Since my kids were toddlers we've envisioned Christmas, not without gifts, but WITH special traditions of giving, volunteering, caring for others. Each year we talk with enthusiasm of all the lessons we'd like to teach and ideas for making Christmas count.
Fast forward to 2013, our kids aren't toddlers anymore and we've still yet to implement and stick to any truly meaningful or memorable holiday traditions that we can do year after year.
Sure, we do some homemade gifting, baking, visiting with others, donating to thrift stores and charities, but our intent is always to do more.
I take comfort in knowing that good intentions also count, and that we're not the only family in this boat. This year as the holiday quickly approaches we're gathering some of our more valuable yet un-loved toys to donate to a family in need, encouraging the kids to be kind and donate, even if we can't know for sure who's hands our toys will make it into. It's the thought, the act, the gesture that counts.
I don't think you have to have a present-less Christmas to teach your kids a lesson, but you don have to insert a little planning in order to carry out a tradition of giving, not just receiving, and not just with regards to gifts.
Here are some ideas we have, that we'd like to try (one year or another). What ways does your family have or what ideas have you had for helping making Christmas count?
-Visiting the elderly in an assisted living or care facility.
-Creating care packages, cards, drawings, creating music cds for the troops overseas.
-Participating in random acts of kindness. From helping carry groceries to paying for another persons coffee, doing little things can really brighten someone else's day.
-Delivering baked goods to your local Fire or Police Department and keep in mind that on the holidays, some of these men and women have to work and will not be able to enjoy the holiday at home.
-Making donations of toys, food or clothing to your local Red Cross or Homeless Shelter.
-Shoveling the snow for your neighbors sidewalk or driveway.
What other ideas do you have that we could add to our list?
Becca Gettel Date 11/19/2013
I also love Operation Christmas Child. My daughter likes choosing presents to go in the box.
Kim H Date 11/19/2013
We have a newborn & toddler, so we are trying to start something similar. We have done Operation Christmas Child (where you pack a shoebox of gifts for a underprivledged child overseas) for several years through our church & plan on having our boys do their own & start paying for some of the items once they are older. We also limit how much we buy for them & try to keep the focus on Christ rather than stuff. I guess we'll see how this is working in a few years!
Gabrielle Lysenko Date 11/22/2013
I love the little cloth diaper Christmas ornament!
Christy Marsh Date 11/22/2013
That ornament is adorable. I really want to do gifts that are fair trade/for a cause this Christmas.
Heather Douglass Date 11/22/2013
I am really trying to limit the gifts, but we are still working on creating service traditions. It is really hard to create those types of traditions when one of your children is gone everyother weekend.
Mary S Date 11/22/2013
I plan on making the Christmas season more about giving than receiving as my son grows up.
Katy Coppin Date 11/22/2013
I love this...I was actually laying awake thinking/worrying about this the other night. I grew up with very generous Christmases as well as a tradition of remembering others over the holidays. For my girls, I want the focus to be on giving and receiving love, not things. Since my oldest is only two, I think we will start with visiting an assisted living facility and/or orthopedic ward at the hospital and distributing small homemade gifts.
Christina L Date 11/22/2013
I am hoping to limit the present/Santa Clause angle as my little one grows up. She will only be seven months this Christmas, but I'm hoping in the future to incorporate some of the ideas above and remember the reason for the season!
Leela Rao Date 11/24/2013
Christmas is always tough. Before we had kids we didn't do much for the holidays but traveled to see our family and spend time withy them during the holidays. Now that we have a son we are going to try and instill in him that Christmas is about being with family and not about getting things, although that will be tough as he is the baby of 7 cousins :)
kelly Date 11/24/2013
I love this! I think homemade gifts mean so much more
Kimberly Date 11/25/2013
Passing out gifts and/or food at the homeless shelter!
Mary Date 11/28/2013
I'm doing homemade gifts for our closer friends, mostly to save money.
Cheryce Morrison Date 11/29/2013
We've tried to make it a point to limit the number of gifts for our kids and each other, then we spend the "saved" money on Operation Christmas Child or the gift trees at the stores.