It’s Giving Tuesday, a reminder that the holidays are a great time to teach kids about generosity. Learning that giving goes beyond buying presents for loved ones and includes helping those in need can be an eye-opening experience for children. Even better, doing something to help others as a family can bring your family closer together and allows your children to see you modeling generous behavior. Here are 15 ways your family can serve others this holiday season while spending quality time together.
1. Bake Something Sweet For Those Who Serve Your Community
Who doesn’t love baking during the holidays? The whole family can get involved and have fun with it. Take a day to bake some cookies and deliver them to your local fire station, police station, or hospital. If your delivery is on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, employees working away from their families will be especially appreciative.
2. Send Christmas Cards to Deployed Service Members
Military personnel can always use words of encouragement, love, and support, especially during the holiday season when they are away from their families. Sit down with your kids and write holiday cards to those who serve our country. You can make it extra fun by including stamps or stickers for your kids to decorate the cards with. And while you’re decorating, explain how the service members you are writing to serve our country.
3. Prepare a Meal and Deliver It to a Friend In Need
Do you have a friend that you know will be alone during the holidays, or who could use some extra support and love during this holiday season? Why not have the family prepare a meal for them and deliver it together? Even the youngest kids can get involved by making cards or other decorations, and even a socially distant outdoor visit could make the recipient’s day.
4. Clean Out Your Coat Closet and Take Gently Used Coats to a Local Charity
Do you have any outerwear you’re no longer using? Show your kids that you don’t need as much as you think and that your extras can help those who have no other place to get things they may take for granted. If your budget allows, you can also sponsor a family in need and buy them brand new winter coats.
5. Leave a Hand-made Christmas Card In Your Mailbox for the Mail Carrier
The holidays are a peak season for mail carriers, who have shouldered an extra burden this year on top of the service that’s so easy to take for granted all year long. A hand-made Christmas card (maybe even with a little baked treat for a personal touch) can cheer up these hectic days. It’s a great way to show your kids the importance of noticing when someone does a job well and thanking them for their hard work.
6. Pick a Day To Help Each Other
We often go about our day-to-day routines without thanking our family members for all the things they do for us. Show your kids the importance of gratitude for the ones we love by helping each other out. Encourage your children to help their siblings clean their rooms, give some extra help with household chores, and show appreciation for one another. You could assign each child another family member to help for the day or assign each family member a part of the house to look after.
7. Donate Books to Your Local Library
Encourage your kids to sit down and go through the books they no longer read as much as they used to, or those that they have outgrown. Donate them to your local library or homeless shelter, or add them to your neighborhood’s Little Free Library.1 You and your kids can spend some time reminiscing about your kids’ favorite books as you choose the ones to give to others in your community.
8. Donate Non-Perishable Items to the Food Pantry
Showing your kids the importance of giving to those in need doesn’t have to be very time-consuming; you can fit it into your usual family errands. At the grocery store during the holidays with your kids? Pick up some extra food and drop it off at your local food pantry. Or have your kids contribute to a family cash gift to a local food bank, where your money will go further. (The Greater Cleveland Food Bank, which serves more than 1,000 institutions and food pantries, reports that every dollar they receive “can help provide enough food for 4 nutritious meals.”)2
9. Go Caroling at a Local Nursing Home or Assisted Living Center
Seniors are often very lonely during the holidays. Show your kids the meaning of providing company and joy to those who don’t have many loved ones around them during the holidays by arranging a visit to a nursing home, assisted living center, or senior center to sing carols. If you can’t go in person, perhaps they have a system in place using Zoom or Skype for virtual visits with their residents.
10. Give Baked Goods to Your Neighbors
When you’re making your traditional holiday treats with your family, doubling your recipe to make extra for sharing with your neighbors. They’ll love it, and your kids will enjoy making more treats too!
11. Pick a Child’s Name off of a Giving Tree and Shop for the Gift Together
Have your kids choose a child’s name from a giving tree and shop for a gift together. Explain that the present you’re picking out might be the only holiday gift that that girl or boy receives this year; it’s OK to be happy about what we receive, and it’s important to think of others, too.
12. Encourage More Please and Thank Yous
This one may seem simple, but it’s very meaningful. The holiday season is a tough time for lots of people; it’s especially important to show courtesy. Encourage your kids to say please and thank you more often and to give genuine compliments to those around them.
13. Take Gifts to Your Local Hospital
Individuals who are in the hospital during the holidays would really appreciate a little cheering up from you and your family. See if the Patient Relations office will accept small gift baskets, maybe with a homemade baked treat. You can’t deliver them yourself this year, but maybe your local hospital can take care of the distribution.
14. Volunteer to Read a Christmas Book to Your Child’s Class
Check with your child’s teachers to see if you can Zoom or Skype into class to read a favorite book. It shows your child the importance of doing something to help because you can, not because you have to.
Whatever you decide to do, remember that the most valuable gift any of us can give is our time. And time spent with your family in service to others helps your kids see the importance of generosity in our lives.
Be sure to join us for our webinar, Preparing for a Layoff, rescheduled to December 9 at 7:00 PM EST. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot, and please feel free to invite friends and family who may be interested.