As Christmas time approaches, a lot of parents feel the stress of meeting their little ones expectations around Christmas Gifts.
We both feel that having our children involved in giving back from an early age is very important, but it can be difficult based on their age and understanding. So here are some ideas and tips to help get you and your family into the spirit of giving.
1. Operation Christmas Child (Samaritans Purse)
This is an amazing idea and super easy to involve the entire family, no matter the age. You can go to their website to find box pick up locations, or use your own shoe box. Then you can fill them up with little toys, school and hygiene items (make sure the check the list for your country allowance). Include a few dollars for shipping and drop it off. http://www.samaritanspurse.org/
At a young age it's hard for children to go into a store full of toys and colourful items and not ask for things. Some will end up in tears because they are not getting anything. Don't let this test your patience, they just don't understand yet. Have a game plan and talk with them about what you are doing before you go in. At a certain age, they should be able to understand what is expected of them. However, if they are too young in your eyes to quite understand and you are going to the dollar store, maybe plan to let them choose one small treat for a dollar.
2. Food bank/Soup Kitchen
This is a great way to have them help with their hands, going into your community and having them actually participate. Appropriate for children older than 5 years old. Helping others, is an incredible social skill that we need to start early with our kids.
They are still young, so take into account that they will get tired or bored quickly. Set a time limit and discuss it with your child. If you notice that the mood is changing, accept that they did some great work, praise them for it and head home. You want to avoid creating a negative feeling for them around it this experience.
3. Run/Walk For Charity
Great experience for kids over 6, unless you can push them in a jogger stroller, then the entire family can run (Weather dependent). Create a family or mama tribe team and get out for a Christmas Run! As a team raise money for the cause and make sure educate your little ones on what you are raising the money for.
The family has to be in the mood for this run! So make sure that everyone is in on the idea. Sometimes there are family races for short distances, or walks etc. Make sure that you choose what is best for your team. Make sure to pack lots of snacks and water if you have a little one in the stroller. If anyone is tired or not into the run/walk half way through, that is OK! Remind them that you loved that they participated and that is all that matters!
4. Angel Tree/ Secret Santa Drop Off
A lot of churches and local community groups will have angel trees set up, or a secret santa box you can donate to. Have your little ones choose an Angel (per a child or family) and go as a family to purchase the gifts, wrap them and drop them off. It's great for kids to know that they are helping another little girl or boy have a beautiful Christmas as well and understand that there are families that are less fortunate out there.
If your little ones still believe in Santa, this might be a difficult one to explain so it might work better for older kids. If the child is older and has an allowance this is a great time to help them understand about giving back and donating some of their money to help others. They could even pitch in on some of the cost to buy the gift(s).
5. 25 Days of Giving Back
This is such a FUN idea and you can find ideas online or create your own calendar for your family. It can be simple tasks such as giving a card to Grandma and Grandpa, or something like baking a small treat for the postman!
Try to make the ideas fun for each day. This really helps your child to consciously do something kind for others everyday.