The festive season is a time for giving and for those with children, there’s nothing quite like seeing the joy on their faces when they open their presents at Christmas.
But you can also use this time of year to teach your children a meaningful lesson – by giving them the gift of learning what it means to give to others. We’ve put together a list of five ways to teach your children about the gift of giving, and to do some good yourselves while you’re at it.
Clear out and pay it forward:
All children, from the toddler years to the late teens, grow out of their clothes at high speed. And if they haven’t grown out of it, they’re over their former favourite wardrobe items and on to the new trend before you know it. The same goes for toys and books – there will always be the special ones that go into storage, but much of it could be given away without leaving a hole in your heart. If you’re planning on giving your children new clothes, books or toys for Christmas, why not clear out at the same time, explaining to them that there are other many children that don’t have things and for Christmas, it’s a good idea to pass on what we no longer need or use. Ask them to help you choose those things that are in good condition that they can pass on. You’ll be teaching them to think further than themselves and to consider where things come from and where they go. You can donate bags full to charity or even individually wrap items for people who need them. Just make sure what you’re giving away is still in good condition and not worthy of the bin.
Treats for their friends or teachers:
When your child isn’t planning their own Christmas wish list, they’re probably also trying to think of something special to give to their friends. Or maybe you need something you can send with them to school as gifts for the teachers who’ve been working hard to mould their young minds throughout the year. A stack of beaded bracelets from 100% not-for-profit social enterprise Relate Bracelets comes with 10 bracelets which can be given as friendship bracelets or sweet, thoughtful gifts for teachers. And the money you’re spending goes towards social upliftment and supporting charities. Each of the 10 bracelets in the Relate Bracelets Christmas Stack (available from www.relate.org.za) supports a different charity – including the Reach for a Dream Foundation, the Amy Biehl Foundation, Goodbye Malaria, the Shine Centre, the Rotary Safewater Project and Ikamva Labantu. A third of the profits go towards these trusted and transparent charities, while another third goes towards Relate Bracelets’ beaders and closers, giving them upskilling and earning opportunities. The last third is used for materials, so every cent goes directly to South Africans who need support. You can use this as an opportunity to explain to them that not all products are made the same, and that some have more intrinsic value than others, because of who made them and what happens to the money you spend on them.
Volunteer as a family:
Plan a family day out volunteering for a worthy cause or charity in your community. Whatever you choose to do, you can use the opportunity to give back within your community and teach your children that Christmas isn’t just about getting presents. Maybe you can make it a family tradition and support the same cause or a different one every year. It’s a great way to help others while spending quality time with your family on a worthwhile experience that you will always remember.
Spread the joy of a full stomach:
Many of us might be accustomed to the sensation of a full belly after an epic festive feast. When you’re doing your Christmas grocery shopping list, why not add ingredients for a mound of sandwiches to be distributed to homeless people in and around your area. Or you can use the leftovers from your Christmas lunch or dinner for fillings. Get your children to help butter the bread or even just make piles of finished sandwiches. The time spent together is as valuable as the lessons they’re learning. Making and distributing the sandwiches serves as a fun family activity too!
Set a budget for charity shopping:
Teach your children that it’s not all about the brand and set aside a family budget for spending together at charity shops. You could find some great treasures as gifts for each other, or perhaps even the odd novelty gift, and the money you spend will go right into the charity the shop is supporting. Many charities rely on not just donations, but the income generated from their stores. A list of South African charity shops is available online at http://www.charitysa.co.za/charity-shops.
This article was first published in the 8 December 2014 by Tums 2 Tots and is available online here.