Give Away: A New Holiday Tradition

As the holidays approach this year and gift-giving (and shopping) begins, I can recognize one true fact:
My kids don’t NEED anything.

That being said, I still want them to learn about the blessings of giving and receiving. I also want them to learn about personal limits. I especially want them to learn that not everyone has it so good. Moreover, that leads into learning that they have a responsibility to others.

If you are interested in teaching your kids similar values, here’s a simple exercise that can get them thinking along these lines.

Go through their room and belongings – together – and create a giveaway box. ‘Oh, I do that regularly’, you may say. Great! But this time, do it intentionally, and with your child. Maximize the teaching benefits such a time provides:

  • Your child will probably be getting new stuff for the holidays. Fill a box with the toys, clothes and such that no longer fit, are used up, or are broken. Talk to your child about sharing the wealth!
  • Fix what you can and donate it. By doing this WITH your child, they learn about thrift, value and recycling. It’s a wasteful society that says something only has value when it’s new. In addition, it’s satisfying to make something be useful again.
  • Follow through on your donations…together! Let your child research charities that are gathering toys for the holidays. Let your child figure out the details of getting that box of clothes to the right group whom can put it to use.
  • Kids are hungry for leadership roles; let them organize a neighborhood clothes or toy drive for the needy in your area. (Remember to lend your adult supervision to all of their efforts!)
  • Talk about the toys they got last year at the holidays. Are they still playing with them? Why or why not? This is another great way to get your kids thinking about the value of their possessions.
  • Talk about how many hours it took to work last year to have the kind of holiday your family enjoyed. Ask your child if they would be willing to work that long for someone else’s enjoyment.
  • Create ways for your children to give to others. Once they’re thinking about helping, it’s natural for kids to come up with simple solutions to the problems they see. Some of those gently-worn clothes could be sold at the local consignment shop and the money used to buy a Christmas dinner for a family that wouldn’t otherwise have one.
  • Those no-longer needed books and puzzles can be cleaned up and given to the local homeless shelter. And on and on!
  • After the clean-up work is done, have your kids create their wishlists for this upcoming holiday season. Talk about a family budget and what is reasonable for ‘stuff’. Consider encouraging everyone to forfeit one item on their list and then use that money to improve another family’s holiday season.

By doing this regular ‘chore’ as a family project, you can share your values with your precious children and start a holiday tradition that can have tremendous meaning for your family for years to come!

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What do you think?