Making the Holiday’s a Time of Giving

It’s that time of year again and the season of giving is upon us.  Holiday flyers are dumped on our doorsteps  and TV commercials fill the airwaves.  Every parent knows what this means.  By the first of December, your kids’ excitement levels will be turbo-charged and presents will be all they can think about.  We all understand that gifts are part of the fun and excitement, yet we also know the true meaning of the season is much more than a flurry of new toys.  It’s the time of year when we’re asked to open our hearts to those who are in need.   It’s a time for being with family and friends and for creating special memories together. Unfortunately, these values can get lost in the chaos of shopping. That’s why so many parents are wondering how they can instill the true holiday spirit in their family — the gift of giving.

Lead by example
Never underestimate the power of modelling. Your children observe everything you do and say. Use this influence to teach that giving is a high priority for you. Bring your children along when you deliver a gift basket to the seniors’ residence or make a donation to the food bank. Minimize talk about buying toys and focus on other aspects of the holidays, such as making time for family or helping neighbors who need assistance. Your actions  will bring the season’s true meaning into sharper focus.

Let Children Be Gift-givers
Sometimes we forget that children love to give as much as we do, so we don’t always encourage them to give gifts on their own. Although kids don’t have money, it needn’t be an obstacle.  Making gifts is a tried-and-true holiday activity and perfect for days when they are off school with nothing to do.  Homemade cookies wrapped in cellophane accompanied by glittery cards are easy, child-friendly projects. Make a family gift list, check the Internet for creative ideas and get busy creating a gift factory at your kitchen table. Then watch your kids react with pleasure as they hand out their presents and see familiar faces light up with delight.

Make Charity a Family Affair
Whatever your religion happens to be, the season is universally about caring, love and compassion.  There are countless ways to give to those in need and now is the perfect time to highlight the importance of charity.  As a family, brainstorm how you will help. Share your interests and encourage the kids to think about which causes or groups have special meaning for them.  Respect those groups your children want to help even if they aren’t the same as your own.  Then discuss whether you will make a donation, volunteer time, or both. Whether you are helping someone in your own community or a village in Africa, children can be taught about the needs of different people and why giving matters. Many children like to donate one of their own gifts to a local toy drive. Others take an amount out of their piggy bank to make a donation to a worthy cause of their choosing.  Encourage your children to take part and watch them beam with pride when they realize they’re making a positive difference in the world.

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Karen Skinulis

Karen Skinulis

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