12 Most Walloping Ways Anyone Can Make a Huge Impact

12 Most Walloping Ways Anyone Can Make a Huge Impact

Huge gifts impress. No doubt about that. A shiny diamond, a sleek new car, a weekend away for a sweetheart — these all are fantastic surprises.

Many wonderful treats, however, are much simpler and cheaper to deliver. These gems are also precious, and they don’t require a big bank account. Anyone can offer one (or more) of these gifts.

1. Food for a new parent

Caring for a new life takes all available energy — at first, at least. New moms and dads are exhausted. They are often overwhelmed by the demands thrust upon them that no amount of studying “What to Expect” can simulate. They need nourishing meals. But, preferably, they need not to cook or get that food themselves.

Drop off a warm dish to a new mom or dad. It doesn’t have to be home-cooked. Yummy takeout is just as acceptable. It’s a priceless gesture (I speak from experience on this one!).

2. Sending a thank you note

Yes, we are taught to send a note after receiving a gift. But consider sending one at a time when the recipient wouldn’t necessarily expect it.

Did a friend help you move? Did a co-worker swap shifts with you? Did a neighbor shoo your cat back into your yard before the feline could scamper off to who-knows-where?

Send a note of thanks. It will mean more than you might think.

3. Offering to reach something on a shelf at a store

Have you noticed that the bargain brands are often way up high or way down low at the grocery store? People who have limited mobility – for a variety of reasons — must either take a friend or other helper to the store, or forgo picking many of the deals out of reach. It can feel awkward or frustrating to keep looking for another shopper to ask for a favor.

So, next time you see someone using a wheelchair or cane (or struggling for any reason) and eyeing something on a shelf out of reach, gently offer help.

4. Holding the door for someone

This one is really a gender-less issue, these days. If someone is coming through after you, hold the door.

And, if someone is having a tough time — a mom with a stroller, a lady who’s moving with difficulty, a man juggling packages — stay a few more moments at the door, keep it open and offer a smile.

It’s a valuable gift and “costs” less than 30 seconds.

5. Telling the manager of a restaurant server or store clerk their service was stellar

Giving a great tip for great service during a meal is essential. And it’s welcome to repeatedly give your business to a store with extra helpful associates.

But, next time you are moved by an effort that was over and above the normal call of duty, take a moment and report the good deed.

Managers often hear about what’s wrong — they don’t hear as often about the successes. Employees are the front line of a brand’s reputation. When they are doing a great job, they deserve to have that celebrated widely.

6. A note in the suitcase of someone you’ll miss

Next time your honey or son or daughter (or other special someone) is packing for a trip, write them a kind and caring note. Then, slip it into their suitcase. Picture the look of happiness and warmth that will wash over their face when they find it. Bliss.

7. How am I driving?

Those ubiquitous stickers on the back of corporate fleet vehicles or trucks always show a toll-free number to report compliments or complaints. Most of the calls are complaints. No surprise there.

If you see one of those vehicles being especially courteous, consider calling in a compliment. It matters.

8. Dropping off magazines to a clinic’s offices

Public hospitals or clinics are under more financial pressure than ever. Magazine subscriptions are a luxury from a time past, in many cases. Consider offering to drop off some recent magazines you are finished with and, otherwise, would have just recycled.

Many of the folks waiting for care will appreciate it.

9. Putting a quarter in a car’s meter that is about to expire

This is a gift that almost all of us would love to have received, at one time or another.

10. Give ’em a break

We all make mistakes. The next time someone goofs, keep goofs in perspective — give people some slack when a slip up occurs. And just smile.

11. Giving a parent who is being patient a real compliment for that

Moms who are at the end of their rope are easy to spot and just as easy to judge. They are used to “those” looks. (Yep, I know all about this.)

But those who are managing their antsy kids with creativity and grace don’t usually hear about it. (I know about this, too!)

A few times it has happened, though: a shopper or clerk complimented me for calmly and effectively handling my young boys whose energy was spilling out of them. And it left me beaming for hours. When you catch a parent who is doing something good, let ’em know!

12. Offering quiet empathy

We never know what other folks are dealing with and what struggles they face. When someone lets out a detail that makes you realize they are carrying a hefty weight, take a moment and give them some empathy.

A woman I often sat near in one of my graduate seminar classes — and who had near perfect attendance — was absent one week. At the next class, as we students were settling into our seats, I told her that we had missed her the week before. She whispered that she had suffered a miscarriage. I opened my arms — in case she wanted to move in for a hug. She did and shed a few tears.

Later she told me that it had meant the world to her: just silent support. Wow, now that’s powerful!

Many other ways exist, of course, to bestow gracious little gifts as we move through the world. These dozen are just a sampling of examples that show big returns don’t always require big investments.

What is your favorite thoughtful treat to give? And is there a time that you received one? I’d love to hear about it.

Featured image courtesy of Purple Monkey Feet licensed via Creative Commons.

Becky Gaylord


Becky worked as a reporter for more than 15 years in Washington, D.C.; Sydney, Australia; and Cleveland, Ohio for major publications including the New York Times, Salon.com, Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, and was Associate Editor of the Plain Dealer's Editorial Page before she launched the consulting practice, Gaylord LLC. The company helps clients improve their external relations and communication and increase their influence and impact. Becky blogs about that (a few other things) at Framing What Works.

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Julie Barnes aka The Empowerment Ninja
Julie Barnes aka The Empowerment Ninja

WOW! What a beautiful piece Becky.  There are a few you listed that I make part of my regular practice, but I have never thought about doing #7. That is a great way to show gratitude for the long hours truck drivers put behind the wheels while away from their families so that the rest of  us can go down to the local supermarket and have everything we need. 


Nice post Becky - and I especially! agree about Thank You notes (the on paper kind especially especially!!). When I am checking out I always try to catch the clerk's name and thank them by name -- it's a small thing but it makes me focus just for a minute on who they are exactly, not just a cog in the corporate retail wheel!


Fabulous reminders to pass kindness forward!

PaulBiedermann moderator

@Becky Gaylord McDonald  I did a few of these things recently after you reminded me of the little but “walloping” things that make a difference — both by your kind, personal gesture a couple weeks ago and then after first seeing this post. Thank you. (And I hope that person appreciates the extra time I put on their parking meter!) :-)


Thank you so much, Julie. I really appreciate your kind words. Thank you for the follow, too. @Julie Barnes aka The Empowerment Ninja 

By the way, I got the idea for #7 when I was following a snow plow driver who was especially courteous to an elderly driver. I was behind the plow, and thought, "Wow, what a lovely gesture!" And there, right in front of me, was the phone number to call to make sure his company knew too. 


@biggreenpen Thanks for your comments. Love those real thank you notes -- or handwritten notes just because. Just got one from my niece away at summer camp. I'll keep it, for sure. And likely re-read it, too. Had it been an email, that still would've been lovely. But, eventually it probably would've gone into the deleted files folder.