How to Show Your Kids Christmas Isn't Just About Receiving

We Tried It 23

This can be a tough one.

For one thing, your kids have eyes and no matter how hard you try, there will be folks you know who pile more presents on their kids than they can possibly find use for.

Two, everything in kids' lives -- the TV they watch, the boxes of cereal they look at -- is geared toward turning them into unabashed, conscience-free consumers.

All the more reason why it's a great idea to start the conversation about the other half of the receiving equation, i.e. the giving part, right now.

I've tried to do this for a while, especially during the holidays, and I'd say that I'm semi-succeeding and semi-not.

My 7-year-old twins, I would argue, have PLENTY of stuff. They also share a lot of things, which cuts down on the quantity of what they ask for and what they get. But they are not immune to the wiles of the Wii and Monster High dolls, even though I can't imagine that there is one doll made that we don't already have.

My youngest, the Monster High-addict, used to be far more focused on the giving part. As a toddler her signature move was to try to give her own toys to visiting babies.

When she learned about Haiti in pre-school, she was desperate to help. That night, we sat down at the computer and donated to the Red Cross on Amazon together, and I still think of that as a moment when a lightbulb went off for her. Who is going to help others if not us ourselves?

Making an annual tradition out of a donation of some sort -- whether it be your time or money or goods -- is a great way to ensure the giving and receiving loop stays in tact.

For example, every year my aunt and uncle, inspiring helpers that they are, make a donation to Heifer International. Every year I wonder why we don't do that.

A friend of mine had a great idea. If her kids get, say, four presents during the holidays, they choose four items to donate to kids who have less. One in, one out.

I think the most important way to keep kids aware of giving and thinking of others, though, is simply to talk about it.

If you're fortunate enough to be able to give your kids ample items from their list, that is wonderful. But the conversation and the context you put them in will make those gifts that much richer.

Do you talk to your kids about giving to others during the holidays?

Image via thefixer/Flickr

elementary school, kid activities


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irish... irishrose13

My daughter likes to put money in the kettle for the Salvation Army and we've done Toys for Tots as well as PJs for Christmas since she's been in school-she's in 3rd grade now. I think it's important to talk about giving during the holidays and year round, but it's hard to accept if it's not affecting you personally.

Tracys2 Tracys2

We work on it. I really want to do the "one toy in for one out" system, but it's a challenge. First, because things are so crazy before the holidays with all the family birthdays and travel, it never gets done. Second, because the younger siblings want to inherit things and that makes things complicated. But we're working on it!

They do give money, but much of it tends to be mine, not theirs.

amand... amandajoy21

We try to make sure he understands that he is lucky to have everything that he has. Every year we try to get him involved in local charities and make sure that he understands why we are doing it. When we do toy drives he gets to pick out toys that he would like and then he comes with to donate them. But he is always super generous even with things that aren't his to give away.

Krystian Kaufold

I've taught my daughter to give through out the year, through the Four Diamonds Fund. She is all about giving. 

And while yes it's been proven that Christmas is about Jesus, and was a Pagen holiday, we teach her that it's to celebrate him (she believes in Jesus/God, and I refuse to take that from her.) and to give and it's about the magic of Santa, and love and being with family. 

I've come to the point this holiday season that I'm at "Fuck it, I don't want a tree" just because I'm sick and tired of seeing families going over and beyond what children need. My oldest will have all of five or six things under the tree. And my newborn twins won't have that much either. 

The way people act and the way businesses act are insane. Kohls is open from 6am tomorrow, striaght through until 6pm Christmas Eve, and it's absurd.

Lucki... Luckicharmz

While we do get our children an ample amount of non electronic gifts, we also donate old toys every January. And each year my daughter does the childrens wish tree at our local Toys R Us where you can buy gifts for children who otherwise wouldn't get to have christmas.

elasmimi elasmimi

We really struggle with this with our 7 y/o. I partially understand, she was abandoned by her parents, and has issues with that, but she is very materialistic. She will not part with anything, and is totally not understanding that there are pople who have less than she does. Most of her friends do come from wealthy families, so she feels like she is "underprivileged" herself. We have done Angel tree, and several other things, but still working on it.

mrswi... mrswillie

Our kids understand and to give to others.

godde... goddess99

We donate when we can. My dd knows there are less fortunate in the world.

TerriC TerriC

We do talk to them about it.  They go through their things and pick what they will donate and we take it in.  They also will use their own money to donate to the Salvation Army.

PennO... PennOhioBabe

Yes we always adopt a family every Christmas.

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