“What do you want for Christmas?” It is a question that many children are asked repeatedly throughout the Christmas season. Catalogs come in the mail. Toys and extra merchandise fill store aisles. Pictures are taken with Santa Claus and holiday parties abound. So, how do we teach children about giving when much of the season focuses children’s attention on receiving?
Here are a few ideas to help children get into the spirit of giving.
- Make them part of the gift giving process – In previous years, my family always picked names of the children of the family and bought gifts for them. This is probably pretty typical of many extended families. However, last year we started a new tradition. Each child picked the name of an adult and had to MAKE a gift for that adult. Not only did this teach the child about giving, it also made them more aware of the interests of the adults in their lives and taught them that not every gift has to come from a store. Overall, the first year was a success with painted rocks, ornaments, a joke book, paintings and shadow boxes made from cereal containers!
- Let them earn money to buy their own gifts – Children love to go to the store and pay with their own money! If children are young or even older, but not old enough to work a real job, let them earn money through chores to buy their own presents. In previous years, after the kids earned their money, we took them to the dollar store to pick out the gifts for their siblings and their parents. They loved picking out their own gifts and wrapping them too!
- Decorate cookies to give away – We all love sweets during the holidays and most of us probably eat too many sweets as well! Let your kids decorate cookies and choose who they want to receive their cookies!
- Give to charity or volunteer – There are so many ways to give to charity during the holidays! Participating in a charity brings awareness to the world around us and teaches children that there are others that have needs that are maybe not being met. Giving trees, food pantries, soup kitchens, Toys for Tots, Salvation Army kettles and Adopt a Family programs are just a few ways that your family can give during the holiday season.
- Spread the Joy – Not every gift has to come in a package. Consider caroling with your family, taking cookies to an elderly neighbor or having your child make Christmas cards for family and friends. Just visiting with friends or calling a family member during the holiday season can bring a smile to someone’s face.
So make this season a season of giving! It will make your children happier and bring your family closer together! Merry Christmas and happy holidays… for whatever holiday you celebrate!