6 Ways to Involve Your Children in Giving This Holiday Season

Children are born with giving hearts, and if they are taught at a young age that giving should be a part of their lives, they do so naturally and compassionately.

I have seen this with my own son who is now 8.  He began receiving an allowance at age 4, and a part of that money was always set aside for giving.  Sometimes he gives to church, but he likes to give when he sees natural disasters.  When he watched the news about the earthquake in Haiti a few years ago, he sent all of his give money to the Red Cross’ relief fund.

The Christmas season is the perfect time to instill a sense of giving in your children.  Here are some ways you can show them how to be givers:

1.  Buy a gift for a needy child.  Each year, at the local post office and some stores like Whole Foods, there are Christmas trees adorned with cards that give a child’s name, age, and preferred Christmas gift.  We choose one every year and buy a gift for the child.  I am always amazed how excited our kids get picking the gift and wrapping it.

2.  Have your child give a gift away.  Some families, overrun by gifts for their children from well-meaning friends and relatives, have their child choose one gift to give away to charity.  I haven’t done this because I am afraid it would upset the gift giver, but I know other families have had good luck with this.

3.  Sponsor a needy child.  There are many organizations where you can send money each month to a needy child, and in return, you get updates on how the child is doing and what the money is used for.  Some groups to consider include Compassion, World Vision and Child Fund.  My husband and I are planning to sponsor 3 different children, each mirroring our own children’s gender and age.  This is a great way to teach your children that not all children are as fortunate as they are as well as to understand the living situations in other countries.

4.  Visit a nursing home.  Many elderly who live in nursing homes do not have relatives who live nearby to visit them.  Make some cookies and other treats and deliver them to the nursing home.  Spend some time talking to the residents.  (Just call the nursing home ahead of time to see what time is best to visit.)

5.  Volunteer.  There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer with your child this holiday season.  You can help at your church to organize food baskets for the needy or volunteer at a soup kitchen.  One of the most famous women in the world, Princess Diana, taught her sons to be givers by visiting with AIDS patients and others.  Her boys still carry on charitable work.

6.  Have them use their money to buy gifts for their siblings.  Christmas is about giving, and one way to teach that is to have your children buy gifts for one another.  They don’t have to be expensive; it is the thought that counts.  My son spent $4 of his money to buy each of his sisters a book from his Scholastic book order.  If you have smaller children as we do, help them make a gift for their sibling.

We live in an age where the holidays can bring out the worst in people.  Just look at some of the brawls that erupted on Black Friday.  The true meaning of Christmas is about celebrating the joy of Jesus’ birth and giving to one another.  Your children are never too young to learn this lesson, and the holidays will be more joyful.

What is your favorite way to teach your children to develop a giving spirit?

About the Author

By , on Dec 7, 2012
Melissa
Melissa is a freelance writer and blogs at Mom's Plans, where she shares her family's journey to get out of debt, live a fulfilling life on less, and enjoy healthy, allergy friendly foods. She is a mom to three kids, ages 8, 4, and 2.

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{26 Comments}

  1. Good suggestion to involve kids in gift-giving during the holidays. Aside from teaching them how to be generous, they get to learn the simple acts of budgeting properly.

  2. Great tips Melissa. Every year my wife and I take our 3 kids out and do some bell ringing for the Salvation Army and it gives us a great chance to talk to them about the idea of giving to those less fortunate as us.

    • Melissa says:

      We have given to the Salvation red pot, but never worked as bell ringers. I am sure you have some interesting (and heartwarming) stories from that experience.

  3. Fantastic post. These are the types of ideas that can really help give a kid the a great view of the spirit of the holidays. I totally believe that generosity and having a giving spirit can usually enhance the lives of both the giver and the receiver.

    • Melissa says:

      Yes, Andy at Live Real Now argued that giving is “selfish” because the giver also gets something back when they give. They feel good about doing something for someone else. I think it is reciprocal relationship. Good-good.

  4. Andy Clayton says:

    I love posts like this…. This year for the first time we are sponsoring a family in the community through the salvation army. Its awesome to see my kids help shop for the ‘adopt the family’ and get excited about giving to a family in need.

  5. We don’t have any kids but if we did would certainly do many of what you talk about above. We already sponsor a family with our family member and donate gifts. I think it’ s important to teach our kids young the true meaning of the holidays. Great post mate. Mr.CBB

  6. As my baby girl grows older (she is now one and-a-half) I plan to introduce a lot of volunteer projects to her since the most precious sacrifice is time, and sooo many out there have no family and feel alone during the holidays. Volunteering and charitable work is one bonding experience I am really looking forward to sharing with my daughter.

  7. Melissa says:

    That must have been a fun day! My son is impressing me with the many homemade gifts he has been making since he doesn’t have enough money to buy for everyone on his list.

  8. Each year, we each got $10 to spend on our siblings. When we were younger, my mom would take us to the store individually and help us pick out a gift. But as we got older, she would just take us all together and let us split up in the store, or even just have us go to the store by ourselves.

  9. Mackenzie says:

    These are great tips. Christmas is definitely about giving and helping one another where we can.

  10. I think these are great tips and I plan on using #2 as a way to teach my son what the holiday’s are truly about. The holiday’s have been overrun by retailers and I think we need to take it back and teach the youth about giving.

    • Melissa says:

      One other thing we do is to limit the number of gifts actually opened on Christmas day. Our kids get so many presents from well meaning relatives that it can get overwhelming. They open about 5 presents on Christmas day, and then one a day after that. We were able to stretch out their Christmas present enjoyment almost until New Year’s Day!

  11. Great post. Last week I spent a day sorting shoeboxes filled with toys for Operation Christmas Child. It is pretty cool to see how people have filled a shoebox full of little trinkets to send a little love to a child they do not know.

    • Melissa says:

      Thank you for mentioning this organization. Every year I think I should do this, but we haven’t yet. I’ll start setting aside things now so we can make a shoebox next year.

  12. I love this post. Christmas really should be about giving, not receiving. I think you will be a wonderful parent one day!

  13. Pauline says:

    When I was a kid we used to go to an orphanage and bring some toys for the kids. We would stay the whole afternoon and play with them. It is a great memory.

  14. Thad P says:

    Really a great reminder about the importance of actually teaching about giving and practicing it. Marketing turns Christmas in to a material holiday, but the meaning is much much deeper. The greatest Gift given by the Greatest Giver.

  15. Great ideas Melissa! We do #2 & #4 quite a bit. I agree that fostering that giving in children’s heart is a great thing to do at their young age so as to develop it further.

    • Melissa says:

      Exactly. When you start these practices when kids are young, it becomes normal for them. (Which I prefer over the commercialized Christmas retailers would like us to have.)

  16. Melissa, great tips and in true spirit of Christmas. Giving a gift during holidays to a child in need will help get a smile to their faces as well.

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