Creative Child

Parenting: 7 Ways to Awaken the Spirit of Giving

The holidays are a fantastic time to be a kid: tasty treats, doting relatives, and of course, plenty of presents. But it’s easy for families to lose sight of what really matters amid all that boundless reveling. Help your child connect with spirit of the season by scaling back the excess and integrating giving into your celebratory routine. 

Plan a family volunteer day. Warm little hearts to the idea of giving back by organizing a volunteering field trip. It’s a meaningful way to fill the long days of winter break, but keep in mind that just a handful of charity organizations usually attract the lion’s share of holiday volunteers. (Think: Toys for Tots, Salvation Army, etc.) Instead, call up nearby animal shelters, hospitals, or care facilities and ask how children can lend a hand.


Start close to home. If the kids aren’t sold on ringing bells or ladeling soup to strangers, bring the giving lesson to their doorstep by crafting an activity they can perform right in the neighborhood. Go caroling, surprise neighbors with hand-woven wreaths, start a neighborhood toy drive, or invite an elderly neighbor for dessert.


Clean those closets. Each year, encourage your children to make way for the new by getting rid of old, broken, and outgrown playthings. Together, divide their toys into three bins marked “Keep,” “Toss,” and “Donate.” If you encounter protests, go slow, be firm, and remind your child of the importance of helping families with less.


Remember the troops! Have an age-appropriate chat with your child about the sacrifices military families make, then show your thanks by sending a holiday care package to a soldier stationed overseas. Some organizations allow you to assemble the packages yourself, while others accept monetary donations for the purpose.

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Enforce family gift budgets. Sometimes, what you don’t do matters most. If you preach the gospel of generosity and then shower your child with a glut of toys and gadgets, you’re muddying the message. Set clear expectations by helping kids concoct a realistic wish list, then scale back the Santa routine. Likewise, make sure your child doesn’t feel pressured to purchase store-bought gifts for family members.


Inspire them with giving-related stories. Awaking charity in your child doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Prime that generosity pump by picking up one of these classic better-to-give-than-receive tales:

• “The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving” by Jan and Mike Berenstain

• “Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa” by Donna L. Washington

• “The Kvetch Who Stole Hanukkah” by Susan Isakoff Berlin

parenting kids activities giving love Christmas 

Let them take the lead. Kids are often surprisingly attuned to the needs of their communities. Encourage your child to identify an unmet need, brainstorm solutions, then make a plan of action. It might be as simple as picking up garbage from the bus stop or as complex as reaching out to a less-well-to-do classmate’s family, but allowing your child to guide the giving encourages a far deeper engagement with the act.

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