As we continue along during this holiday season we spend a lot of time making our Christmas list and helping the kids make theirs. There is a lot of receiving going on, especially for the kids, but the holiday season is a great time to teach them the importance of giving as well. I take my kids through a seasonal giving experience right before Christmas to remind them that it is not just about receiving gifts all the time. I set up various opportunities throughout the days leading up to Christmas to give to others.
I like to have them purchase gifts that we then give to the school toy drive. Having them participate in the purchasing of the gifts allows them to be more involved with the experience. I tell them to pick out a toy someone their age would want and it is definitely hard for them at first because they pick out toys they ultimately want. We also do things like participate in a toiletry drive for the homeless and adopt a family in need. This year the family we choose has two kids the same age as mine!
Another big benefit of this experience is getting the kids to clean up and organize! As moms, we have some clue as to what Santa is bringing. Why not help ourselves by clearing out and making room for the new things to come? Each day leading up to Christmas we spend 20 - 30 minutes getting rid of unused items that we can donate or buying items in need. We have a theme each day. One day it's toys, the next is books, then clothes, shoes, school supplies, etc.
Here is a sample giving experience that we go through:
Day 1: Toy Drive - The kids have their favorite stores so that is where we go. Each kid picks out a toy that they would like to give according to their age range. Don’t forget to give them a budget because you know they can go crazy! There are also some math lessons here as they are trying to ensure they are staying within budget.
Day 2: Toiletry Drive - The kids pick which item they will focus on. They like to get cool toothbrushes with their favorite colors. They like to smell the different scents and choose the best scent for deodorant, shampoo, etc.
Here is where the cleaning and organizing begin! Each day of the giveaway we spend about 30 minutes going through the items of the day. We have two bags or boxes, one for the items we will donate and the second for the items that must be thrown away because our kids have really loved on them. :)
Day 3: Toy Giveaway - If your kids are like mine they have more toys than they can truly play with. My son has at least two pairs of each marvel character and at least 20 dinosaurs! And that Barbie airplane that Santa gave to the girls last year has been touched possibly 5 times since last Christmas. I actually observe them a week or a few days in advance of the giveaway as they play to see which toys they actually play with to know which ones I will suggest they give away if they have trouble picking them. (which we know they will lol)
Day 4: Clothing Giveaway - Don’t just focus on the clothes that are too small. Does your kid really need 10 pairs of jeans? My husband thinks, so but I think not. Lol! Think about possibly donating pairs 9 and 10.
Day 5: Shoe Giveaway - My kids' feet are growing fast these days and some shoes we do not get a chance to wear once!
Day 6: Books Giveaway - We are big readers in our family so we like a lot of books and rarely turn any away. There are some books that we have multiples of because people are always gifting us with new books. We give those away along with the ones the kids have outgrown. We do keep our favorites no matter what!
Day 7: Supply Giveaway - You know all those extra supplies that you bought at the beginning of the school year as a “just in case” that was most likely added to the extra supplies you bought the year before? It's time to give them away! Your child does not need 5 extra boxes of pencils and 5 extra composition books.
Day 8: Adopt a Family - We go back to our favorite stores and pick out toys, clothing, shoes, etc. based on the ages of the family members. This time the kids get to help wrap with their favorite wrapping paper or gift bag.
If you do not know where to drop off the gifts and donations there are many schools, churches, and non-profit organizations that are always accepting donations. You can start with your child’s school and your church. They are most aware of families that are in need.
I like to teach my kids that when you clear out the old you are making room for the new. My hope for my kids is that when they grow into young adults, these lessons that I’m trying to instill in them now will help them be more aware and conscious of others and how their small actions can create a big impact.