How to Keep the Spirit of Giving {after the holidays have passed}

How to Keep the Spirit of Giving {after the holidays have passed} ~ Our Cozy Den

Many families do an exceptional job of giving back throughout the holidays. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I see so much giving and generosity in my community, and it just warms the heart. 💗 However, the closer we get to Christmas, the more the gimmes set in for the children. They seem to have their “eye on the prize” and get very focused on Christmas morning and all it entails. 🎁🎄🎁

Then, after Christmas, they seem to be riding a present-high, and they forget about all the love and giving and hope that the holidays bring.

Here are some strategies that my family has done (or is beginning to do) to make the Spirit of Giving last all year long!

1. Talk about things.

Kids don’t see the world outside of their own little bubble unless you make a deliberate effort to show them. Talk about your blessings. Tell them about what life is like in other countries. Don’t just tell them “There are starving kids in Africa”, but show them photos of starving kids in Africa. Start a conversation when you see a homeless man on the corner. Talk about some of the struggles of being homeless. Talk about why their friend’s daddy is off fighting a war, where he is, and what the conflict there is about. Opening their eyes to the world is the first step to fostering a sense of compassion.

2. Form relationships outside of your demographic.

We live in a small city in central Ohio that is mostly middle-class white people. But even within our town, there are people of all races, incomes, and family structure. Try to make a point of befriending people who are different than you. It will give kids a much more well-rounded view of people as an adult, if they grow up with all different kinds of friends, rather than only kids of about the same income level, the same ethnicity, who come from a two-parent home.

3. Plan one family activity a month to bless someone in need.

My family is Busy with a capital B. Between homeschooling, extracurricular activities, blogging, church responsibilities, and just taking care of the house, I feel like I am stretched to the limit. I wish I could be constantly out in the world blessing people like crazy, but I think once a month is a reasonable timeframe to fit it in. This makes it often enough to be a regular part of your lives, but not so often that it is overwhelming.

Though blessings often come with a price tag, they don’t have to! Here are some examples of how our family does this:

  • make “blessing bags” for the homeless to keep in your car– a gallon sized bag filled with deodorant, feminine products, toothbrushes, snacks, reading materials, or small gifts. Pass them out when you see someone on the street.
  • visit the elderly — many of them have no family and are extremely lonely. They have wisdom beyond compare and they love children!
  • bake some treats and take them to a local fire station, police station, or any local organization to which you want to show appreciation.
  • make dinner for someone who is sick, pregnant, has a newborn, or has a deployed spouse.
  • babysit for a single mom so she can have some alone time to shop, read, nap, or see a movie.
  • collect items for charity. Contact a local charity and find out what items they need — an animal shelter might need blankets, a women’s crisis center might need diapers, a homeless shelter might need toiletries or coats. Find out what they need and then let your friends know that you are collecting that item. Discuss with the kids what you’re doing and what it’s used for, and make sure the kids are part of the dropoff.

[edited] Here are a few more suggestions from readers!

  • pack a suitcase for kids in foster care, so they have belongings of their own.
  • set up a free lemonade/water stand at a park on a hot day
  • put change in people’s parking meters (though check the laws where you live, in some places it’s not allowed)

I’ll add more as readers contribute more ideas!

4. Sign up to volunteer.

Many charities have age requirements for their volunteers, but many of them also waive the requirements if mom or dad is volunteering alongside the kids. Contact your local nonprofit organizations to find out if they have any tasks that your kids can help do. You can also use a website like VolunteerMatch.org to find local volunteering opportunities.

Other kid-friendly volunteering might be something like:

  • Stuffing bulletins at church.
  • Cleaning. Kids can clean almost anything. If know someone who has a business or works in a church, ask if there’s anything your family can clean.
  • Pick up trash. We do this on Earth Day and a few times a year during the summer. I put 2 trash cans in a stroller or wagon, and we walk around the neighborhood putting garbage and recycling in them.
  • Crafting holiday decorations for the elderly. Decorating for holidays is something that tends to fall by the wayside as people get older, but it really brings them a lot of joy to see cute crafts made by little hands.
  • Run or walk in a race for charity. Even kids can do a mile or possible a 5k, and some even let kids ride bicycles.

5. Start a RAK fund.

The beginning of the year is a great time to write up a new budget! When you are planning where to put your dollars, start a new account called your RAK fund, for “Random Acts of Kindness”. {I LOVE the free checking & savings from CapitalOne 360 — they have great interest rates!}

Decide how much you want to put in that account — $10, $20, $100 a month — and set up automatic transfers. Then use that account to randomly bless people you encounter. This doesn’t mean the poor, necessarily. While it is awesome to always give to those in need, sometimes we don’t realize that people are in need. A simple blessing like paying for someone’s coffee or meal might be exactly what a person needs to get through an especially hard day. We don’t see what’s in people’s hearts, but we can certainly do our best to uplift them.

Some examples of how we use our RAK fund are:

  • Choosing another table at a restaurant and asking for their check.
  • Paying for the person in line behind us in a drive thru.
  • Tape $2 and a bag of microwave popcorn on a Redbox machine, with a sign that says “Movie night is on us! Enjoy this random act of kindness!”
  • When getting gas at the gas station, pop over to the other side of the pump and pay for theirs.
  • Buy a gift card at the grocery store and hand it to the person behind you as you leave. Sometimes I like to buy 2 and give one to the cashier as well.
  • On an especially cold day, keep an eye out for the mailman and make a cup of hot cocoa when you see them coming.
  • Take the kids to the book store and tell them to find a book they love. Leave enough money in the book to purchase it with a handwritten note. “I loved this book and I hope you like it too! Enjoy it on me. From, Connor.” 

6. Look for mission opportunities.

It’s not easy to find mission opportunities that are kid friendly, but they do pop up from time to time. Don’t hesitate to take your children out of your town, state, or even country, in order to see more of God’s world and be His hands and feet.

A few years ago, I took my then 8 and 6 year olds on a mission trip through our church. The church was putting on a day camp VBS in a very low income area of New York. My children had the opportunity to serve before and after the camp, by setting up and putting away chairs, tables, food, supplies, etc. During the camp, they attended the VBS with the other children. (see point #2) It was an incredible experience for all involved!

7. Show love.

Simply put, show love. God is love, and He is within us. Let Him shine through your actions. We do this in our everyday lives by choosing joy and peace over discontent and strife. Speak positively of others, especially in front of the kids. Demonstrate forgiveness and grace. Give people the benefit of the doubt, and try to empathize that they might be in a situation you do not understand or even know about. These are the values that kids will pick up on, and which will form their character long after we are gone.

 

Share with me!

I love to hear new ideas! Comment below and tell me what ways YOU get your kids involved in giving!

How to Keep the Spirit of Giving {after the holidays have passed} ~ Our Cozy Den
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