On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me! Wait…. it’s the season of giving why are we talking about what someone gave us? Let’s refocus for a minute. We plan the perfect gifts all year long for those we love and our children make lists of things they’d love to receive. But what about those most in need? How do we give back to those less fortunate in our communities while we are full of holiday spirit? How do we teach our children to be aware of how some people have less? How do we explain that it’s important to be caring and not just of our own, while we celebrate? The best way in my mind is to do acts of kindness all through the season.
So here are my suggestions for 12 days of Christmas giving.
Below are some ideas on how to teach our children to give back to our communities and keep the village feeling merry and bright.
Day 1: Start small. Say thank you.
The Thank You Project was started by a local group called People People. It aims to bring smiles to people just by saying THANK YOU. Saying thank you and complimenting someone while they do their job can change someone’s day. Have you ever worked in retail? It’s not always an easy job at holiday time.
Make sure you express thanks to those in service positions while you are shopping and tell someone when they are doing a good job. Teaching our children to do this makes little inroads to the world around us being a kinder place.
Day 2: Volunteer
So many ways to give back and keep the holiday spirit alive. Maybe you want to help the homeless by preparing them meals or gathering food. Or maybe you love animals; There is a huge need for volunteers to walk dogs, clean cages, or just play with some kittens at animal shelters. You could help families at the Ronald McDonald House by baking things to welcome them as they go through the hardship of having a child with a life threatening illness.
There are so many places to give back with your time. Try this link for finding somewhere to give your time, the most valuable resource you have this year. You can also check out our list of places to give back with during this holidays season.
Day 3: Donate
Maybe you don’t have the extra time to volunteer. Between all of the preparations creating a perfectly magical Christmas it can feel like one too many things on your to-do list. You can always donate. To include your kids, talk to them about what kind of things they care about most, just like volunteering.
Whether it’s $5 or $500, it makes a difference to every organization. Non-profits are just that – not profitable – and that means they need help. Research is important before giving monetary gifts, but it can be what they need most. Help your child choose what they would like to donate to?
Day 4: Toy drives
Your child loves toys right? That makes them an expert on how to choose for other children! There are so many churches and schools collecting for toy drives. Even some Walgreens do it! Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll see them almost everywhere.
Let your child be the one to take the lead on what they would like to give to another child this Christmas. Toys for Tots is always a reliable place to drop off your gift.
Day 5: Write a letter
Nope not to Santa! To those people who make the greatest impacts in our lives. Does Grandma always pick you up from school? Have them tell her how amazing she is. Is your Principal just incredible and really rocks every year? Write them a letter! Sing their praises! Thank you Jesus we’ve got a great people in our lives.
If your child is too young to write, YOU can always write a lovely note. Have them scribble on it, and add a gift card to Starbucks because who doesn’t need more caffeine?
Day 6 Sing a song
The best way to spread holiday cheer is singing loud for all to hear. Buddy the Elf is so right. You know who needs cheer most? Our elderly who often don’t have anyone cheering them up at this time of year. Assisted living communities love when kids come to visit and singing brightens everyone’s day.
Day 7: Food is how we show love
Bake something for someone! Bring a neighbor some cookies baked with love. Everyone loves cookies. I mean I’d like some right now. Baked with love is absolutely a thing.
Day 8: Take notice & make a call
Every year there is people who suffer from depression around the holidays. Make sure you are checking in. Make a phone call to anyone who know who has suffered a loss this year and that will have a hard holiday season. Make sure they don’t feel alone.
Day 9: Bring a friend home
Find out who doesn’t have family around during the holidays. I know because my family is on the east coast so I was so happy to receive an invitation to a friend’s Thanksgiving celebration. This goes double for Christmas and other holiday celebrations. Have your children hand make an invitation for a friend who might be alone on festive days.
Day 10: Costco trip for the homeless!
A great way to help the homeless is giving out packs of water, tooth paste, tooth brushes, and warm socks. You can add female sanitary items like pads and tampons to half. The hardest thing for people to take care of when homeless is their hygiene. Help a brother or sister out.
Day 11: Foster a pet
During and right after the holiday season there is an uptick in pets who need homes. Fostering a pet can teach your child about how not every animal is your family member but they all deserve homes. Taking in a pet and then having it find a home is a heart warming growth experience for any family.
Day 12: Make a list. Check it twice.
Take time with your child to talk about whom they want to give gifts to most. Who they think is kindest and deserves their love and time. Who is important to your family. Let them take the lead on whom to give to. It doesn’t have to be a big list, but it’s important we listen to the people they think are important. Remind them that quality time and the thought of a gift are much more important than anything we can buy. Because at the end of the day the memories we make are all we have.
Are there ways you are teaching your kids to give back this holiday season? If so comment below!