It’s difficult to fight the overwhelming tide of advertisements encouraging us to buy, buy, buy, this holiday season. Kids are busy making their lists and checking them twice. Santa is in every mall you may be visiting.
With a conscious effort, you can, however, create a different experience by creating opportunities for your child to give this holiday season, too.
Here are some fun ideas that will teach your child that joy comes from giving as well as receiving.
Make gifts for friends and relatives - Instead of buying a gift that your kids give to Grandma or Grandpa, have the kids make a homemade gift. It will mean so much more to grandparents and the time and effort that your child puts into making the gift will make the gift much more meaningful for your child, too. Here are a two sites with fun ideas to get your started: http://spoonful.com/christmas/last-minute-christmas-gift-ideas-gallery and http://www.thecraftycrow.net/2010/12/25-gifts-kids-can-make.html
Adopt a military family - Many options exist for making donations of cash cards or toys for military personnel and their families at the holidays. This site lists a variety of agencies: http://www.operationwearehere.com/AdoptMilitaryFamily.html
Make gifts for teachers - Often times, parents buy teacher gifts or gift cards and the child isn’t even aware of the purchase. At the very least, have your child write a thoughtful card thanking the teacher for all s/he does to support students. Or perhaps you’d like to have your child make the gift. You can find ideas here for teacher gifts: http://pinterest.com/familyfunmag/
Make cookies for neighbors or the elderly. Who doesn’t like making and eating cookies? Spend one afternoon baking a variety of kid-friendly cookies. Divide up the cookies, decorate a plate and deliver the gift to someone who will enjoy receiving them. You can find festive cookie recipes here: http://pinterest.com/familyfunmag/
Go caroling - Grab a few other families and songbooks and go caroling to shut-ins.
Donate toys – To make room for the new toys that may be arriving, have your kids pick toys they currently own that can be donated to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Bring your child along to drop off the toys.
Donate food - Go grocery shopping and buy an extra bag of groceries for those in need. Call the local food shelf in your area and drop off the bag at the food shelf where someone on the staff can explain how some families don’t have enough food each month and steps that can be taken to help families who are suffering.
Serve a meal - Often times, places of worship will offer a holiday meal for the homeless. Volunteer with your family. Meeting people who are in dire straits has a much bigger impact than just sending a check.