As the holidays approach it can be easy to get swept up in the gifts and happy chaos of the season. Children learn the receiving end young and it’s wonderful to hear their sheer delight as the rip open presents and ask for another candy cane. Yet teaching children about the giving side of the holidays can be a challenge in the busy days that fill December. I believe the best way to teach anything is through experiences. Here are FIVE ideas for things you can do with your kids to give to others. Whether giving to a neighbor, friend or stranger the feeling of helping others will be another gift you can give to your children.
ONE: Love Your Neighbor
Have your kids help you make cookies or a fruit basket and take it to a neighbor, maybe one you don’t know very well. This is the perfect chance to show someone kindness and love.
TWO: Food For The Needy
Plan a shopping trip to the grocery store when you have little on your personal list. Let your kids carry a basket or push a little cart. Tell them to help choose healthy items to fill the basket/cart with. Explain that you will drop them off a local food pantry after purchasing and it will go to people who are hungry and in need. Kids will love being in charge of the items and begin to see beyond themselves and their family. For older kids you can give them a spending limit and a calculator for an added lesson on budgeting.
THREE: Shovel Away
Perfect for older kids, tweens or teens. Encourage them to shovel a neighbors driveway at the next snow. I can remember one bitter cold winter day when I was home with a baby and a toddler and a kind neighbor shoveled for me….it meant the world to a sleep deprived mom! It may be a thankless job but I guarantee it will not go unappreciated.
FOUR: Christmas Card Time
Buy an extra box of holiday cards and have your children write in them or draw pictures. Wishing the recipient a happy holidays. You can donate the finished cards to a nursing home or senior living center. Most places gladly except cards to give to those who don’t receive cards. Many people in senior or nursing care no longer have close family members to send them holiday greetings. These cards will brighten their day!
FIVE: Animals Need Love Too
Even if you don’t have a pet pick up a container of cat or dog food to donate to the Humane Society. Your kids will love helping with this if it means getting to visit animals. Depending on the weather, many times they need volunteers to help walk dog or play with the cats too. Helping animals in need will be a wonderful experience for you and your kids.