The holidays are about so much more than Santa, presents and sparkly lights. The true meaning of Christmas is about celebrating Christ through love and giving to others. With so many tragedies in our world today, teaching our children how to give back is more important than ever.
While my goal in life is to raise my children to be good people, I also have to admit that I tend to spoil them. I just cannot resist seeing the joy on their faces when I bring home a new toy for no reason at all! With this in mind, I also talk to them often about those less fortunate. This is not easy to explain to a 3.5 and 6 year-old who have never gone without in their lives but still so important.
For this reason, I have decided to put together a list of ways to give back that are child-friendly during the holiday season, although many of these can be done year round.
- CLEAN OUT THE PLAYROOM: This is usually something that I have to do when the kids are out of site, or they will throw a fit that their toys (that usually have not been played with in at least a year) are being donated. But with Christmas around the corner, and the promise of new toys coming, it is currently a little easier. Places to donate used toys and books include:
- Re-sell charities such as Goodwill or Salvation Army
- Local shelters or Children Centers
- Local pre-schools or nurseries
- Church Charities
- DONATE TO A FOOD BANK: My children love this. We make a special trip to the store and stock up on canned goods and other non-perishables. There are food donation bins all over during the holidays so it is not difficult to find one, or you can go to your local church to donate.
- BAKE COOKIES: This is a fun activity to do with kids. They will also really enjoy passing their homemade treats out at police stations or fire stations.
- DONATE OUTGROWN COATS: Last years coats don’t fit anymore, so teaching our children to give them a new home to someone in need in this colder weather is a great way to give back. There are several coat donation charities in your area. Check out One Warm Coat for locations.
- DONATE NEW TOYS: Taking the kids to Target to pick out a couple of toys to make another child’s Christmas special can be a lot of fun! Some incentive that works is that Santa is watching, and he just may bring them the same toys on Christmas. There are many places that will take new, unwrapped toys, including Toys For Tots
- PACK STOCKINGS FOR THOSE IN NEED: Find inexpensive stockings (the dollar store is great) and stuff them with necessities. Include energy bars, water bottles, gloves and toothbrush/toothpaste and hand them out to homeless people.
- SNACKS FOR DELIVERY DRIVERS: Delivering those packages is a lot of work. I am sure the drivers would love to grab a snack or a water with a bow on it from our little ones.
- MAKE AND SEND HOLIDAY CARDS TO ACTIVE MILITARY MEMBERS: Through the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program, our kids can “Give Something That Means Something” by sending cards to active service members, veterans and their families. This is so sweet and lets kids be creative.
- INVITE AN ELDERLY FRIEND TO DINNER: The holidays can be lonely for those who live alone or don’t have family around. Invite someone to dinner and have the kids help cook the meal. Delivering a meal is also a nice way to show someone they are thought of.
- LOVING HUGS OR STUFFED ANIMALS FOR EMERGENCIES: Both Loving Hugs and Stuffed Animals for Emergencies give stuffed toys to kids in crisis situations, whether it’s a natural disaster or while taking an ambulance ride. This is something that my children can understand because everyone needs a friend in times of crisis and despair.
I look forward to sharing our personal experiences as we check these experiences off our holiday lists. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I look forward to reading how you like to give back during the holidays, or anytime. Kid-friendly experiences always a plus.