Christmas time sometimes called the Advent season, is a time to celebrate the coming of Christ to earth as a man.
Many activities focus on giving in remembrance of God presenting His one and only Son, Jesus as the gift of hope to the world. (Romans 5:15)
Unfortunately, this season of giving can sometimes translate into a season of receiving in the minds of our kids.
How to Teach Your Children to GIVE During the Holidays
No denying it, receiving gifts is fun!
And we certainly want our kids to learn to be grateful, gracious receivers. But we want them to be more than that. We want them to develop generous spirits of giving as well.
After all, Jesus taught that it is “more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
To help facilitate mindful giving and minimize the spirit of receiving, our family started a new tradition a couple years ago.
Our Advent calendar contains activities intentionally focused on giving.
Let me say right away, this practice is not meant to add burden to our lives. It is meant to be a conscious living out of how Jesus came to serve rather than to be served. (Mark 10:45) Yes, that takes intentional thought and planning. And, yes, it requires more of us than we really want to give on certain days. We do schedule a couple unusual activities that take us out of our normal comfort zone. (Suggestions coming below!)
Mostly, though, we choose projects or activities that can be easily incorporated into our normal daily routine or Christmas festivities. When we make Christmas cookies (like Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints), we set aside some and choose a person to share them with. Fun Christmas crafts become simple cards or gifts to give away.
Hurried, flustered, obligatory service does not honor the Lord. 2 Corinthians 9:7 reminds us that God loves a cheerful, ungrudging giver.
I also think it’s important to note that this idea is not the same as “random acts of kindness.”
It is a deliberate choice to bless others as God has blessed us. Even when the gift or kindness is shown to people we don’t know, it is still a reflection of God’s kindness toward us. We may or may not have the opportunity to explain that concept to the recipient. What’s important is that we develop that mindset and motivation in our own hearts, so that if we are asked, “Why?” we can give an answer that points to Christ. (1 Peter 3:15)
Even when the gift or kindness is shown to people we don’t know, it is still a reflection of God’s kindness toward us. We may or may not have the opportunity to explain that concept to the recipient. What’s important is that we develop that mindset and motivation in our own hearts, so that if we are asked, “Why?” we can give an answer that points to Christ. (1 Peter 3:15)
So, how do we really make this happen?
First, I made a list of everyone who could receive our gifts as well as a list of kinds of gifts we could give.
Give Gifts TO:
People who serve us
People we don’t know
Ministries or organizations
Give Gifts OF:
Service or help
Next, I made a list of practical ideas.
It wasn’t fancy. I just scratched it out on a yellow pad of paper. Most of those ideas are compiled for you here. We have used many of them, but there are a few we’re still waiting to try. The link below the image will allow you to print the list (on 8 1/2 x 11 paper) for reference.
Then, I printed and framed Acts 20:35 and 2 Corinthians 9:7 to display on our mantel.
I also cut up 24 pieces of paper to write the activities on.
Lastly, we talked to the kids about the plan and had fun with it.
How to Set Up Your Own “Focus on Giving” Advent Activities
Ask God if this is an idea you should incorporate into your festivities this year. Decide if making it a daily habit is do-able for you. If that seems too daunting, make it a weekly activity and choose one day a week to turn little hearts and fingers to giving or serving.
2. Print out the “Focus on Giving” Advent suggestions.
Highlight or star the ones that interest you most.
3. Print and display Acts 20:35 and 2 Corinthians 9:7.
4. Cut 24 slips of paper to write your activities on.
One year I used pretty Christmas scrapbook paper and wrote the ideas on the white side. Last year I think I just tore up scrap paper!
5. Decide how you will present each day’s (or week’s) activity.
We use a quilted Advent calendar with pockets that hang on the wall. The chosen activities go into the numbered pockets for the kids to pull out. It you don’t have an Advent calendar system that lends itself to this, get 24 envelopes and label them 1-24. The anticipation of getting to pull out the slip of paper and discover the day’s activity helps create the joy.
6. Plan a time for December 1 to introduce the idea to your family.
- Start by reviewing God’s gifts to your family over the past year. Spend time thanking Him.
- Read Acts 20:35 and 2 Corinthians 9:7 and talk about fostering a generous heart and avoiding a spirit of receiving.
- Explain that you will be doing an activity that focuses on giving each day (or week) as you countdown toward Christmas.
- Discuss who you can bless with gifts and what kind of gifts or acts of service you can give. (Reference lists above for help.)
- Ask the kids for their ideas and add these to the printed list.
- Let everyone know that you will decide which activity fits each day best and they’ll find out what it is each morning. The surprise element adds to the fun.
7. Keep the “Focus on Giving” Advent suggestions handy.
At the beginning of each week, think through your days and decide which activities fit your life best. Write these out on the slips of paper and insert them into the Advent calendar pockets or envelopes. Sometimes I even decide the activities one day at a time. It’s also okay to switch the day’s activity before the kids open it! Keeping it flexible helps keep mom’s stress to a minimum!
8. Pick one day (roughly half way through) for the slip to read “Mom and Dad have a gift for you.”
This surprise lets you demonstrate cheerful giving. The gift can be any item or activity that will bless your children and encourage them for the way they’ve been blessing others.
A few other notes:
- It’s okay to spread things out over several days, especially if your kids are really young. Make the cookies or crafts one day and decide who you want to give them to (mailing works also). Make the delivery an activity for another day. When I can, I plan deliveries for times we’ll already see these people.
- The focus of this project is encouraging others focused mindset in our kids’ (and our own) hearts. Certainly, share the gospel hope of Christmas whenever you have the opportunity, but don’t feel like you have to force it into each exchange.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
Enjoy your new tradition!
Let me know if you have any questions, and I’d love to hear how you incorporate this idea into your family Christmas celebration.
Thank you, Abi, for some wonderfully practical ideas for teaching our children to give, to care, and to think of others during the holiday season. We really appreciate you sharing these suggestions and free printables with us! I believe so many families will be blessed by what you have shared with us!
If you’d like to find out more about Abi and her ministry, you can drop by and visit HERE.
Abi is an ordinary wife and mom serving an extraordinary God. She spends her days loving her husband and keeping up with their 5 colorful, noisy kids. At the end of the day, she looks forward to a quiet walk or a warm cup of tea and a good book. Abi blogs at Joy In My Kitchen to inspire you to glorify God and enjoy life with your family. You can follow Joy In My Kitchen on Facebook or Pinterest.
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