell ringers. Recently I asked my children if they could remember a favorite from all of the years so far. We sat for quite some time sharing memories of all the fun things we have done and I marveled at the simplicity of their favorites.
What was originally an attempt to find a fun tradition that would get their minds off the materialism became a legacy of blessing we would cherish in our hearts for years to come. You see, the Bible isn’t wrong about that giving thing. It really IS more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). And so we continue to “RACK” people every Christmas, always looking for new ways to give away that love Jesus came to earth to offer us!
Want to join us this year?
This has been such a blessing to our family that I wanted to find a way to help others do it as well. So, I’m sharing step-by-step instructions for how we make it work and even some printables to make the “job” easier.
What is RACK?
The idea of RAK has actually been around for a long time. RAK stands for Random Acts of Kindness. There is even an organization, website, and a week in February devoted to RAK. I’m not really sure who thought to add the “C” into the mix and do it at Christmas, but it clearly was a wonderful idea.
You are probably familiar with RAK, or the idea of “paying it forward.” You simply do something nice–at random. Well, random for the unsuspecting receiver, that is. The giver often has to plan ahead at least a little to make this happen. The action could be anything from buying someone’s lunch at the drive-thru or bringing in the trash can for a neighbor. The point is to take a moment and do something kind for someone else.
What do we need?
Technically, you don’t need anything. You could just resolve right now to do one nice thing every single day in December. But if you are anything like me, that resolution will fail within a few days. I have to be more intentional. So, I created some little “You’ve been RACK’ed” cards and a list of ideas. These have really simplified the process.
The “You’ve been RACK’ed” cards will be attached to whatever we are giving to the person who is blessed with our gift that day. I generally buy white paper sacks (lunch size) or Christmas lunch sacks. You can get these at Walmart, Target, and craft stores. I also buy some Washi tape to attach the cards to the bags or to attach a gift directly to the card (such as a candy cane or gift card).
Then I take the kids shopping for things to give away. We look for cheap items like candy canes or items in the dollar bins. If money is super tight, we can give away candy canes on multiple days to a random car in the parking lot or to the cashier at the drive-thru. We also give away gift cards, cash, and other items. You can find more ideas on the checklist for things you might want to purchase.
The first year I did this, I was a single mom with 4 kiddos and an income of less than $15,000 a year. We bought 2 big boxes of candy canes and handed out some loose coins. Our total budget was $10 that year. Over the years we’ve grown the budget exponentially. Even the kids save for it!
How to plan it
Step one: pick your days. We generally do it every day in December until Christmas, so 25 days. If we are out of town, we do it there. You could plan to do it any number of days you wish. You could do it every other day or even just 3 times a week until Christmas. It’s totally up to you. But whatever you choose, please don’t let guilt set in if you let your goal slip by. It happens. We all miss a day and it will be ok. It’s a busy time of the year and this isn’t supposed to be something that makes us feel guilty. Remember the purpose and just pick up where you left off.
Step two: pick your budget. Don’t let this part keep you from doing it. Yes, you are going to need a little money to make this happen. At the very least, you need to print off the cards. If money is really tight, buy a couple boxes of candy canes to attach to the cards and then just make it a habit to bless someone every day. Total cost would be less than $5. Remember, it truly is the thought that counts.
If you can spare $25, then you can spend $1 a day to bless someone. If you have $125, you can spend $5 a day. Just remember, you can’t out-give God. Be generous and enjoy this!
For me, the amount we spend has varied greatly over the years. I don’t usually set a daily amount, as some days we will give something that is less than a dollar (such as money taped to the vending machine for a soda). Other days, we might give a $10 gas card or even a week’s groceries for a family in need. Generally, I look at the budget and decide how much money I have and then choose a few big things to do and fill in the rest from there.
Step three: pick the acts you would like to do. I’ve provided a list of 59 ideas. Some are very open-ended and can be used multiple times, like blessing different neighbors on different days. Of course, you will probably think of some on your own, too. I try to think about the week in advance and consider what opportunities might lay ahead. For example, if we are going to be near church for an errand, I might bring something to drop off for our church office staff. If I know that we will have dinner out, I will plan to give something to the waiter or delivery driver.
Because I know you are wondering, no, I don’t plan the whole 25 days in advance. It’s just too hard for me to know what opportunities we might have. But I will tell you this, if you don’t plan something, you probably won’t do much. So, get some ideas together and just run with it.
Setting up your Random Acts of Christmas Kindness Printables
“You’ve been RACK’ed” Cards:
You will want to print these out on card stock so you can hand them out. I have made 6 different colors to choose from. You can pick one or use them all! Once these are printed and cut, I usually put them together with the items we are giving away. I also keep a stash in my car in case an opportunity arises, like buying coffee/lunch at a drive-thru. Just having them in the car makes it easy to be random and spontaneous.
Checklist or Action Cards:
Because I know that everyone likes choices, we’ve given you one. You might choose to cut out your activity cards and put them in a cute basket or jar like I do. Then you can dig through and pick the day’s RACK. Or you can even pick one out at random. I usually save them each year and add more as we think of them.
If that seems daunting, you might prefer a checklist. We’ve got you covered. You can just print the checklist and throw it up on the fridge. As you complete an item, simply mark it off.
And that’s it. You are ready to go out and spread some Christmas kindness. I’m praying that your family makes amazing memories as you bless the socks off the people in your community. You may never know the beauty of the seed it plants in their heart!
P.S. If you happen to be a local friend of mine, please pretend you didn’t read this post, just in case you get RACK’ed!
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