Christmas is a time for fun, festivities and, of course, piles of presents beneath the Christmas tree. As parents, we delight in seeing our children’s happy faces as they open their gifts. We feel such pride and pleasure when we can tick off the items on their wish lists and give them all the good things they deserve.
Sometimes, though, we worry that the true meaning of Christmas is lost on our little ones. We want to lavish them with gifts but we don’t want them to take that for granted. We know that not everyone can enjoy the same blessings at Christmas, and our hearts go out to those less fortunate. We want our kids to develop the same empathy and understanding, but we don’t want to deprive them or scare them. How do we find that balance and teach our children this important lesson in a warm, loving way?
Tell tales of joyous giving
We all love telling our children the story of Santa and bringing that magic into their lives. In doing so, we have a great opportunity to pass on a little wisdom and discuss the concept of kindness. We can explain that not all children are lucky enough to get lots of presents at Christmas. Santa provides for those children who would otherwise go without.
Even if you’re not religious, you could find great value in sharing the Nativity Story with your children. They’re bound to come across it at some point, anyway. If you share it with them first you can explain the story in a way that aligns with your values, whether secular or spiritual. At its core, the nativity is a story of generous people (and animals!) who gather together to welcome a baby to the world, giving him everything he needs when he has nothing. That basic message is one we can all get behind, no matter what our beliefs.
Pass on blessings through donations
It’s not enough to explain why being generous is important. Our little ones have to try it for themselves! Have your children gather their old clothes, shoes and toys to donate to charity at Christmastime. They will have so much fun running around choosing what to give. Pack everything into a personalised storage bag embroidered with your child’s name. It gives them a true sense of ownership and responsibility, which makes the whole experience even more meaningful.
If your wallet can stretch that far, consider buying new toys as gifts to donate. Deprived children will love receiving something new that was bought just for them, and our own kids will have a lot of fun picking those presents out! Charities like Samaritan’s Purse run projects like Operation Christmas Child, which gives you the chance to fill a shoebox with new toys to donate.
Get hands-on with gifting
You can also encourage your children to show their thanks and generosity to the loved ones in their lives. Grandparents, aunts and uncles will love to receive gifts from your kids that show just how much they mean to them. These can be beautiful, meaningful keepsakes, personalised with messages and photos chosen by your children themselves. They can also be batches of home-made biscuits, finger-painted cards or just a really pretty leaf from the garden. Everything becomes a treasure when it comes from the heart.
Visit child-friendly charity projects
An animal sanctuary is an ideal place to visit with kids and see some charity in action. Many animal sanctuaries host Christmas fairs, providing the perfect opportunity. You just know your little ones will be giddy with glee to meet and get to know the animals. You can gently explain why the sanctuary exists and encourage your children to ask questions of the carers and volunteers. You can even take the chance to sponsor an animal in your child’s name. That gives them a way to follow an animal’s progress and see how charity helps over the long term.
Spread Christmas spirit by singing carols
Joining a carol singing event is a great way to start fundraising with your kids. It shows them that there’s always something they can do to help, even if they don’t have anything physical to donate or money to spend. All they need is a big voice and a big smile! Not to mention, going carolling gives the family an opportunity to make special Christmas memories together. It’s an experience your children will never forget, and a tradition they could share with their own little ones in years to come. Just have a quick search online to find carol singing events near you, or take some advice from The Children’s Society and organise your own.
When it comes down to it, Christmas is all about love. L-O-V-E is where it all starts and ends. So it’s perfectly okay to shower your child with hundreds of gifts! That’s one of the ways you show your love. When you teach your child how to show their own love, that becomes another way to express your own deep care for them.