Unfortunately, it's easy for a season founded upon gratitude and giving to devolve into a time of greed and selfishness-especially for kids focused on the gifts they'll receive under theChristmas tree. But despite that truth, it's also fairly easy to shift your kids' focus away from themselves and toward others. By getting them involved in their local (and broader) community, your children are sure to have a greater appreciation for the true reason for this season. Get the whole family into the holiday spirit by trying one (or more) of these nine simple-but effective-volunteer and charitable ideas.
Many soldiers are spending the holidays overseas, battling unimaginable odds and environments and missing out on celebrations with family and friends. Sending a thoughtful, handwritten note of gratitude and good tidings might seem like a simple gesture, but it makes all the difference to those reading them.
Many international non-profit programs like Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan's Purse spread joy and love to thousands of impoverished children across the globe, delivering hand-picked Christmas boxes to those who have very little. This holiday season, let your kids be in charge of picking out presents for someone their own age-they'll have fun shopping around for cute and fun items and will feel even better knowing that another kid will get to unwrap something special on Christmas Day. You can even include a picture and handwritten letter to go along with the box; many children who receive them write back with pictures of their own!
If you'd like to set your sights more locally, there is no end to the religiously affiliated and charity groups that look for volunteers to deliver presents to children within your own community living below the poverty line. Try looking up a couple in your area!
Operating a lemonade stand is one of those quintessential childhood experiences everyone should be able to cross off their bucket list. So why not modify it for the holiday season with a hot beverage stand designed to help those in need? Have your kids make the drinks, set up the table, serve customers and choose a charity to donate all the proceeds.
Most communities have saddeningly large amounts of people who have no home and few possessions, who live on the streets and grasp at help wherever they can find it. This season, take your kids to buy pairs of warm, thick socks, fill them up with things like toothbrushes/toothpaste, granola bars, first aid supplies, etc., and distribute them to members of your local homeless population at a shelter. While you're there, you can even volunteer to serve food to those who come in for a hot meal.
One of the easiest and most impactful ways your kids can get into the spirit of giving this holiday season is to gather up their old, gently-used clothes and box them up to donate to local charity shops and family/refugee shelters. Spinning off this idea, have them also collect all of their books, DVDs, board games and video games in old-but-good condition, and have them deliver these to the kids in a nearby children's hospital.
One of the most effective and caring ways your child can spread a little holiday love and cheer this season is by adopting a "grandfriend" at your local senior home. Many of these elderly men and women don't have any relatives to spend time with them during the holidays, and something as simple as delivering treats, singing Christmas carols or reading an interesting story can be infinitely impactful and make someone feel a little less lonely.
Craft projects are something most kids love, so let them direct that creative energy toward helping others. Project Linus delivers blankets to those who need them, and your kids can easily share their own creations by clicking here for a fun and easy no-sew fleece blanket tutorial.
Show the men and women dedicated to protecting your community how thankful you are for the work they do by baking them lots of sugary treats and hand-delivering them to local firehouses and precincts. Your kids will have fun baking the treats, and they'll love seeing how everyone lights up when they receive them.
You know as well as anyone how intimidating and mind-boggling new parenthood can be, so let your kids take part in easing that process for women by collecting a variety of baby items (including blankets, pacifiers and bottles) and taking them to be distributed to mothers in need at a local pregnancy center.
The perfect New Year's Eve party is even better when you can spend it with your whole family.
These ten Christmas Eve traditions will make for some magical memories with your family.
The best gifts come from the heart, and these DIYs are the perfect gifts for kids to help make.
Pack those bags, it's Christmas vacation time!
No more boring Thanksgiving leftovers! These family-friendly recipes are budget-friendly and delicious.