This post is sponsored by Fidelity Charitable®, but, as always, all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.
Teaching my small people to be ‘givers’ has always been a priority in our family. It is easy to be a taker, and for many people, it’s the natural route they take as they grow. But what a beautiful world we’d have if giving was as much of a treasure as getting. Each year, as the holidays approach, we seek – and find – new ways to help people in our community.
If giving happens regularly, it will be a habit my children (hopefully) have for a lifetime. The joy of seeing that you have gifted to someone in a way that they need is a beautiful part of the process, and hopefully a feeling that makes us all want to do it again and again. Yes, it would be impossible for a child *not* to love receiving, but our goal is to help them to love working to make others happy as well.
To help you in your quest to share the gift of giving with your family, we’ve collected a few of our favorite ideas in the video below.
The Gift of Giving: Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference
We have found that some understanding starts with the age of your children and what exactly they comprehend. Most children can see the joy in someone’s face when we do something nice for them or give something small to improve their life in some way.We usually start with a good book or two to discuss the meaning of giving.
We are a family that loves to bake, and there are some lovely women and men at the nursing home who have very fond memories of baking in their home or with family. We arrange a day of baking with the activity director. Then we bring in the items to bake three types of cookies that the residents have requested. The favorites seem to be Snickerdoodles, Chocolate Chip and a Raisin Cookie. So we see if they have recipes and if not we bring our own. It is a day of fun and great stories.
Gift Giving Tree
We attend the local church and know there are many parents who struggle with having a good meal or a great Christmas for their child. They don’t want to be identified, so we set up the Gift Giving Tree. A parent may take a numbered tag and put the name of a gift on the tag that they would like their child to have. They then hang the small decoration on the tree. We purchase gifts and wrap them with the number on them. Whenever a parent sees the gift, they may claim it from under the tree. It is easy for the church members to take a numbered tag off the tree and purchase the gift.
Donate A Dinner
We have a few food banks in the area and there never seems to be enough meals to go around for everyone in need. We plan on shopping for two meals while at the grocery store and purchase the same things we buy for a gift basket for the food bank. We know it goes to a family in need and we love packing up the box and delivering it.
Adopt A Grandparent
Many of us are lucky enough to have our grandparents with us but even so adopting a grandparent is a good idea—especially if they do not have many members of family in their area or are not a grandparent yet. They usually love having some help and being included in the holiday fun. We usually go through our church or the local senior center to see who could use a fun family as a companion. We have developed some long lasting relationships through the years. My children have come to love having 4 or 5 extra grandparents. We will help them decorate their house, take them shopping with us, take them along when we ride around looking at lights, have them over for dinner and help us bake, help wrap their gifts and include them in our Christmas dinner.
What is a donor-advised fund? It is like a charitable investment account, but its only purpose is to support the charitable organizations you care about.
You can contribute cash, securities or other assets to set up a donor-advised fund with Fidelity Charitable, with as little as $5,000. You’ll be eligible for an immediate tax deduction, and the funds are used to support the charities your family cares about. You can also recommend how to invest the funds in the Giving Account for tax-free growth, and may end up with more to give as a result.
Wondering if you can support your favorite charity with Fidelity Charitable? I’m guessing yes, as you can support virtually any IRS-qualified charity, including churches, schools and PTAs.
Most people who use donor-advised funds end up giving more as a result…and that is the goal, yes? To maximize giving, to give to the charities that matter the most to you AND to model this type of giving for your kiddos.
Gift of Simple Time
Where else can we go? Well we have a local Children’s Hospital that seems the perfect place to try to spread cheer and also teach about how lucky we are to have our health. These children are brave souls and their families are strong and courageous. The spirit of belief and goodness is strong here and I can’t think of to many other greater places to expose our children to. Reach out to area agencies to see if they need extra help this time of year – from food banks to shelters, from children’s hospitals to your local library – extra pairs of hands can be an irreplaceable gift.
Socks and Mittens
We have noticed during the cold weather that many children don’t have on warm socks or have mittens. It may be by choice for some and others may not have those things or have lost them.
We provide, with permission, socks and mittens to the school nurse. We just deliver them in a box once a week through the month of December and if she calls us with a need during the winter we restock. It is our way of reconnecting with how lucky we are to have items to keep us warm.
Donate Christmas Swags
We have found that many of the tree farms cut off the bottom boughs of the tree and they never get used. We ask in the beginning of the season if we can have those extra boughs of pine donate to the area. We only purchase wire and ribbon and pine cones. We make simple swags and donate them at church to those who may not be able to afford decorations. They can also be donated to agencies to help the less fortunate such as domestic violence shelters or homeless shelters. My children learn about many different people in our community by doing this and become aware of what people may need to support them in a particular time of their life.
All the goodness in our hearts starts at home with each other. We work on promoting the art of giving in our own home also. We need to be giving to each other and the month of giving to others needs to include our own home. So we make an advent calendar of our own with each day having a way to recognize the other person in the house. We do a day of small gifts which could be a pack of gum or a cooked meal. Then a day of helping which could mean helping our sibling with homework or folding wash with mom. It is easy to come up with ideas for 24 days until Christmas. Hang up your family advent calendar for a surprise everyday. We set it up so we read the calendar in the morning and by dinner time we have followed it out for another member of the family. We have the time then to talk about it at dinner.
Thank you for reading along and maybe choosing a few ideas to do with your family. It is important to promote the idea of giving to others to our children so it does not become lost in all the commercial aspects of the holidays. I am sure everyone has other ideas on teaching the gift of giving and I would love to hear your thoughts.