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Teaching Kids About Giving: How We Do Gifts.
Christmas time is a time of memory making, joy sharing and gifts galore. During the holiday season it’s easy for kids to get wrapped up in their wants. The “gimme, gimme, gimme” attitude can come out in full force.
It is important to us to teach children the value in giving. That it truly is better to give than to receive. We want to focus their joy on giving joy to others. Spreading Christmas cheer. Having that true Christmas spirit.
Birthdays are also a time where children have the opportunity to give to the birthday child. This is an especially great time to teach about gifting as the attention is on the birthday child and it’s a chance for the other children to truly give from the heart without receiving.
While giving is important…it can also be very expensive very quickly. With four kids it can be costly to have them give gifts to each other, to their parents, to others. We believe in spending smart and thinking through budgeting decisions is important to us.
My husband and I like to think big picture and long term in our parenting decisions so we have a pretty well-thought out system for gift giving with our children that helps them enjoy giving gifts while also not breaking the bank!
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Teaching Kids About Giving: Gifts For Each Other
We want our kids to be thoughtful and mindful about what gifts they give to each other.
When it comes to birthday gifts for their siblings rather than have each child go shopping to choose a gift for the birthday boy or girl we instead allow the children to look around at what they already own. What items do they have that their birthday sibling would enjoy? What gifts can they give from the heart to their sibling on their special day?
Giving a gift that they already own makes the gift extra special because it’s something they love that they are showing love to their sibling by passing it along to them.
I got this idea for how we do birthday gifts from Val at Chronicles of a Babywise Mom. Our kids LOVE this tradition for birthday gifts.
The birthday child lights up when they open a gift from their sibling that they know was given which such thought and care. And the giving child enjoys thinking about what items they own that their sibling would be excited to call their own.
When it comes to Christmas time we decided rather than have each child give a gift to each other child as well as a gift to each parent (that would total 30 gifts we’d be buying!!!) that we’d do something a little different in order to cut costs.
We have a fun tradition of visiting our local Target at Christmas time. We split up and shop as a group for ONE gift for each family member.
So, for example, I take all the kids and together the five of us choose ONE gift for Zach (my husband). He takes all the kids to choose a gift for me from them all. I take 3 of the kids to choose a gift for the fourth and so on.
It’s always a very fun outing and it’s great for building teamwork skills. The kids have to work together to come up with what gift the person they’re buying for will enjoy and love the most.
I love seeing the thought they put into all the gifts they purchase and how they negotiate together in order to narrow down their choices and end up with one gift for each person! It’s also MUCH cheaper for us to be buying 6 gifts total rather than 30 😉
Teaching Kids About Giving: Christmas Stocking Stuffers
Our family spends Christmas Eve night and Christmas morning at my husband’s parents house. So Santa comes there and my mother in law loves filling everyone’s stockings.
Over the years we’ve come up with some of our own little family traditions to have just between the six of us so we have special family memories at our home too.
One of those traditions is our stockings!
We go to the dollar store every year and choose items to fill each other’s stockings with. Much like our Target shopping outing…we split up and divide up and take turns in doing our shopping. Gifts for kids don’t have to be expensive!
This year we put a new twist on it and it’s not only more affordable but also more fun AND helps the kids focus even more on giving.
We decided to make our stocking stuffers a “Secret Santa” type exchange.
Each person in our family had their own shopping basket and we split up (we allowed the older three kids to roam the aisles themselves while my husband and I kept watch) and each chose ONE item for each other person.
It was so wonderful seeing the thought and care the kids put into choosing these gifts. Even the four year old did such a great job choosing things that each person would truly love and enjoy!
A fun element to the stocking stuffers is that each child also wraps the gifts for each other. They choose their wrapping paper and go in their rooms secretly and wrap the gifts and stuff the stockings!
When we open the gifts we have to guess who chose each item for us. This adds an extra element of fun, anticipation and excitement for both the gift recipient as well as the gift giver!
Teaching Kids About Giving: Cards
Everyone has their own love language, the way they best give and receive love.
Gift giving is a great way to show love and at the holiday season and during birthdays it’s the most common way. But words of affirmation is also another great way to show love at the holidays through card giving.
Growing up we always did cards for each other on birthdays and at Christmas. It wasn’t about what the card itself said, it was more about taking the time to write something thoughtful and meaningful for each other in the card.
When it comes to teaching children about giving, I want to make sure I teach them many ways to give love. Not just in gift giving.
Again, we like to keep things simple and affordable. In this mindset we don’t have the kids purchase cards for each other at the holidays. Instead, they make the cards.
We also have them make cards for their teachers at Christmas time and for other family and friends during their birthdays.
When they are too young to write they may simply give a page with scribbles or stickers or little drawings. As they get older the cards have evolved into less pictures and more words. And the words have become more meaningful and thoughtful.
It is beyond precious when they give the cards to each other. They each read their card out loud and both the giver and recipient have so much joy! It is especially cute when the kids who can’t yet write still read their cards and what the cards “say.”
Making cards for each other costs no money and takes very little time but the love that is felt is priceless!
Teaching Kids About Giving: Giving to Others
Giving within our own family unit is very important. I want my children to have close bonds with each other and showing that love through gift giving and card writing is a great way to strengthen those bonds.
However, it’s also important for our children to understand the meaning of giving to others. Helping those in need. Blessing others during times when it can be financially difficult.
We do several different things with our children throughout the year to teach them the importance of giving to others. We pass out blessing bags to homeless. We work the soup kitchen at our church. We take meals or donate funds. We visit nursing homes. Charity work is a blessing to us all and something we focus on more and more as our children get older.
Acts of service is also another love language and is a great way for our children to show love, generosity and thoughtfulness to others.
At the holiday times though one of our favorite charitable traditions is to hand out cash money. We save up during the year to be able to get several envelopes filled with cash.
When we go to the dollar store to choose our stocking gifts we also hand out the envelopes. Each child is able to take an envelope to a complete stranger. They get to choose the stranger and walk up to them and say “Merry Christmas” when handing them the envelop.
It is something the kids look forward to all year long. They LOVE that good feeling in their hearts when they get to bless someone else. And the reactions of the strangers are just so awesome.
As the kids get older and earn their own money they set aside money each week for giving. They contribute that portion of their earnings to the Lord through tithing. They may also choose to give towards our dollar store blessings or other ways to help others.
I love watching our children open their gifts on their birthdays and at Christmas. But what is even better is watching our children as they give gifts. Hearing them read their thoughtful words. Seeing their looks of anticipation while their sibling opens their gift. Watching their smiles as they hand an envelope to a stranger.
We value teaching our kids to put others before themselves, to see a need and meet it and to have a generous heart. It feels good as a parent to give gifts to our children and one of the best gifts we can give them is the gift of learning to give to others.