The man in the red suit brings a lot of joy, a lot of presents and sometimes a little confusion about the true meaning of the season. It can be tough to get kids thinking about giving as well as receiving when they’re bombarded with ads for toys and the frenzy of the shopping season.
Parents can change the course with a few intentional steps. These don’t have to be serious or boring. They can be fun, family activities!
Teach the Joy of Giving
As your kids are making their wish-list for Santa, have them make a gift-giving list as well. The gifts don’t have to cost money- a handmade gift can be fun to give and fun to get. (I have several ideas for ornaments in my previous blog entry!) While you’re putting together that craft or making cookies with your little one, talk about why you’re making these gifts. Who are they for, and how will they feel when they get them? You can shift the discussion to focus more on the fun and less on the gifts.
Make a Donation
Kids can learn a lot from donating to charity, whether it’s new or used. Make them part of the process by asking them to sort through their old toys and clothes to find what they no longer want or need. By describing to kids who will benefit from their donation, you can give them a greater appreciation for what they have. Another great idea is to let the kids pick out a new toy for Toys for Tots or another organization. Shopping for someone kids will never meet will really help the spirit of the season sink in.
Volunteer as a Family
There are plenty of worthy organizations that could use a little help during the holidays. Packing meals or serving at a food kitchen may take kids out of their comfort zone, but in a good way. It’s okay if the kids are nervous or uncertain at the beginning. Talk with them about what you’re doing, who you’re helping and why it’s so important. Kids are quick at adapting, and you’ll likely find they’re having a blast by the end of your volunteer shift and asking when you can do it again. Find an activity you all enjoy doing, and you can make it as much of a holiday tradition as opening the gifts on Christmas Day.
Make a Meal
There are so many learning experiences that come with cooking a meal. Kids learn how to measure ingredients, and they’re exposed to the idea of converting measurements even if they don’t do it themselves. Cooking is also a great opportunity to talk about what you have. Explain to the kids that you earn money at your job to pay for the food they eat every day, but not everyone is as fortunate. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, but it helps plant a seed in their brains. Not to mention, cooking can be a lot of fun for both kids and parents alike!
No matter how you choose to celebrate the season, I hope it’s very merry! Happy holidays to all!