The excitement of the holidays often brings out a message of “me me me” with our kids. Instead of focusing on ourselves, we think that the holiday season is the perfect time to reinforce the message of giving. Over the next several week, Early Steps will provide lists of activities to encourage your family to embrace the spirit of giving and the importance of helping others in need.
1. Involve the kids in gift giving
Give each child a short list of family members to either make something for or buy something small for. Often local churches have a kids sale in which kids can go buy small items for a dollar or two. If shopping in a store, explain to them ahead of time what the budget is and that they may have to put something back if it is out of the price range. Stress the importance of thoughtfulness, not the amount of money spent. Handmade presents such as cookies, cards, ornaments, or coupons to help with chores can allow your kids an opportunity to put creativity, effort, and thoughtfulness into giving.
2. Give items or time to those in need
2. Buy clothing, food and gifts for families in need. You can find plenty of opportunities to help through your church, school, and local charity organizations. Have your kids help select, wrap and deliver the items. Explain to your kids that it is our job as neighbors to help people through challenging times. Or if buying items doesn’t fit in your budget this year, give of your time. Find a food pantry that you can volunteer at with your children. Take your kids caroling at a elderly care home. Or make cards for children spending their time in the hospital over the holidays.
3. Spending time with people who are without friends & family
There is no better way to spend your time over the Holidays then to spend it with others. Consider reaching out to those that may not have family or friends to spend the holidays with. You could invite an elderly neighbor over or go for a visit, take a church member to brunch after church, or invite neighbors without a place to go to your holiday meal. Talk to your kids about recognizing those that may need a friend and opening your heart to making them feel loved.
4. Slow down gift opening
Take turns opening gifts on Christmas. Each family member opens one gift and then waits until everyone else has opened a gift before it is his or her turn again. This allows everyone to see what the rest of the family received, it slows down the present frenzy, gets kids more excited about each gift, not just the biggest one, and teaches patience and respect.
5. Start a giving tradition
5. The night before Christmas each person is allowed to open one small gift from the family. It is a nice tradition and again reinforces patience and appreciation for everything we get … even pajamas!
6. Establish gift limits
If you are Christian and celebrate Christmas, a great idea I have heard is that each child gets 3 gifts (can still do stocking stuffers, a family gift, etc…), representing the number of gifts baby Jesus is given by the three wise men. Setting a realistic number of gifts helps families to focus on what is important during the holidays and keeps parents from going overboard.
Tips are taken from a great article by Julie Smith entitled, Parenting 101: Teaching Kids the Spirit of Giving – Holiday Lessons on the Importance of Charity, and great advice from other parents throughout the years.
Have ideas or traditions from your family? Please share below!