As a parent, I am always trying to find ways to help my own kids find the true meaning of the holidays (which is not waiting for presents for themselves). In thinking about this, below are five ways that you can work on teaching your kids some of the things that we all hold dear about the holidays:
1. As a family, select a charitable organization you’d like to support. Use online tools like Charity Navigator to find an organization that you trust. Give your children a budget and encourage them to decide how your family will donate to that organization this holiday.
2. Cherish the stories of your family. Have your children talk to their grandparents and write down the stories of their past. Create a book to share with the entire family or record it online through Story Corps.
3. Consider do-it-yourself gifts, like no-sew fleece blankets, that you can make with your children. Donate those blankets to a local homeless shelter. Find other homemade gift ideas at About.com’s Family Crafts page.
4. Work with your children to create a coupon book for your neighbors that might need an extra hand this year. Coupons could include shoveling their sidewalk, watching their children, or providing a meal.
5. Bake cookies or sweets with your children and deliver them to your local nursing home or school-in-need. Get started with this list of holiday recipes.
Devin Hermanson, a charitable giving expert and national director of World Vision’s Gift Catalog, is seeing a return to meaningful giving through the Gift Catalog. Despite the recession, Gift Catalog sales are higher than last year’s figures at this time.
“The holiday season can be a stressful time of year. There are gifts to purchase and wrap, cookies to bake, and family and friends to visit, but when we pause to help our neighbors in need, we all experience Christmas in a more meaningful way,” says Hermanson.
For each item in World Vision’s Gift Catalog, the giver makes the purchase in the name of a friend, family member or business associate. World Vision then sends special cards to those individuals, describing the gifts and their impact. Last year alone, World Vision’s Gift Catalog raised $25 million and provided assistance to more than 500,000 people worldwide. The Gift Catalog launched in 1996, and while a goat ($75) is still World Vision’s number one seller, there are many affordable items for $35 or less.