One of the best ways to teach kids kindness and to encourage a grateful spirit during the winter holidays is to let them give. Encourage your kids to share! Or better yet, invite them to play Santa for kids who may otherwise not get a visit from the jolly old man.
Trust your kid
Trust that your kid knows how to think like a kid and knows what other kids would want. Let them choose what to get, within budget of course. If it doesn’t seem like something that makes a good gift, get them thinking by asking the following questions:
- What does this gift do? How can it make the recipient’s life better?
- How do you think they will feel when they open this gift?
- Why did you choose this gift?
Research places together that welcome gifts from Santa
There are wonderful organizations who take unopened gifts, such as the USMC’s Toys for Tots. There are other organizations who work directly with children in the community. Not only is this a good exercise in learning about your local demographics, it’s an opportunity for your child to see how he/she can help in a way that feels tangible. It also is a reminder that suffering isn’t something that happens from afar-it happens close.
Play Secret Santa
Get everybody in your playgroup, neighborhood, or school together to play Secret Santa. Rather than purchasing gifts though, encourage the kids to make something or write a letter. Then, meet together for food and fun to exchange the gifts. Each kid essentially gets to play Santa. Oh what fun! Gifts don’t have to be super fancy or cost any money. After all, the point is to learn how to think about others, share, and give from the heart.
Drop off essentials
Play Santa almost for real, by dressing up and creating care baskets. In the baskets, make sure to include essential items such as toiletries, snacks/food (preferably non-allergenic), socks, and something special, like a gift card to a store. Drop off these care packages to nursing homes, apartment complexes, daycares, children’s homes, or anywhere people might not always get gifts or visitors. Maybe even have your child write a letter or draw a picture that would lift up others.
Think of all the ways that your child could recreate the magic that is Santa, or rather, the spirit of Santa in their ability to give and share kindness. Watch as your child comes up with unique ideas and as their heart, and your heart, just swells in kindness and compassion. Both are worthy gifts year round!