During the holiday season, it is easy for children to get caught up in the “give me” or “I want” moments. It’s entirely natural for them to be focused on the excitement of presents that come along with the holidays, but this can also be a time to illustrate the joy of not only receiving, but giving as well. Taking the time to demonstrate and teach your children the true meaning of the season will allow them to discover the personal satisfaction that comes along with getting involved and helping others.
Ways for your child to give:
- Give Clothes. Have your children look through their closets and dresser drawers to find gently-used clothes that they no longer wear or do not fit into anymore. Give these clothes to organizations, such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army or other local thrift stores. Discuss with your children about how the winter season can leave many people cold and in need of warm clothes and blankets. Every little item that your child gives is helpful.
- Give Toys. Have your children collect their toys, books and stuffed animals that they no longer play with. Although your son or daughter is looking forward to receiving new presents this holiday, there are many children that are not as fortunate. Help your children see that a beloved toy that once gave them so much joy can now bring happiness to another young boy or girl. These items can also be given to places such as a local children’s home, Goodwill or the Salvation Army.
- Give Food. Your children as well as yourself can go through the pantry and kitchen cabinets to find different canned foods and boxed food items that you can give to a local shelter. If you have older children, consider taking them directly to the pantry and helping unload the food and stock the shelves. Holidays are a wonderful time for feasting and over-indulging; use this opportunity to demonstrate the need not only throughout the world, but also close to home.
- Give Time. Your children can give some of their time to help elderly neighbors or family members with decorating for the holidays, wrapping presents, shoveling snow or other projects/tasks throughout the house. Older children can also give their time by volunteering at organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, soup kitchens, making meals for Ronald McDonald’s House or animal shelters. Speak with your children and allow them to take ownership in deciding on how and where they think they can help by using their talents to brighten someone’s day.
- Give Holiday Cards and Crafts. Have your children create holiday cards and crafts. You and your children can deliver the holiday cards and crafts to a local nursing home or children’s hospital. Show your son or daughter that a “gift” doesn’t necessarily have to cost a lot of money in order to be appreciated. No matter the cost of a gift or if the gift is purchased from a store, the best presents are those that come from the heart.
- Give Money. You and your children can choose an organization that you would like to donate money to. Selecting an organization that grows and provides food for families, saves endangered animals, builds homes for families or no kill animal shelters are just a few organizations that you may donate to. Deciding on an organization that is close to your family’s heart will help make the gesture more meaningful.
We are all guilty of losing sight of the true meaning of the holiday season. Use this time to teach your children that it is more important to give than just receive. Volunteering and donating as a family is a wonderful bonding experience as well as a way to demonstrate the importance of helping others. It does not take much to spread the holiday spirit. Remind our children that the holidays are so much more than getting the latest toy or video game. With commitment, these are qualities and traits that your children will begin to demonstrate all year long.