As we spoil our kids with their favorite items on their “Santa List” we also want to teach them that there is more to the holiday season than gifts and goodies. Since our boys were very young we tried to make the holiday season more about the spirit of giving and the importance of family traditions rather than material things. I’m not going to lie, it can be a challenge at times, especially in the world we live in now. It can be done with smiling faces and in the end our hearts are full of love for others and gratitude for the blessings in our life. The holidays are a wonderful time to teach children the importance of giving back. So, I’ve got 10 ways to help children give back throughout the holidays and really anytime of year. I hope these ideas will inspire you and your family.
10 Ways to Help Children Give Back Throughout the Holidays
DONATE – We can all find something that we don’t want or need anymore. This season we did something new with our Elves on the Shelf (we have 2). When they came back from the North Pole they brought with them 2 baskets, one for each of the boys. In their note they mentioned how the boys were getting older and how giving back to others would be a great way to start off the holidays season. So each night the boys need to place one item in their basket for Elfie and Chris to take back with them to the North Pole. It could be a gently used toy, a piece of clothing that doesn’t fit or book that they are finished reading. Every morning the basket it empty and the elves write a Thank You note letting the boys know how much they appreciate their donation.
BAKE GOODIES – We love to play in the kitchen and one of our favorite things to do during the holidays is bake cookies. We make dozens that we give to neighbors, teachers, postal works, crossing guards and even our UPS driver. You can even attach a personalize card to go with it.
GIVE TO YOUR FAVORITE CHARITY – As a family you can think of a charity that near and dear to your heart. Pull your money together and make a donation in your child’s name. This is a great way to teach your child about the different charities and how they can help others in all sorts of ways. We like to focus on local charities in our area so we can personally go and deliver the donation when possible.
SALVATION ANGEL TREE – The Salvation Army Angel Tree program has been around for years, I remember doing this with my family when I was a child. This year my son participated in this program through his school. We were given a stocking to fill with gifts for a child. He was able to choose the sex and age of the child that he wanted to buy for. Since he always wanted a little sister he chose a girl age 5-8 years old. He had a blast finding fun and useful things for her, and I have to say I got pretty excited too.
SEND LETTERS – My oldest just recently found out about the real meaning of Santa. After many tears he decided that he would be the next Santa to our neighbors. He has been working on making personalized letters from “Santa” and attaching Christmas cookies to each one. He will be delivering 36 letters on Christmas eve wishing everyone on our street a Merry Christmas.
MAKE A MEAL – Know of a neighbor or friend that is sick or doesn’t have family near? Make them a homemade meal to brighten their spirits. Don’t forget to throw in some of those holiday cookies.
DONATE OR VOLUNTEER AT A SOUP KITCHEN – This is the busiest time of the year for soup kitchens. Call a few local chapters to see what they are in need of. You can either take your child to the grocery store to pick out some items or even clean out your pantry of unwanted items. Many soup kitchens are in need of volunteers because of the cold weather and holidays. Ask about volunteering options and how children can be apart of it too.
HELP FURRY FRIENDS – Don’t forget about the pets during the holidays season. Find a local shelter in your area that is accepting donations, normally they have a list on their website. Set up a time to deliver the goodies and you might even have a chance to play with some kittens or walk some dogs. Who knows, you could even have a new family member coming home with you.
SPORTS GIFTS – With two boys in many different sports and the fact that they grow like weeds we are constantly in need of new gear. Instead of selling it to make a few bucks we donate it to children in need. We found Sports Gift that we can donate gently used gear to impoverished and disadvantaged children throughout the world that would normally not have the chance to play a sport.
BE A SHINING LIGHT – Sometimes good old grace and courtesy goes a long way. Encourage your child to say Thank You, open the door for others, give compliments and just be kind not just during the holidays but throughout the year.
Make giving a family affair and include your child in the process of how the family gives back this holiday season. It’s also important that kids know why they are doing it and not just going through the motions. Young children may not fully understand, but they will understand that they are helping especially if you give them a little encouragement and appreciation along the way. No matter how big or small their gestures are they should know whatever they did was amazing.
This post was created as part of my ongoing partnership with Stonyfield Yogurt. As always, all opinions are 100% mine.