We’ve been guilty of telling our kids Christmas—and life in general, really—isn’t about the getting, but about the gift of giving, and then we turn around and buy lots of presents!

Seeing the error in our ways, when our kids were older teens and before they flew the coop, we grew much more intentional about participating in activities where we focused on the needs of others. We scaled down our own gift-getting, and we’ve been happier for it.

Here are a few suggestions on how you can teach your kids the gift of giving and that it truly is better to give than to receive. 

If you’re also trying to set some traditions, here are 10 magical holiday family tradition ideas.

6 Ways To Teach Your Kids The Gift Of Giving

Here are a few suggestions on how you can teach your kids the gift of giving and that it truly is better to give than to receive. 

Drop A Quarter in Every Bucket

Years ago, I met up with a friend in Chicago. Each time we would pass a Salvation Army bell ringer and bucket, she would stop and put a quarter in. By the end of the day, we had stopped at a lot of those buckets! But my friend sold me on the tradition. Our family has been dropping quarters in those buckets every Christmas since.

Make a Mitten Tree

Make an evening where each family member gets $5.00 plus change for tax. Go to the dollar store and buy five sets of gloves, then use them all as ornaments on a tree in your house. This is a tangible way to see how all those gloves add up to keeping little fingers warm! Then on the day kids go back to school, they can take those gloves and donate them to their school.

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Serve A Meal

Several Christmases ago, we woke up early and went to our town’s alternative school where we served a Christmas meal to the students’ families. We didn’t keep up this tradition, but our kids, now grown, still talk about these occasions.

Operation Christmas Child

Our kids are out of the house, and we STILL do this one. We fill a shoe box full of items for underprivileged kids and drop them off at prescribed locations. This has been so much fun to do through the years. One of our adult kids who just recently got married has continued this tradition.

6 Ways To Teach Your Kids The Gift Of Giving

Toys for Tots

This is another big foundation that our family grabbed ahold of for awhile. The idea here is to purchase new toys and drop them off at a specific location. Then, those in need can come shop at that location, purchasing the items at a very low price.

Contact Local Churches, Organizations, and Shelters

Many churches and other organizations have lists of families who need help for the season. Our town has a food pantry. Our local policemen take kids shopping one evening, so we have donated money to that. And one of the churches organizes a coat drive we contribute our coats to. One winter we collected coats in our neighborhood and dropped them off at the church.

One final thought: Just ask your kids. They’ll tell you what they want to do to help others. The first Christmas we served a meal? That idea came from one of our kids, not Mom and Dad.

Here are a few suggestions on how you can teach your kids the gift of giving and that it truly is better to give than to receive. 

Tammy Tilley
Tammy Tilley
Tammy Tilley, mom of two adult children, cares deeply about parenting issues. Although she’s looking in the rearview mirror of her hands-on parenting days, once you’re a parent, you’re always a parent. She enjoys sharing a few memories and a touch of advice about spending energy on the things that matter. Tammy has a BA in English from Anderson University (IN) and a MS in Education from IUPUI.