23 Meaningful Christmas Traditions That Encourage Giving (2023)

How to Make Christmas More Meaningful

Traditions are what make the holiday season such a unique and magical time. Yet, sometimes we have lots of traditions that are FUN, but don’t pass on our values. Which is important too!

As a result, I’ve gathered 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.

Christmas traditions for gift giving

After all, what are traditions for if not to teach the important stuff too. Those sticky life lessons!

MEANINGFUL Christmas Traditions for Giving

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pin of meaningful Christmas that focuses on giving


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! The names are revealed at Christmas.


meaningful Christmas traditions - the 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.


Local and seasonal charities are EVERYWHERE this time of year. Take advantage of Operation Christmas Child, Toys for Tots, or many more. Here’s 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.


Meaningful Christmas traditions, kids give money

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 spending.

And during the holiday season, take the money in the giving envelope and use it for a cause that they choose.


Next, most ways of giving don’t have to include money! Many service workers 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!


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!


donate old toys as a meaningful Christmas traditions

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 the toys will go and who they may help.


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 add to the amount.

More Epic Meaningful Family Traditions This Christmas

Some of these ideas include gift-giving, while others help your family connect!

meaningful Xmas ideas for family
Our favorite neighbor gift to give is a simple hot chocolate kit!

10. Create homemade ornaments (then give some to grandma and grandpa)

11. Read the Christmas Story or the Bible leading up to Christmas

12. Make food together and pass down cherished recipes

13. Attend a candlelight church service

14. Go caroling! Spread positivity and cheer to neighbors!

15. Try Kindness Elves to encourage acts of kindness in your home

16. Go out to eat and pay for someone’s meal (or pay it forward in the drive-thru line)

17. Start a designated family game night by the tree with your favorite board games.

Movies for Christmas charades theme game

18. Have a Christmas Family Movie Night and discuss life lessons in the movies

19. Countdown to Christmas with an Advent calendar (bonus for activities that bring joy to others!)

20. Read your favorite Christmas read aloud books for a Christmas book countdown. Not only does this build connection, but you’re getting all the benefits of reading too!

21. Give Christmas activity books to families with small kids. Your kids can be the givers and other families will appreciate a simple activity their kids can do during busy times.

22. Kiss Under the Mistletoe. Give the gift of kisses and hugs this time of year!

23. Practice Gratitude with your family. The holidays are a wonderful time of year to be thankful for all of the blessings that surround us.

Want More Fun Holiday Tradition Ideas?

Check out the free calendar or activities HERE:

Something to Consider With Christmas Traditions

There are countless other ways to 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! But don’t forget to include a few meaningful Christmas traditions as well.

meaningful family gift-giving Christmas traditions

What are your most meaningful Christmas traditions? Do they include giving or something else?

What’s Next?

Check out these fun Conversation Starters for Christmas to get everyone talking!

Other family posts you may enjoy…

23 Amazing Christmas Traditions That Are Meaningful


  1. Holiday traditions can add so much, and when they’re acts of kindness for others they’re even more valuable.

    1. You’re right Kristin! Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is great! At some point, our society experienced this shift towards materialism and the need to receive the biggest and best of everything over the holidays. With this new focus, we’ve forgotten about what really matters – showing care, compassion and love to others

    1. This is an excellent point Brit! Fun activities that involve stuff are easy to find, but meaningful traditions are a little harder to come by. Thanks for sharing!

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