Monday, 27 January 2014

Ways to Make Your Loved Ones (And Strangers!) Smile

The last few weeks, I've been really struggling. I'm not really good at talking about things or opening up to people, but severe lack of sleep (some nights, I've been getting none at all - thanks, pregnancy hormones!) has left me feeling pretty low.

While some days I have wanted to just SCREAM, other days have been hugely brightened by random acts of kindness from friends and loved ones. One day, my very special friend Sarah (@bakehouseswanst) sent me a surprise package of some of my most loved foods and treats, along with a gorgeous card.

Another day, hubby sent me a huge bouquet of flowers "just because", while baby boy returned from a  trip to the shops with a bunch of Daffodils and a slobbery kiss. It's safe to say that all three random acts of kindness made me cry and smile in equal measures, and my dark mood quickly lifted.

Anyway, it got me thinking...sometimes, we all need a little help, don't we? Particularly on cold, drizzly January Monday mornings like these. A little something to make us smile, or to make us feel loved and special. So, here's my favourite things or Ways to Make Your Loved Ones (And Strangers) Smile.

Go ahead and make someone's day, or even week. You never know when they might need it most...

Sam x

Smile - Even at Strangers!

Every day, we tend to get so concerned or lost in thought about our own lives that we forget to reach out to others, to smile at people or say "hello". Why? Just stop, take a moment and smile - it costs nothing, and it will lift your mood too! I mean, how many times has your day been lifted by a smile, or a polite word from a complete stranger? Don't worry about looking like a complete fruit loop - I promise they won't think you're a psycho (although, I guess that depends on the smile...)

Call to See How They're Doing

All too often (and I am completely at blame for this one), we reach for our phones and text or email when we're thinking of someone. Why not take five minutes to pick up the phone to call a friend or a relative instead? Let someone know you're there for them, ask how they're doing, or tell them a joke.

Send a Letter or a Card

Even if you live round the corner from your best friend, why not write her a beautiful letter, telling her why you love her? Or post a card which you know will make her smile? After all, our post usually only ever contains bad news. Brighten their day with something wonderful.

Pre-Pay For Their Coffee

I LOVE this idea so much that I had to try it - and I was literally glowing for the rest of the day at seeing their joy! Next time you're queuing at your favourite cafe with a bunch of grim-faced commuters, why not spread a little cheer by pre-paying for a coffee or muffin for the person standing behind you? For the cost of a few pounds, you'll leave them beaming.

Tell Them Everything You Love

Buy a large jar and a packet of small envelopes, then write one thing about your friend / hubby / partner that you love about them. Seal it up, place it in the jar and repeat. Keep going, then gift them the jar and tell them to open up one envelope every time they need a smile.

Pay Compliments

You know when someone approaches you and tells you they adore your handbag / shoes / dress? It makes you smile from ear-to-ear, doesn't it? Well, why not return the favour, and compliment people - yes, strangers too! - when you think they look great, or when they've done something brilliant.

Cook or Bake Cookies

The way to most people's hearts (not just men's - or at least, not as far as I'm concerned!) is through their bellies. Why not offer to cook a friend their favourite meal, or bake a huge batch of cookies to hand out at the office? Who wouldn't smile at chocolatey goodness?

A Few of Their Favourite Things

My entire week was literally turned around when Sarah sent me a surprise parcel of my favourite things, including Haribo, Drumstick lollies and flavoured almonds. Why not surprise someone you love with a few of their favourite things too? Whether it's raindrops on roses, or whiskers on kittens, it doesn't have to be expensive, just a way of saying "I know you and I'm thinking of you."

Hug it Out

Here's another one I'm guilty of - I don't hug people anywhere near enough because it makes me nervous. Isn't that ridiculous? Yet I know that millions of people are the same and go about their day-to-day lives without so much as even touching someone. Spread a little joy into your own (and someone else's) life by giving them a hug. You'll feel a gazillion times better, I promise.

Always Say "I Love You"

How often do you take the people you most love for granted? How often do you say "I love you" and really mean it? Well, I'm challenging you to let everyone you care about know just how much you love them. Text them or call them to say it, or tell them to their face.

Say Thank You

This (finally!) is one thing I'm good at. I say "thank you" to everyone, from bus and train drivers to waitresses, friends, colleagues - I really believe that you should never, ever take someone or something for granted. Let them know how much you appreciate them with a simple "thank you."


I seriously believe that the art of listening is undervalued. Sometimes, all people want is a friendly ear, or a shoulder to cry on. Whether that's a troubled friend, or an elderly relative who doesn't get the chance e to talk to people, everyone likes to talk every now and again. So, why not be that person? Stop talking at people and, instead, start listening. You'd be amazed at just what you could learn.

Always Hold the Door

This is an easy, peasy one and so easy to do, but how often do strangers hold the door for others now? I've lost count of the number of times people have put their heads down or buried themselves in the newspaper when I've been wrestling with the door and the pushchair. Don't be that person and, instead, take 30 seconds out of your day to hold the door and make someone else's life that little bit easier.