Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Five Ways for Parents to Teach Children the True Spirit of the Holidays


NOTE FROM SUSAN: This article comes courtesy of World Vision, a Christian humanitarian charity organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. The holidays are an especially good time for teaching our children about giving, rather than getting. Following are some great tips for doing so.

The holiday gift-giving season is an appropriate time to involve children in charitable giving and teach them why the old adage, “It is better to give than to receive,” is true. Here are five great ways for parents to lead by example and teach their children the true spirit of the holidays.

Five ways for parents to teach children the true spirit of 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.




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