Monday, November 19, 2012

10 Ways for Children to Give rather than Receive

Christmas is a time of giving but I have to admit that at times this thought is lost on my kids.  They can get very wrapped up in the idea of Christmas lists, holiday toy catalogues and letters to Santa.  It is hard to blame them with the amount of advertising we're inundated with and the fact that Christmas carols have been pumped through the stores since November 1st.

It is difficult for kids to feel the inclination to 'give' rather than 'receive' when they don't have money of their own.  Usually the small amount of money they do have has been hard earned through a weekly allowance or birthday money and more times than not it is already earmarked for a special item they want for themselves.  This time of year is also expensive for parents so teaching your kids to 'give' with money that you provide them isn't always in the cards or really reinforcing the lesson you hope to pass on.  If it isn't really theirs to give in the first place, they don't feel the tie or value.

There are many ways though that we can instill that 'giving' mentality without relying on dollars and cents and it is here that we can get creative in our lessons to our children. 

Here are 10 ideas of 'giving' that kids can easily do and they don't incorporate a trip to the mall.  Many of them are small tokens of giving and kindness but the message of giving rather than receiving is still strong.  

  1. Hold the door open for a stranger every day.
  2. Let someone ahead of you in line.
  3. Seek out an elderly neighbour or friend, take them a plate of goodies (or maybe these). 
  4. Organize a school supply drive with friends or classmates for those in need.
  5. Volunteer for a charity such as a food bank.
  6. Help shovel snow or rake leaves for a neighbour.
  7. Practice your knitting and make scarves for the homeless.
  8. Clean out your closet and donate toys and clothes to a charity.
  9. Create some homemade holiday cards and hand deliver them to older neighbours.  You can give them blank cards that they can send or a personal card from the kids.
  10. Write out 'love tokens' and give them to family members.  These are like 'coupons' for ways that you can help out or spend quality time together.  Some ideas might be; share a favourite toy, play a board game, help wash dishes, read a story.


These two require a little shopping but it is money you would have spent on your own family.
  1. Shop as a family for groceries and have the children pick out items to donate to a food bank. Have the kids choose items they would like for themselves but instead put those items in the 'give' basket. Don't buy the items for your kids too, let them do without that week so they can really see the 'giving' lesson.
  2. Ask your children to choose one item from their Christmas list and go to the store together to buy them.  Instead of wrapping them and putting them under the tree, drop them off at a local hospital or toy drive.

I hope your family finds some inspiration in these ideas and shares the spirit of the holiday with those around you.  I would love to hear more ideas from you.

What does your family do to instill the idea of giving rather than receiving?


  1. hi susannah, what a welcome and different perspective on gifts at Christmas. I would love to do something like this with my kids. My oldest is just 3 though so I may have to wait a little while longer for him to appreciate why he would 'give' in these ways...thanks for the ideas :)

    1. Hi Louise. Thank you for taking time to comment. I think at your stage of life the best gift you can give your kids is to set the example of giving. Hopefully you'll come back to this list when the kids are a little older.


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