As adults, most of us have felt our hearts swell so huge with the anticipation of watching someone we love open a gift that we picked for them. And we want to teach this amazing feeling of Christmas giving – year round – to our kids. Giving of ourselves, especially during the holiday season, feels amazing! Christmas giving may actually be selfish because it just makes us feel so darn good.
So why do adults bust our *sses, over-fill our calendars, commit to insane things at our childrens’ schools, throw parties, attend parties, and work like maniacs to cook over the top meals and try to ‘pinterest decorate” for family and friends every year during the holidays?
Related Story You May Also Like: How to Make Your Christmas Traditions More Relaxed
I think it’s because we’ve confused business with giving of ourselves. They aren’t the same thing. Or maybe I’m wrong and we just all need to be committed. So I’m not endorsing the over the top busy Christmas, in fact, I think we should slow it down and enjoy what we all cherish most.
It’s not hard to tap into our child’s natural inclination to give of themselves at Christmas and to begin to include helping others as one of our family traditions.
Three Steps to Teach Children About Christmas Giving
I’m using three steps to teach my children about the joys of Christmas giving and sharing joy.
My children are still young and so there are not quite as many charitable endeavors they can participate in – but I want them to start early and to know that charity and sharing are both joyful and expected.
We practice charity and sharing throughout the year. But at this time of year when there is so much coming their way, it feels really important to emphasize the joys of Christmas giving as much as possible.
Related Story You May Also Like: 100+ Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas
What If My Kids Just Want “Stuff”?
The first thing I always want to do is to normalize the fact that they want things for Christmas.
I remember as a child the excitement of the Sears catalog arriving for Christmas. I read that thing, studied it, memorized it, and made my Christmas list off of it. It felt for all the world like my life would be perfect if I could just have what was in that catalog!
Children want things and that’s perfectly normal and appropriate! I think my boys have already started their Christmas lists. I think each boy has made it very short and sweet: “Dear Santa, I want every LEGO set ever made.”
Children naturally want ALL the toys that they see this time of year.
It’s important to me that I don’t make them feel bad or ashamed for wanting things. That seems unrealistic – even adults want things and there’s nothing wrong with that either. I never want to make them feel undeserving, unworthy, or ashamed for wanting things.
What I don’t want them to feel is a desire for things just to get things, things, and more things.
Television ads and catalogs this time of the year show them everything they don’t have and easily convince them that they would be happier people if they just acquired this one thing. While I acknowledge that there isn’t anything wrong with wanting things, I remind them that they can’t have everything. And I frequently teach the message that things can’t ever make them happy. It’s sometimes a tough sell, but concrete examples help a lot.
I also explain that catalogs and commercials are made for the purpose of pointing out all the things that they don’t have. The advertisers want to make you feel bad and to make you feel like buying their product will make you feel better. We talk about how focusing on what we don’t have can make us sad. So I hope I’m laying a foundation for them to think critically about commercials and media in general and also for them to take the opportunity to be thankful for all they do have.
I want my children to experience the anticipation of the season, including time together with family, sharing with others, helping others, decorations, sights, sounds, music, gratitude, and of course presents. The more they experience, the more I hope they will appreciate the holiday magic and joyfully share their holiday magic.
Related Story You May Also Like: How To Create Amazing Christmas Traditions Your Kids Crave
Children See How Much Fun Christmas Giving Is For Others
Next, I want my sons to see me and others around us enjoying Christmas giving – be it charity, gifts, or spending time with loved ones. I enjoy telling my sons how much I enjoy giving and sharing joy and happiness, especially during the holiday season. Since my sons have started the Lego list (you could call it a Christmas list, but Lego list is just so much easier and accurate…), I’ve started talking about some of the charitable things that I want to do for the season. I like finding opportunities to do something more personal than making a financial donation. I typically go through local organizations where we can choose a specific family to help. They have identified items that they need for themselves and their children. This is so much more rewarding than just writing a check.
Related Story You May Also Like: One Marvelous Reason Sweet Kids May Struggle With Kind Acts
Children Share Holiday Magic
Finally, because of their ages, I help with some ideas for giving. And then it’s so much fun to let their instinctual kindness kick in!
Once I started to share my plans for helping others during the holiday season, they eagerly left the Lego lists behind and joined my plans to help others! My four year old said, maybe there’s a family who doesn’t have a house who could use our help. My seven year old said, even if they have a house, they still might not have gifts for Christmas; so we could help them. Its very rewarding to tap into a child’s natural instinct to help others. Once you tap into this natural tendency, then they will experience the delight of helping others and be forever hooked!
As the season approaches, I will ask the boys to explore more ways that they would enjoy being of service both during the holiday season and year round. And if you want to find ways to help your family share holiday magic, here are some resources that may help you find the right match for your family:
100+ Christmas Giving Ideas From Around the Web
I share our family’s traditions for lots of things and I’ll share our traditions for the holiday season in a few weeks. But until then, I’ve asked some really wonderful family bloggers to share some of their stories about helping children learn about Christmas giving from their hearts. Jump over to their sites and get more great ideas:
Raising Kids Who Give Back from Mary Anne at Mama Smiles
Short Term Missions: What My Daughter and I Learned in Mexico This Christmas from Alicia Michelle at Vibrant Homeschooling
Christmas Charity Shoebox from Niki at Play & Learn Everyday
Family Volunteer Opportunities for the Holidays from Jacquie Fisher at EDventures with Kids
100+ Acts of Kindness Roundup from Vanessa at Mama’s Happy Hive
25 Acts of Service Ideas for Toddlers from Kara at Kara Carrero
Kids Who Serve Others – Spreading Cheer from Michelle and Kira at Sunshine & Hurricanes
Service Ideas for Kids from Carolyn at The Pleasantest Thing
20 Service Projects for Kids to Fight Hunger from Dayna at Lemon Lime Adventures
Random Acts of Christmas Kindness from Megan at Coffee Cups and Crayons
Random Acts of Christmas Kindness Printable Pack from Megan at Coffee Cups and Crayons
Spread Joy With a Kindness Cookie Plate from Megan at Coffee Cups and Crayons
Christmas Kindness Countdown Chain from Megan at Coffee Cups and Crayons