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38 Acts of Birthday Kindness

38 Acts of Birthday Kindness

I’ll warn you right now, this isn’t a design post!  I promise after today we’ll go right back to normal.  But I just had to share my excitement over last weekend’s “38 Acts of Birthday Kindness”.

About a year ago, I stumbled upon a blog that touched, moved and inspired me. A young mom decided to make her 35th birthday special – by performing 35 random acts of kindness.

I decided that I was going to do the same for my next birthday.  Using the internet as my guide (and a ton of great ideas on Pinterest!), I brainstormed a list of 38 random acts of kindness for my own birthday.

Most of my acts turned out to be more like “planned out acts of kindness”… It took me the whole weekend (and then some) to complete the whole list!

Talk about one of the most special birthdays I’ve ever had.  I had no idea how moving and inspiring this whole process would be!

Here’s the list:
1) I sent my parents a birthday card.  I sent a simple Hallmark card to my mom and dad, wishing THEM a happy birthday on my special day.  I was moved to tears as I wrote from the heart, thanking them for all their sacrifices and for loving me no matter what.

2)  I gave away gift cards.  I have this mini stash of gift cards (from Target, Best Buy, etc.) that are old stocking-stuffers and I simply have never used them!  I just loved the sparkle in peoples’ eyes as I handed them out – one young guy was like “whoa!  COOL!”  The cards had like $5 on them.  Not a ton of money but the point was just to spread the love…

3)  I bought a coffee for the lady behind me at Starbucks.  

4)  I picked up trash in our local park – just walking along, a few pieces, nothing big.  But I felt so empowered taking ownership and doing doing my small part to make our park more beautiful.

5)  I dug up some old photos and sent them in the mail to two of my oldest, dearest friends.  I laughed and cried looking through the photos and writing captions for each. It was so nice to sit there and ponder how much those girls mean to me, how far we’ve come and how long ago that all was.
For Jennie:

For Alexa:

6)  I drafted my 2-year-old Charlie’s artistic talent and together we created and delivered “thank you” cards to the doormen in our building:

7) We delivered a card covered in guitar drawings to Charlie’s music teacher. “Thank you, Bill, for being such a great music teacher and a positive influence in my life!  Love, Charlie”

8)  We gave Starbucks cards and a note of thanks to Charlie’s soccer coaches.

9)  I collected a bunch of books off my shelves and left them in my building’s lobby for my neighbors, so someone else could enjoy them.

10)  We brought a dozen donuts (and a colorful note of thanks) to our local fire station:



High five!  Sorry for waking you up at 8:30am, Mr. Fireman!

11)  We delivered donuts and a card to the police precinct in our neighborhood.  The sergeant came out to say thank you so much.  I just wish I had a picture of this nice man who also gave Charlie a high five.


I have to admit, in all my interactions with people through this process, it’s hard to “be in the moment” and also whip out the camera.  It’s just too awkward!  Hence, more pictures of “stuff” than of people!!

My amazing partners in crime, Alex and Charlie.  It was so much fun to spread the love with them!  After visiting the police station, we did a big group family hug because the whole thing felt so good.

12)  I did nice things for my husband.  Isn’t it amazing how we take for granted the people who are closest to us?  In the spirit of birthday kindness I wanted to do “little things” to make Alex feel special.  On my birthday, I woke up early with Charlie while Alex slept in, I made him coffee, and let him take a shower first (!).

13)  I invited a non-local friend over for dinner.

14)  I left a chocolate bar and a note for our postman. I figure these guys never get any appreciation!

15) I sent a card and flowers to my grandmother.

16)  I found my 6th grade teacher (on Facebook!) and sent him a letter, telling him thank you for the impact he had on my life.  

17) I paid for someone’s subway ride. 

18) I snuck into our building’s basement laundry room and filled every washing machine with quarters.  I totally giggled to myself like a crazed elf – it was so sneaky and so fun!!

19)  I brought muffins and fruit to my office and sent an email around to everyone, thanking them for being such great colleagues and as a small token of my appreciation, breakfast was on me!

20)  I brought donuts to the maintenance and security guys in my office building and wrote “thank you for your hard work, keeping us safe and protected”

21)  I gave two movie ticket gift certificates to our receptionist.  Her eyes popped out of her head she was so excited!  Then I whipped out my iPhone to take a picture and I’m certain she thought I was crazy.  Hence her confused looking smirk below.  I decided afterwards that maybe I should just enjoy the moment and not take a picture of every interaction I have!



22)  I planted trees in memory of my dear, departed grandparents.  I think of it as an act of hope and caring for our planet.


23)  I really took the time to give directions to some tourists on the street.  We took out google maps on my iPhone, and there was lots of hand gesturing and lots of smiles.

24) We gave our delivery guy a HUGE tip!

25)  I left some stamps at the post office for someone to find. Another moment where I giggled to myself with glee!


 26)  I gave something really cool away on Craigslist. I inherited this venetian glass mirror from an internship I once had.  I thought, “wouldn’t it be nice to just give it to someone that could either make money selling it or really enjoy its beauty in their home?”  It was claimed by someone within two hours – and the guy seemed so thrilled!


27)  I gave balloons away to children on the playground.  There is nothing like a balloon to light up a child’s face!

28)  I gathered supplies for a female soldier to send to Afghanistan.  I did it through an awesome website called AnySoldier.com – the soldiers themselves list what they actually need and want.

29)  I dropped off a bag of gently used baby items at a local health clinic that serves moms and babies.  

30) I gave a “free coffee” gift certificate to a security guard at the health clinic (pictured above).  He leapt up from his desk and was all smiles.  It filled my heart to see how grateful he was.

31)  I left a book that means a lot to me on a park bench with a note explaining how I hope the person who picks this up finds it as moving and inspirational as I have.  This was one of my favorites – such a simple and easy gesture of connectedness.

32)  I gave flowers to our elderly neighbor.  They were actually birthday flowers from my awesome friend Laura. With her blessing, I decided to “pay it forward” and left them at my neighbor’s door.  I wrote to my neighbor, “these were simply too beautiful to keep for myself. I hope you enjoy them”.


33) I spontaneously gave someone a hug who needed it.

34) I really listened to a friend of mine, giving her my undivided attention.

35)  I smiled at strangers and purposefully gave out compliments.

36)  I let someone else in front of me in line.

37)  We bought books from some young neighborhood girls who were trying to raise money for their school.  And we over-paid them!

38)  We bought breakfast for someone at a restaurant… and scurried out of the restaurant before she could find out who it was!

And there you have it!  A run-of-the-mill 38th birthday turned into a weekend of fun, kindness and love.  I have to say, my few days of flurried action left me feeling humbled and inspired, and connected to others in ways that I haven’t felt in a long time.  I have a feeling we’ll be doing this again next year!

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness ~ Seneca

  • Phyllis

    June 8, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    You are amazing, creative, beautiful, generous, hilarious and yes, inspiring! What an amazing birthday!

    3 fist-pumps , a high-five and a hug from me!

  • Kelly

    June 8, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    A friend of yours, Laura Wales Holliday, posted this on her FB page. I just finished reading it with tears streaming down my face. Totally awesome, amazing, and lovely. Thank you for sharing it. I definitely want to do this myself when I turn 40 in March. You’ve inspired me!

  • nata bean

    July 16, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    I love these random acts and think you are such an awesome and giving heart.
    I enjoy your blog & this site and love your creativity.
    hope all is well,

  • Alexa

    November 16, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    My dear Lorri. I just read this awe inspiring blog and it brought me to tears. You are such a beautiful, inspiring human being. When I opened the mail and saw those beautiful photos of us way back when.. my husband could hear me laughing all the way downstairs while he was putting our boys to bed upstairs. I haven’t truly laughed like that in years. Thank you for bestowing on me one of your 38 acts of kindness. I am honored and humbled. Love, Lex