‘Tis the season for this blog to start talking about gift ideas and tips for surviving the holidays without blowing your budget or losing your mind. There’s a lot of great stuff already lurking in the gift category archives, and we’ll be posting more entries on this subject over the next few weeks.
I see I wrote a post almost a year ago on charitable gift ideas, which is sort of what I planned to talk about today. More specifically, how do you get your kids to embrace charity, in the middle of a season designed to overload their brains with GIMME? My own children are too young to fully grok the notion of . . . well, much of anything about the holidays yet (my 3-year-old just asked me this morning if Santa was a pirate. I guess “Ho ho ho” does sound a lot like “Yo ho ho”), but I’d definitely like to create some traditions that involve all of us thinking about more than just our Amazon wish lists each year. Here’s a few activities I’ve been thinking would be good to do with kids during the holiday season:
Holiday mail for troops. Holiday Mail for Heroes is a Red Cross program where you can send holiday cards to American service members, veterans and their families. There’s also Operation Holiday Card, which sends cards to troops deployed overseas. You and your kids could hand-make a card for this purpose, or just add a personal note to your regular card together.
Donate toys. I periodically go through Riley’s toys and take things to Goodwill, but I realize it’s time to involve him in this effort instead of just sneaking stuff out of the house. This year I plan to have him help me set aside some gently used toys to donate to other kids, so everyone gets new toys for Christmas.
Donate blood. This isn’t a holiday-specific activity, but if you can swing it, taking your kids with you to donate blood is a nice way to teach them about generosity. Especially when they see you stoically taking that needle like a champ.
Volunteer. Dosomething.org is the largest youth volunteer database in the US, and it’s sorted “just for teens”. Very cool way to find some volunteer activities you can do as a family, or help your older kid find their own volunteer gig.
Create a charity jar. I love this idea: set up a jar to be used by the family, either by donating part of allowances or just by finding loose change around the house. Have your kid help you decide where the money should go, or make a special trip to a local Salvation Army bucket and let your kid drop in some coins.
Does your family have any charity-focused holiday traditions?