At holiday time we all ask our kids, "What do you want for Christmas?" But an equally important question might be, "What can we do to make Christmas more special for those in need?"
Each year, many of us resolve to cut back on the amount of gifts we give and focus more on the reason that we celebrate. This year, you should make a resolution to follow through with your kids in mind. By including your children in your quest, you can open their eyes to the wonder of giving and provide them a foundation for doing charitable acts in the future.
Here are a few simple ways to get your kids involved in giving this holiday season while teaching them the true meaning of the holidays at the same time.
There are many options for volunteer opportunities in each of our communities and a great place to start is your church, asking if they can recommend a charitable organization that is family or child friendly. You want your children to have a hands-on experience, such as serving food at a shelter or coordinating gifts for a local toy drive. If possible, make sure that your kids interact with those receiving assistance because that will give them a clear understanding of how your time and effort positively impact the lives of others.
2. Talk about the needy.
Discussing homelessness and poverty, and the reasons for them, can be delicate topics to discuss with our children. However, it's reality, and the more our children know about the circumstances in the world — when explained in an appropriate manner — the more empathy they will have. The best part of the discussion is explaining to your children that we are in a position to help and possibly make a difference. That's the important stuff.
3. Share the Christmas story.
While you're setting up the Christmas tree, buying presents and baking cookies, it's important to make sure that you're discussing the story of Christmas with your kids. If you create a culture of knowledge about the meaning of the holiday and why we give to others, then your kids will likely soak up that knowledge and allow it to guide them in the future.
4. Read books on the topic.
If your kids are lacking in awareness about the holiday, find some books at the library and fill them in on the story. Even if your family is not religious, the meaning of Christmas has universal appeal and provides a powerful foundation for our values and morals.
5. Choose items to donate.
If your house is anything like ours, it's filled with more toys, clothes, and books than we will ever use. Ask your children to help you pick out items that they think another child would like. Let your kids help you box them up, take them to a donation center, and drop them off. Remind your child that their generosity is making a difference in someone else's life and giving their old toy or book a new purpose.
6. Pick out gifts for less fortunate.
Throughout your community there are probably dozens of fund drives asking for toys or gifts for underprivileged kids. Adopt a family and ask your children to help you go shopping for them. Imagine how empowered your children will feel when they select a gift for another child, knowing that your family's thoughtfulness will bring a smile to the face of someone else.
Other options to show your children the spirit of the holiday are to donate food to the hungry or spend time with someone who is alone on the holidays.