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Ten small but thoughtful things to do to lift someone’s spirits this week

by Megan Burns
02nd Nov 2020

A second lockdown is tough on everyone, so why not do something nice for a friend or loved one this week? 

With shorter, colder days and ‘pandemic fatigue’ well set-in, there’s no doubt that lockdown feels different this time around. There’s no clapping for healthcare workers, or videos of people singing on balconies together: it seems we’re all too fed up to do anything more than simply get through ourselves.

However, even the smallest kind act can not only make an immense difference to someone’s day, you’ll also feel better for spreading a little positivity. Whether it’s a friend you haven’t been able to see in a while, or an elderly neighbour, here are ten small but thoughtful things you can easily do to cheer someone up this week.

Cook or bake something 

Sharing food with friends and family is one of the things I miss most about lockdown: no inviting people round for dinner, or just a coffee and a chat in a café.

You can bridge the gap until you’re allowed to do this again by cooking or baking something for your loved one. Sweet treats always go down well, but a meal has the added benefit of giving them the night off from cooking.

This doesn’t have to be much extra work, either: simply double a recipe and you have dinner for both them and yourself (casseroles and stews travel particularly well).

Pass on a book or magazine

If you’re anything like me, your home is full of books and magazines that you’ve already read. Why not pass them on to someone else to enjoy?

Now, I don’t mean dumping a stack of old books you don’t want on a neighbour because you can’t be bothered to bring them to a charity shop. Select a book or magazine you think they’ll enjoy, and either pop it through their letterbox or send it in the post, along with a note saying why you think they’d like it.

If you’ve marked favourite passages or annotated thoughts in the margins, even better – it will feel more like an exchange between the two of you than had they just bought it themselves.

This exchange could even become a regular thing with a friend, swapping books as often as you like. You’re also guaranteed to have someone to discuss that intriguing plot twist with afterwards.

Make a recommendation

Whether it’s a great film you found on Netflix, a fascinating article or a hilarious podcast episode, send it on to someone you know will enjoy it just as much.

Sometimes searching out good content can feel like one task too many at the moment, and a recommendation is a welcome nudge in the right direction when it comes to filling your evening.

My sister recently raved about Never Have I Ever, Mindy Kaling’s Netflix coming-of-age comedy, and I spent a wonderful few evenings devouring it, so I can attest to the joy a simple recommendation can make.

Write a letter

A handwritten letter feels particularly special in a world of instant communication, and really shows that you’re thinking about someone. Plus, who doesn’t love the thrill of receiving something in the post that’s not a bill?

You could add drawings, photos, articles torn out of a magazine, some leaves you collected, anything that takes your fancy as well, to increase that sense of a physical connection, even when you can’t see each other.

Leave something unexpected on their doorstep

Whether you pick up an extra coffee for a neighbour or send a friend something small you know they’ll love, gifts don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful. Even a small gesture can totally make someone’s day.

Make plans to meet up when we’re allowed again

I don’t mean the kind of vague ‘we should get  lunch soon’ platitudes that no-one intends to follow up on. Decide on an activity that you two will do together (it can be lunch!), but tie it down with a date and location.

If restrictions change and you have to reschedule, so be it, but make sure it happens as soon as possible. Having something to look forward to will really help you both.

Gift a plant

Sending flowers is a lovely but often expensive gesture, but flowering plants can easily be picked up at large supermarkets, or you could even pot some up from your own garden if you’re green-fingered. Many Irish companies such as Howbert & Mays and Potty Mouth also allow you to order plants online.

Not only will these add some colour and life to your recipient’s home or windowsill, it’s a really simple way to let someone know you care.

Give a voucher for a local business

The amount doesn’t have to be large, even just enough for a coffee and a pastry at a favourite local bakery, but not only will this gesture give your friend a little treat, it will also be supporting one of the many small businesses that are struggling at the moment.

Make up a box of favourite treats

Great if you want to do something for a few friends at once, it’s really simple to make up small boxes of treats for people to leave on their doorsteps. The contents can be very inexpensive: a chocolate bar, some microwave popcorn, a bottle of bubble bath, a favourite magazine.

Whatever you include, there’s no doubt that it will be much appreciated at the moment, and can act as a small reminder for them to look after themselves during these difficult times.

Schedule a phone call for a proper chat 

I know I’m guilty of not calling people because ‘they might be busy’, and not want to be drawn into a long conversation, but phone calls are one of the best ways to properly check in with people at the minute.

If you’re not used to just phoning someone up out of the blue, then schedule it – send a text asking if a certain time would suit for a chat, and you’ll both know to set some time aside to catch up.

Featured image: Kate Macate via Unsplash

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