The Christmas spirit is still going strong around my house. I didn’t have time to share these ideas before Christmas but I’m hoping they will make it to your Pinterest boards and be there ready and waiting when next advent rolls around.
So much of a child’s experience of Christmas in America is around receiving gifts. There is no denying that it is truly delightful to watch a child’s eyes light up with the arrival of a long desired special toy. But we tend to underestimate the joy that our kids can experience by giving gifts as well. We adults know far better the anticipation of watching a loved one open a gift that we have worked hard to bring them. Our kids can participate in the satisfaction of giving too and the more we practice the more pleasure they will find in it. Below is a list of some ideas that we did in my family or that our friends did this year.
A Giving Party:
It has become popular among adults to gather together for fundraisers or to even use one’s birthday as a chance to raise money for a good cause. But these sorts of events usually require that the kids stay home with a babysitter. This year we decided to get our kids together and have them make a simple gift they could give away themselves. They all brought ingredients for a trail mix. We read A Baker’s Dozen,
which is a story about generosity and St. Nicholas. Then they mixed their ingredients and assembled gift bags. Each child made three bags. They also had a chance to make a card or label and choose who they were going to give their bag to. It was a simple idea and both kids and parents enjoyed it. There are so many different types of giving parties the possibilities are endless.
Buy a Gift for a Stranger:
Around the holidays there are always opportunities to buy gifts for a stranger. Talk to your local foster home, family shelter or other social service agency and they often have lists of children and adults who won’t have anyone buying for them. Take your child along, encourage them even to spend some of their own money towards picking out something really special for someone they don’t know.
A Nursing Home Visit:
My daughter and I took candy canes to a nursing home this year on St. Nicholas day (growing up this was always a day that we did a church service project so I wanted to maintain the tradition). It took essentially zero preparation we just showed up with a smile and had a wonderful time visiting with the residents. It was a good reminder that even little kids who can’t do much in the way of work can offer a lot just through their presence. This is something we are hoping to start doing with our moms group a few times throughout the year.
A Secret Secret Santa:
One of my daughter’s friends brought over an unexpected gift. His mom had written the names of their friends on slips of paper and had them each draw one. The kids then got to pick out a gift for their person. There was no gift for them in return just the fun of delivering a surprise package to a friend.
Include Kids in Shopping:
It may be as simple as bringing a child along to shop for a sibling or parent. Or encourage them to save a few dollars and purchase a thoughtful gift on their own.
Random Gifts for Neighbors:
Another friend had her kids assemble small gift bags mostly of candy and cookies that had begun accumulating around the house. Once they had 15 or so bags they went door to door knocking and introducing themselves to neighbors, many of whom they had never met before and passing out the gifts. It was a simple way to connect with new people and spread some Christmas cheer.
Making Gifts at Home:
Including kids in the creation of gifts is one of the best ways to get them excited about giving. If they are small they can make a card or drawing. As they get older they can create ornaments and all sorts of handicrafts. Getting started on these early in the year is key so that a child actually has time to finish a gift themselves.
What else have you done to encourage your kids to give around the holidays or any other time of year?