A favorite question for most kids is “What do you want for Christmas?”. More often than not if they’re older they want the latest phone or video game. If younger, the latest toy. Catalogs, commercials, and store displays make “wanting” so easy. It can sometimes be difficult for children to grasp the concept of giving rather than receiving. Here’s a list of ways you and your children can give back this holiday season.
Soup Kitchen: Many soup kitchens allow families to help serve food and clean up. Not only will your children be able to see that there are many hungry people in their own community, but perhaps it will help them place an even greater value on their own food.
Food Pantry: Speaking of food, now is a great time to go through your pantry together as a family and collect any unused items to take to your local food pantry. You could also set a budget and go to the grocery store together to buy canned goods and other non-perishable items to donate.
Make Bags for the Homeless: Last year one of my friends organized a collection to benefit a local homeless shelter. Our family chose to donate two bags so that each of our children were responsible for putting a bag together. Items included hats, gloves, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, body wash and of course, a handmade holiday card.
Toy drive: This can be a tough one for kids to wrap their heads around. The big question is often, “but why doesn’t Santa bring toys to all kids?”. An easy way around this is to have a conversation about all of the gifts your children receive from other friends and relatives and then explain to them that some children do not have large families or enough money to spend on gifts.
Sponsor a Family with an Illness: Often families that are dealing with illness are too stricken with grief, medical bills and doctor’s appointments to have time to enjoy the holidays. Offer to do anything from decorating to providing meals to holiday shopping. Help take their burdens away so that they can enjoy the holiday with their family.
Pay it Forward at the Drive Thru: This one is so simple and so fun. Simply pay for the person behind you (at a restaurant, a tollbooth, etc.) It will put a smile on someone’s face and holiday spirit in their heart.
Bake cookies for your neighbors: Our four year old loves to bake for our neighbors, and not just around the holidays! Good thing, because otherwise we would eat them all! While you’re doing your holiday baking this season, add a few extra dozen for neighbors and relatives.
Donate to a Charity: Have your children choose a charity that they would like to donate to. Then either have them contribute their own money or have them contribute by doing chores and earning an allowance that they can then donate.
Visit a Hospital/Nursing Home: Many hospitals (including children’s hospitals) and nursing homes have programs in place to adopt a patient or a “grandparent”. Have your children select or create small gifts for the individual and then deliver them together.
Take Items to an Animal Shelter: People aren’t the only ones who could use your help this holiday season. Often animal shelters are looking for donations like blankets, towels, toys, food, paper towels and even affection. Just be prepared, you may end up with a pet, lol!
I hope these suggestions help your kids understand the importance of giving as well as receiving. The holidays should be enjoyed by everybody. When you teach your children to give back you’re teaching them how to bring joy to the world!