The 25 Days of Giving Challenge: Information and Guidelines

Welcome to The Challenge!  Twenty-five days. Think you can do it?  I know you can.  And I suspect that  on Day 26, at least some of you just may decide to keep on giving.  But I'm getting ahead of myself. So let's just begin at the beginning, shall we?

I still don't know that I love the word "challenge" to describe what we are doing here, since I honestly think that giving, like any healthy habit, is most often its own reward.  Less a challenge than the development of a regular practice, giving is something we learn to do over time, mindfully, planfully, and selflessly (hopefully!).  So this challenge, while probably less an effort than a reminder to take time out of our busy lives for just a few minutes a day, is really a community effort - giving of ourselves to others, and giving of ourselves with others.

Hopefully you have watched my video explanation already (Lighten Up: The 25 Days of Giving Challenge) since it is not quite as dry as my writing.  But in case you prefer the written documentation approach over the "talk it through" vlog (which, by the way, will be the primary method of communication over the next 25 days, so get used to a lot of me, talking, in poorly lit rooms, at strange, shaky camera angles, cinéma vérité style), I have decided to bullet point the most important aspects of the Challenge here, for ease of reference over the next 25 days.  So use them whenever you need them, but don't rely on them at the expense of your own creativity, either.  Give from your heart, even if you have to break a "guideline" because (just between you and me and the cyberverse, nothing bad will happen to you if you, say, spend $26 instead of $25.)  It is most important that you give, and that you personally invest in the process and the people to whom you are giving.

So here, in no particular order, are The 25 Days of Giving Challenge Guidelines:

1.  Challenge dates: December 1, 2012-December 25, 2012

2. What can you give?  What should you give?  Well, since there are no "cans" or "shoulds" involved here, the broad answer is: "Anything you want."   Sometimes, sitting and talking - really talking - and listening to - really listening to - someone can mean the world to that person.  Other people need help with various tasks, projects, challenges.  I'm sure there are some people in your life - as there are in mine - who are going through particularly difficult times at the moment, while others are looking to celebrate some great achievement(s) that deserve notice.  You can't "give" wrong, so whatever you do will be "right."  When else and where else will you get to say that on any given day?  Seems like a little more incentive to participate, if you ask me!

3.  Spending cap: $25.00.  You don't have to spend any money at all (and in fact it would be amazing to spend no money while still giving something to someone every day for 25 days).  However, you may spend up to $25, either all at once, on a single person, or spread over the 25 days, in any way(s) you wish.

4. You can devote the 25 days of giving to a single person, or to as many people as you want. These can be family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances in whatever groups or programs you belong to, and/or complete strangers.

5. This should be something you do above and beyond your every day life - outside of your job, your regular family obligations, etc. That doesn't mean you can't do something extra special for a family member or colleague, just that it should be unexpected, out of the ordinary, and nothing for which you expect to be compensated.  (Here's a hint: An "I love you" note inside the lunch bag of the loved one whose lunch you make every day would go a long way toward meeting the goal of an unexpected, out of the norm gesture done solely for the purpose of positively impacting someone else's day. Unless said loved one is one's teenager, in which case ... no.)

6. You can do this anonymously, meaning you can leave things for people or engage with them without telling them you are part of this challenge, or you can tell them you are working on paying your own gratitude forward and want to do something for them "just because," as a way of showing your own gratitude. It's up to you.

7. Finally, I would like you to journal your experiences each day. Nothing fancy or wordy (unless you would like to be fancy and wordy - that would be pretty cool, too!).  But no pressure to do more than jot down (or vlog, which is what I will mostly be doing) what you did/gave each day, a little about the recipient (relationship to you, why you chose him/her for your giving that day, and his/her behavior both before and after the giving). Also, how did you feel both before and after the giving?  Did someone else's gratitude affect your mood at all?  Did someone else's gratitude toward you impact your feelings, behavior, and eagerness to give again?  

I would LOVE to post anything you would be willing to send - your journal entries, vlogs you would be willing to create and send, links to your own blogs about this challenge (which I hope you will share as widely as possible on your Facebook and Twitter pages), so PLEASE go to the "Contact Me" page and send whatever you have and comment, comment, comment here, too.  And remember, the more you share here, the more ideas others will take from you about similar ways to give.  So think of your willingness to share as one more way to give.

So welcome ... and let the giving begin!


  1. Okay so here is day one and the challenge is on. Hope everyone participating writes something here so we can all share in the inspiring action of others.

  2. So day one was pretty easy for me. I invited my neighbor's children to spend the night as part of my son's birthday present. This neighbor is not only a neighbor, but she is also my friend and colleague. She also always has my son, Nick at her house and lets him spend the night there and feeds him (no small job). She is someone that I can always count on no matter what! I think she deserves a break more than anyone I know and it is the least I can do today. I think life is harder for her than she will say out loud and she never complains. She lives in a house with 3 guys and her boys are very active, beautiful children. She always has plenty of stories to tell!
    At work, I have never heard her say an unkind word to any child or adult. She is an eternal optimist and so good at her job. So today I salute her as a parent and friend and give her a well deserved break. I hope she spends it doing whatever she wants and I will put up with 3 rambunctious boys who will probably not go to bed until the wee hours of the morning. Happy December 1st:)

  3. Love this! Though I may not be able to participate every day, can I at least try for most days? So great Heather, thanks for doing this.


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