Traditions are what make the holiday season such a unique and magical time. Yet, sometimes I find that we have lots of traditions that are FUN, but don’t pass on our values. Which is important too! As a result, I’ve been searching for meaningful Christmas traditions that encourage giving.
Because at holiday time, I’m afraid my kids will get a big case of the “gimmies.” Which they certainly do from time to time (adults get this way too!). There’s a lot centered around what they GET this time of year. Not much is focused on what they can GIVE. At least in our house anyway. Until recently.
After all, what are traditions for if not to teach the important stuff too. Those sticky life lessons!
9 MEANINGFUL Christmas Traditions
1. A FUN SECRET
Try a Secret Santa gift exchange within your family. Leading up to Christmas, have family members draw names. Then, they leave a gift (without names) for their recipient somewhere it will be found. Participants can’t tell who gave it until Christmas!
A similar concept is the Secret Angel. This involves doing nice things for your recipient without being caught. Each participant draws a name and then picks a way to be helpful! Names are revealed at Christmas.
2. START A GIVING JAR
With this tradition, every member of the family consistently adds money to a jar. Remember, simple = doable! A small amount of money is added every week, and then the kids pick what good they want to do with the jar during the Christmas season.
We are putting money in after our weekly Saturday pancakes, so it’s an easy trigger to remember the jar. The kids are already brainstorming what they’d like to do with the money.
3. LOCAL CHARITY
Local and seasonal charities are EVERYWHERE this time of year. Take advantage of Operation Christmas Child, Toys for Tots, or many more. This website HERE has a list of the top 7 charities that help children at Christmas.
Many schools also have a charity or fundraiser they work with during the holidays. It’s a great way to get kids involved in their classes.
And finally, if you attend church, most churches also have a local charity they sponsor over the holiday season. Bring in food to help a family with a holiday meal. Or pick an ornament off of a tree for the family to purchase for those in need.
If your kids receive an allowance on a regular basis, there’s great advice that suggests having them split up their money into 3 envelopes: spending, saving, and giving. You choose the amounts based on your beliefs, total allowance, and ages of the kids. Here are some varying envelope percentages:
- Spending 70% Saving 20% Giving 10%
- Spending 80% Saving 25% Giving 5%
- Spending 90% Saving 5% Giving 5%
- Spending 50% Saving 40% Giving 10%
For example, if your kids get $2.00 a week, and we choose the first bullet point, they put $1.40 in an envelope for spending, $.40 for saving, and $.20 for giving.
Now, all of those coins make it difficult to stay on top of the envelopes. So, adjust the percentages or total and change the paying schedule so that you can use only dollars. And obviously, you could do this year-round, or just during the Christmas season.
With this method, kids view their money as more than just for spending. It sets them up for success with a stellar financial education they won’t get in school.
And, during the holiday season take the money in the giving envelope and use it for a cause that they choose.
5. MAKE FOOD
Most ways of giving don’t have to include money! Many service people have to work the major holidays. So bake cookies or take food to your local fireman, policemen, nurses, or anyone else over the holidays. Heck, retail employees would probably appreciate this too!
6. GIVE CARDS
Similarly, older folks can be lonely around this time of year. Make cards, small goodies, or gifts and drop them off at a local nursing home near you.
A family volunteer event is the perfect thing during the holidays. Soup kitchens, sorting food, Salvation Army, and other opportunities abound this time of year.
Check out your local church or school for more ways to create a yearly volunteering tradition!
8. DONATE OLD TOYS
Most homes with kids receive A LOT of new toys around the holidays. So, take a day to go through gently used toys and donate them together. Have the kids drop off toys themselves. And be sure to have a conversation about where they will go and who they may help.
9. GIVE TO YOUR KIDS
I’ve seen this experiment work beautifully with adults. Myself included.
This year, my mom is doing it with her grandchildren. She’s giving each child a small amount of money to do something good with over the holiday season. They pick exactly how and when it will be used.
Now, of course, we will also encourage our kids to add a little of their own money. But the main point is that they get practice in giving.
Together, we will brainstorm ways to use it. And, they get to experience how good it feels to do something for someone else. It’s a great starting point, even if they choose not to contribute their own money.
Something To Consider
There are countless other ways that you can encourage the giving spirit. Just remember, in order for giving to be effective with kids, it’s best if it’s visual, and they get to choose where the money goes. They need to be involved and have choices in the process.
So, enjoy your silly and fun activities – and sign up for some awesome ones HERE! But don’t forget to include a few meaningful Christmas traditions as well.
Want more tradition ideas in general? Check out my ebook HERE The Ultimate Guide to Family Traditions for the only resource you’ll ever need, perfect for Christmas time!
What are your most meaningful Christmas traditions? Do they include giving or something else?
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