I love this time of year. I love the lights, the decorations, and the way everything tastes like peppermint. It’s a time for snow, reading by the fire, and spending time with the people you love. As parents, we also noticed it was a time when our children became consumed by “stuff.”
We didn’t want our kids to view the holidays as merely a time to collect new toys. We wanted our kids to associate the holidays with giving, love, and kindness. To help foster a spirit of kindness during the holidays (that will hopefully translate to year-round kindness!) we developed a Kindness Advent Calendar.
We put a spin on a traditional advent calendar by using each day between December 1st and Christmas as opportunities to practice kindness. Every morning, the kids pull a link off of our traditional red and green paper chain and read the daily act of kindness. It’s so much fun to see them get excited about serving and loving others.
To make a Kindness Advent Calendar, simply cut lengths of red and green construction paper. (You can use fancy scrapbook paper if you want to dress it up!) Write down one act of kindness on each strip of paper. Fold each strip of paper into a loop, keeping the writing on the inside and secure with a staple or small piece of tape. Link the next paper loop through the first. Use one loop for each day.
This activity is very easily modified to suit your family’s needs, time, budget, beliefs, etc. Kindness can be practiced in thousands of ways. Choose the ideas that work for your family or come up with your own. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Have fun practicing kindness this holiday season.
- Give someone a hug
- Do one of your sibling’s chores
- Do your chores/something helpful without being asked
- Read a book to a younger sibling
- Write a note to each person in your family,letting them know what you love about them
- Leave a surprise note/picture on someone’s pillow
- Help make cookies/dinner/etc.
- Play what someone else wants to play (without complaining!)
- Make someone else’s bed
For Friends, Neighbors, and Family
- Rake someone’s leaves
- Leave a box of goodies/treats on their porch (Make sure they are home!)
- Leave wrapped gifts on the porch for a family you know is in need this year. (Again, make sure they are at home to minimize theft!)
- Make get-well cards for someone you know who is sick
- Visit with a shut-in, elderly relative, etc.
In the Community
- Say “Hello,” “Good morning,” “Have a great day,” etc. to strangers you see.
- SMILE at everyone you see
- Leave a dollar inside a library book, on the shelf at the dollar store, etc. with a note instructing the finder to buy something fun for themselves!
- Buy a gift for a community toy drive, giving tree, etc.
- Donate food or shop for a bag of groceries to donate to a local food pantry
- Collect coats, gloves, and other winter items for the homeless
- Along with a tip, leave a thank-you note for your waitress
- Compliment the service of a retail worker. (If you have a favorite teacher, grocery checker, bank teller, etc. go out of your way to write a note to their manager/boss and let them know too!)
- Draw a picture/write a thank-you note for your letter carrier
- Leave change in a vending machine
- Pick up litter/trash (Choose a local park/favorite family spot, or take a “trash walk” through a neighborhood)
- Pay for the coffee/meal/toll/etc for someone else
Happy holidays everyone!