Teaching Children Charity During The Holidays

Teaching children charity during the holidays. One advantage of coming from a family of 7 children is that I knew perfectly well I was never getting Malibu Barbie AND her cool beach car AND her princess playhouse AND her fancy wardrobe.  I would get ONE of those things and I would be happy about it.   Everyone complains that “kids today are just so greedy!”   But in their defense, let me tell you that my marketing background is filled with alarming statistics about advertisers focusing in with a laser beam intensity on the most impressionable AND the most influential member of the household–your kid.  So seriously, don’t be too shocked when your offspring hands you an extensive list of requests, right down to the color, brand and code.

malibu barbie

Add that carefully infiltrated avarice to the need to teach our kiddos the joys of charity and giving back–that’s a challenge.  Here’s some suggestions from the Smartest Mommies I Know:


Teaching Children Charity During The Holidays

what I want tags for kids for the holidays


1. Setting expectations early: I give the kids these tags to mark items they know they’d like to receive.  It also tempers expectations of a zillion, trillion presents and makes them ruthlessly pare down to what really matters to them.



2Limit TV and computer time over the holidays: I know, easier said than done.  But it’s still easy to catch up on the holiday classics by popping in a DVD or jumping over to YouTube and then out again.  The less of the relentless barrage of advertising, the better.



3. Begin service in the fall when there’s more time: we start with The Backpack Project before school starts.  The twins save their allowance to buy backpacks, school supplies and personal hygiene items for the kiddos at the Road Home, our local family shelter.  They include a letter sending best wishes for a great school year.  The more opportunity our kids have to serve the little people who need their help, the better.  The twins and Zoe–after an initial case of shyness–end up hanging out and chatting like buddies.  Another great option is to volunteer with a church or work group to make and serve dinner at a shelter, bring a craft activity to make with the kids.  This helps my kids understand that they’re not giving to a faceless entity: these are friends.



4. One Toy In, One Toy Out: good for two purposes–teaching decluttering and helping kids make decisions about what’s really important, and what’s just taking up space.  One crucial caveat: the toy given away must be in good shape, and we have a discussion about why this toy would be appreciated by another child.  The kids and I clean up the toys, make them look great, and donate them.


give back

5. A Gift To The Father On Christmas Day: you can make this suggestion totally non-secular, by the way.  We use this analogy to teach the kids that on the holiday we celebrate, they need to offer The Heavenly Father a gift in thanks for the gift of his Son to the world.  They select a gift from the among the ones they’ve received, we re-wrap it up and take the perfect, new gift to another child.  (Editor’s note: I try to not reference religion on this site too often–I think faith is a personal choice.  I used this only to show how we give thanks.  Your way will likely be even more brilliant.)




teaching children charity




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7 responses to “Teaching Children Charity During The Holidays”

  1. todderinfav5admin says:

    Here’s some suggestions from my wonderful Facebook Fiends…

    Kimberly Burrows My son has helped us feed families in need and homeless on Thanksgiving for past 6 years instead of having a traditional Thanksgiving at our home. Teaches him to give back, volunteer and to be thankful for what we have.
    47 minutes ago · Edited · Unlike · 1

    Roger Heilman Cooking at the Ronald McDonald House…I’ve taken my grandsons there to cook with me..Very humbling feeding people who are going through such critical times.
    45 minutes ago · Unlike · 4

    DeeAnn Zitting Lopez-Jones give up at least one present and buy one for someone in need instead
    44 minutes ago via mobile · Unlike · 1

    Jami Granger Hunt Ashlynn helps me all year long…as she outgrows her clothes we bag them up to give away, and we talk about who could use the shirt or whatever it is. She helps me decide.
    44 minutes ago · Unlike · 1

    Jami Granger Hunt We also do a sub for santa every year, and we try to pick a child near Ash’s age. She chooses the presents and we talk about how everyone needs a little help sometimes.
    43 minutes ago · Unlike · 1

    Kat Nadol Martin how i slowly started with mine..when they were in about 2nd/3rd grade..about the age where they start questioning the santa figure…. i gently explained to them…mom and dad are santa, the grandparents were santa…and by the kids giving gifts to others they became like santa clause…they took it rather well..and at that age they also insisted i had change also for the bell ringers
    42 minutes ago · Unlike · 1

    Barbara Poulson Each year we would pick a night and start off by reading a story called “The Christmas Coat” (about a young boy giving his coat to a homeless man). Then we would take our children to each pick an Angel off the Angel tree. We would then go shopping for the items. If there were families that we knew that were in need, we would choose them as our Angels. We had a lot of fun doing this. Of course we always threw in a few extra gifts We would end the night with hot chocolate and talk about our experience.
    41 minutes ago · Unlike · 1

    Jacey Carpenter We’ve stuffed and delivered stockings for moms in abuse shelters, adopted families for Christmas, and we limit the kids’ gift quantities to keep their focus where it should be. We also teach them about the life of the greatest example of charity and the reason for the season, Jesus Christ.
    40 minutes ago via mobile · Unlike · 2

    Jennifer Johnson Hunsaker We have the annual toy purge right before Thanksgiving and then donate the toys in great condition to The Christmas Box House for kids in crisis. But we’ve really found that the best way to teach our kids charity during the holidays is to teach them ab…See More
    36 minutes ago via mobile · Unlike · 1

    Brandee Vest Nadauld We always pick a family and do the 12 days of Christmas. All the kids get involved. We have a ball!!
    35 minutes ago via mobile · Unlike · 1

    Yvonne McGowan I have an only child, but unlike most that only have 1, I don’t overdo buying him things. Because I’ve raised him to appreciate what we do have, he’s not greedy and selfish, and has always loved to share. I think some parents tend to try and overcompensate for what they didn’t have as children, and it comes back to bite them in the end.
    19 minutes ago · Unlike · 1

    Talea Shadowind When my kids were young, I was a single mom struggling to provide. I kept a couple of extra blankets in my car as the weather was cold. We would give these to those people who had no protection from the cold. I encouraged my kids to give the blankets. We then talked about how fortunate we were to have what we did. I also taught them that it wasn’t for others to know what we did, but for us and Heavenly Father only.
    6 minutes ago via mobile · Unlike · 1

  2. kerigocrazy says:

    We made it personal this year, and that really seemed to bring the lesson home for our nine year old. When she realized that one of her best girlfriends wasn’t wearing the cute new fashions because her family had hit hard times, well, we had to practically nail stuff down so that she’d still have a wardrobe of her own. Now, every time she sees her friend, she’s reminded that everyone needs a helping hand occasionally. I think we sometimes forget that those we love fall on hard times too.

  3. lise says:

    I have 5 children. My tactic is giving..
    1)we limit gifts to 3 bc I.don’t want them to think the holiday is ONLY about the gimmies.
    2) we choose one family from.our school and bless them.with clothes and toys for each age…even mom and dad.
    3) after our gifts are opened we choose one gift to give to the local shelter ( I’m a foster parent)
    4) we always write( not text) thank you notes

  4. Lori Z. says:

    My favorite things to do with the kids are to give them money to shop for other people with. Their school does this food drive and they look at what classmates bring and I like to ask them if they’d like to eat that (dusty boxes of rice-a-roni and tomato paste?). From there we go to the store and look for the [healthy] stuff that they would want and shop within a budget. It gets them thinking about how much things cost and how lucky they are to have a choice in their foods. From there we do a shopping trip for anonymous kids at the school, shopping for clothing and toys that they might like. It gives them the knowledge that kids very close to them have issues with basic needs. We always have a lot of fun shopping on these trips.

  5. todderinfav5admin says:

    I love how creative everyone is about bringing the lesson home in a very personal way! Lori–you are SO right about the food we all tend to donate. Brilliant way to build empathy. 🙂

  6. Jen says:

    Any rational person can see that your mention of your Christian faith is a personal choice and not an edict. There’s no reason to hedge or apologize for it.

    • todderinfav5admin says:

      Hi Jen–thanks for your beautifully phrased comment. 🙂 I’ve always a little sensitive because of my radio background. Mentioning anything remotely religious on-air is guaranteed to get some hateful phone calls. Thank you for seeing the intent.

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