I hope I’m not the only one who has happened upon a Christmas-crazed child who seems overly obsessed with presents and the Christmas tree instead of giving and togetherness. No? Just me? Just my kids? Great. Well, even still, if there happens to be some other Christmas-crazed parents out there who want to find a way to keep Christmas light and fun while incorporating a little more than just gifts, I have put together 5 super simple ideas for shifting the focus away from gimme, gimme, gimme, and a little more toward the heart and soul of giving and love.
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Practice Thankfulness before a Christmas list
I don’t know about your kids, but mine start planning their Christmas list on December 26th — 364 days before Christmas. Naturally, this makes my skin crawl a little because it starts to feel like they’ve totally skimmed over any gift that was under the tree in honor of more, more, more.
Can I pretend I don’t do this same thing sometimes? No.
It’s natural for all of us to instantly move onto the next thing without really taking the time to settle in and focus on what we currently have.
Thankfully (pun intended) we have the perfect chance at Thanksgiving (if you celebrate) to begin focusing on gratitude and an appreciation for what we do have.
I love Christmas has much as the next guy but I fully believe Thanksgiving is one of the most looked over holidays. (Although I do think we need to work on shifting how we celebrate it.) As a rule, I try to pause the Christmas decorating until after Thanksgiving has passed. I believe in slowing down and celebrating each holiday as it comes rather than rushing through the seasons.
This year, as my kids started writing out Christmas lists in November, I had a revelation: Before we do Christmas lists, I want to do a Thankful List!
The goal: For each gift my kids write down on their Christmas list, they are required to write down one thing they are thankful for.
Of course, immediately after I had this genius idea, I learned about the Turkey on the Table. This little turkey is designed to put more focus on the thankfulness of Thanksgiving in a super adorable way. This is a perfect way to focus on remembering to write down what you’re thankful for while you sit around the table eating.
Practice giving all year long
Instilling a giving heart is something that can be so easy around the Christmas season, but is something we easily lose sight of the second the ball drops in the New Year (at least I know I struggle with this).
If that’s the case in your house and you want to practice giving a little more with your kiddos year round, I have a few ideas on how you can get started.
For the little ones
When our kids were first learning how to do chores and manage money, all year long we used Financial Peace Junior. These money management kits for kids have envelopes for giving, saving, and spending. This way, when my kids get paid for their chores, they learn not only how to give but how to save as well!
All year long they build up their “give” envelope to dedicate toward a cause that they really believe in.
This time of year, I believe, is the best time for them to start giving that money away. When my kids were young, my daughter chose to go give to the homeless shelters and my son wanted to give to Santa Cause. (We handed it over to a Salvation Army Santa.)
For the older kids
Over the last year, we upgraded our kids spending envelopes to be a little more…new age.
Instead of hands-on money management, we downloaded the Greenlight app and signed them up for the accompanying debit card.
The great thing about the app is that you can pre-program chores into it and the money they earn is automatically divided into giving, saving, and spending (and you can add investing).
Here is a quick clip of the kids using their give money from their Greenlight Debit Cards to purchase some local requirements for the homeless shelter.
@renee.benes Diving their chore money into giving, saving and spending was something we learned during our Dave Ramsey debt payoff days. In previous years they have bought things for: 👉🏽 Family’s in need 👉🏽 Kids in the hospital But this year somehow seemed to sink in more since they’re older and are using their @Greenlight debit cards to buy the supplies themselves. ♥️ #givingbacktothecommunity #givingbackmovement #kidsandmoney ♬ Inspiring Emotional Piano – Metrow Ar
Rather than writing out a check, or donating online, I would encourage practicing hands on giving. Use actual money. Hand it to real, live people. It’s a far more impactful thing, I promise.
Even if your children don’t have a give envelope, encouraging them to give away a percentage of their earnings is a great way to teach them to be humble and giving all year long. If not all year long, maybe just this time of year!
Declutter old before getting new
As Christmas rounds the corner and we prepare for the overwhelming flow of gifts from grandparents, an important decision must be made. What are we getting rid of first?
Each year I remind my kids that if they want new toys, they first have to make room for them! In fact, I have found that before the holidays is one of the best times to actively practice decluttering with kids!
At the beginning of December, we will all do a clean sweep and start decluttering the house. Whatever we no longer use or play with is put into a bag and donated. Clothing, jackets and blankets usually go to a battered woman’s shelter in the cities and toys end up at Goodwill.
Script for toy decluttering at Christmas time:
“If you are wanting Santa to bring new toys, we have to make sure we are making room for them! What toys are you not using as much that you think another kid might really enjoy?”
Other simple Christmas posts:
- Easy Last Minute Christmas Treats
- Minimalist Christmas List: The Best Six Gifts for Lasting Joy
- A Minimalist Christmas. 6 Simple Steps to Have a Clutter Free, Less Stress Christmas
- 15 Minimalist Ways to Decorate Your Home for the Holidays to Avoid Clutter
Learn about the real St. Nick
When my daughter got older and it came time for the big “Santa talk” I gently reminded her that Santa was actually based on a real person named St. Nicholas. We read about him and discuss his generosity and gift giving. The True Story of St Nicholas <— Book on Amazon.
This is such a great reminder that Santa Clause didn’t originate to produce whatever presents we want under a Christmas tree but to give to those who truly need it.
While I’m sure you could find a way to share this story with younger children, I think it resonates more with kids as they get older and start questioning Santa Claus.
To know where the Santa originated from is a nice transition for older kids and a great reminder of how someone’s giving can literally impact the whole world.
Of course, now is the time of year to volunteer on top of giving. This could be at a homeless shelter, nursing home or even at your local church. Finding a way to volunteer together and work toward a cause that is bigger than all of us is a great way to keep kids humble and show them how they can help the world.
Taking the time to be selfless during this sometimes selfish time of year is a great way to help keep your kids humble (and maybe you too) while reminding them that there is a world out there far bigger than us.
Sub in as Santa
While it’s not quite volunteering, another good idea for raising the spirit of giving is allowing older kids to partake in the magic of Santa for their younger siblings.
This was something we were able to do for 3 of our kids and I know they absolutely loved being able to be part of the magic of giving!