Editor's note: This post was originally published December 1, 2012.
The holidays are a time for giving, but it’s a hard lesson to teach kids who are eagerly awaiting a stash of presents. Not everyone has the money or resources to volunteer or make charitable contributions. Even if you do, it’s hard to find volunteer spots that are appropriate for younger kids, and it’s even harder to engage kids in a cash donation. Here are five simple ideas for low-cost things you can do as a family to spread the holiday cheer and teach your kids the meaning of the season.
- Make ornaments or gifts for a local senior center or hospital. Be sure to call first and make arrangements and don’t forget to ask about restrictions they may have around materials (food items, glitter, etc.).
- Make holiday cards for the troops.
- Gather clothes that don’t fit and donate them to charity.
- Have the kids set aside toys they no longer play with. It can be difficult to donate old toys, but you can often sell them on Craigslist or eBay. Take the money and either sponsor a family for Christmas or donate it to a charity.
- Roll up your spare change and buy food to give to a local food bank. Let the kids choose what to buy. This one doubles as a math lesson as you sort/count the change and budget for what to purchase!
Remember, this is meant to be a family exercise. Let your kids take the lead as much as possible based on their age and ability. Don’t forget to talk about why you’re giving your time and who you’re trying to help. When you’re done, discuss the experience as a family. Ask your kids for other ideas they have for helping out others.
Does your family do something special to help your kids understand the meaning of the holidays?