May Day Basket - give to friends and neighbors anonymously

One of my children’s most poignant “teachable moments” was cemented in their memories when our family left a “friendship basket” for the “Nice Lawn” guy (see template below).

For years, we had driven past a house near our church and watched as an older gentleman meticulously manicured his lawn.

He fertilized. He weeded. He loved on that lawn. And it showed.

Beautiful LIFE grew from that yard and it warmed our hearts to see the beauty that he tended.

Considering that our lawn is a muddy thorn in our flesh, I have used his work ethic as a weekly life lesson example.  For years, he has taught our children many lessons on perseverance and the potential that life offers when we have a ‘stick to it’ mentality.

But the thing I realized is that although we watched him from afar, he didn’t know how much his small actions ministered to us. Actions that he did on a daily basis without any realization that they mattered to someone else.

He was completely unaware.

So we decided to put our words into action and implement this “May Day” basket tradition.

You can name it what ever you want, and implement this during any time of the year. It wasn’t May when we gave it to him, so we called it the “Friendship basket.”


The purpose is to demonstrate gratitude, appreciation and compassion for someone in an anonymous way with out expecting anything in return… and that’s really hard, especially for children. (OK, forget children…I struggle with this as well.

Giving gifts is always fun, but quite often we want that small “thank you” to make sure that the person realizes just how “fortunate” they were that we thought of them. 🙂

Show your children that to give without any expectation in return is an even greater gift; a gift that builds their character.

The memory of giving to the “Good Lawn” guy is precious.

I wrote a small note and stuck it in the basket. We told him the nickname that we had given him and all the life lesson that he had showed our children by his hard work ethic. My kids put little notes in the basket thanking him for his beautiful lawn and flowers. And then we found a few little gifts to share – candy, a garden candle, and my daughter put in one of her dolly paraphernalia, from which I am sure he got a chuckle.

When we went to leave it on his door…(trust me that is a story by itself), he ran out as we were getting ready to drive away.

Oh no, this was not supposed to happen, but the joy that this man showered on my children will be a memory forever etched into my framework.

You would have thought he had won the lottery, and it showed my children that it truly is The Little Things that are the Big Things.

Take time this season to show your compassion for others by making simple baskets and filling them with goodies.

Leave them for others without identifying yourself: hang them on a doorknob, leave it on a desk, place is on a car seat. What a wonderful lesson for the whole family to experience ~ giving without expecting anything in return.

Remember that this is frugal living at it’s finest. A small gesture such as a flower in a basket with a note that says, “I am thinking of you,” goes farther than any dollar spent.

Another idea is THE COMPASSION TREE.

Go on a little hike with your wee ones and along the way, pick up some sticks that could be arranged into a mock tree. Place all of them in a coffee can or vase and place in a prominent place in your home. Cut out egg shapes from pretty colored paper and attach a ribbon to each one. The week before Easter, or for however long you wish, write the names of all the people you want to show compassion toward. Take time each day to stand around the compassion tree and say wonderful things about each of these people. Positive comments will go a long, long way.

(Can you believe I wrote this in April 2009? I thought it was worth a repost all these years later.)

Since our monthly family virtue is Compassion, here are the free down loadable family activity ideas that I post every month. I have included a template to make your own “Compassion (May Day)” baskets. This will enable you to take a few minutes of intentionality and truly make a difference in someone’s life.

I can’t wait to see what some of you crafty ladies do with this.

Download my monthly Compassion activities here.

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