It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement and fun that comes with getting gifts at Christmas, especially as a young child. Can you blame them? It is so much fun to open gifts and play with new things. The wish lists to Santa, Mom and Dad, grandparents, aunts, and uncles are never-ending. While you can argue that this teaches at least part of the joy of gift giving, you can also argue that it teaches those less than exciting things like consumerism and entitlement (I know, go ahead and call me Scrooge.) As a parent who wants to raise a kind person above all else, I want to ensure my daughter learns the beauty of gift giving as well as gift-getting.
As a child, my parents always encouraged me to take my allowance and buy gifts for immediate family – no more than $5 spent on each, but I loved the act. I shopped (or made gifts) for parents, grandparents, and cousins (as an only child, I branched out a bit) and would then wrap each gift. I loved doing this, and it did it until I was old enough that we stopped exchanging gifts and bought only for the children (under 18.)
We are doing the same tradition with my daughter, although since she isn’t quite 2 and has no allowance to speak of, we are purchasing the gifts from her to grandparents and cousins.
While this might not be everyone’s cup of tea to teach the joy of giving, I have compiled a quick list of some other options:
- Fill Santa’s sack full (or tote or something similar) of gently used, but less loved, toys to donate to a children’s shelter at the beginning of December. A great way to clean out the toy box before Christmas.
- Volunteer at a pancake breakfast, gift-wrap station, nursing home, or shelter (whatever it most age appropriate for your kiddos.)
- Ring the Salvation Army bell (perfect idea for a Daddy/daughter or Mommy/son date night – a quick bite to eat before and hot cocoa after, with a lesson in giving wrapped up in the middle!)
- Use your family’s “fun money” by skipping a lunch or dinner out and go buy pet food, blankets, etc. to take to your local shelter. Give the dogs a walk when you get there!
- Let your child help you pick up some items for a food pantry and assist you in delivering them.
These are just a few ideas of things your family can do to help teach your child the joy of gift-giving. Yes, it’s fun to receive gifts, but we know as parents that nothing is more beautiful than giving someone a well-thought gift. How do you teach this to your children?