Holiday Spirit: Teaching Thankfulness and Battling Greed December 03, 2012 10:24

One of my biggest goals as a parent is ensuring that my children grow up with a real sense of appreciation for how truly blessed they are, and a deep responsibility for serving others. The holidays provide a unique teaching opportunity to help instill these values, but it is juxtaposed by the challenge of keeping our feet on the ground when it comes to gift wish lists, shopping and general overindulgence.

Setting a good example is priority number one. Our children largely emulate us as parents and grow up with the values they see us demonstrating. I am a person who easily gets drawn into the hubbub of the holidays, but I have been making a strong effort lately to tone it down so my children take to heart the importance of giving, appreciating and reflecting during this special time.

Here are a few ideas I’ve read about lately or that our family has implemented for making the holidays extra special, while sending a positive message to our children:

1)   Adopt a family in need and provide them with a generous Christmas; or as I remind my family, ‘give until it hurts’

2)   Take a new twist on Advent Calendar ‘treats’; instead of candy or trinkets, provide notes to your children, a coupon for a family adventure, a charitable assignment and other sentiments that encourage family bonding rather than consuming and wasting

3)   Encourage your children to choose one toy they receive as a gift and give it – new and unopened – to Toys for Tots or another charity

4)   Limit spending so gifts are about the thought rather than the price tag

5)   Talk about what’s really important and engage in community holiday activities that bring people together

6)   Shop small and don’t get too caught up in the hustle and bustle

7)   Gift donations to charities that have a significant meaning for the recipient

8)   Ask your children to make gifts, rather than buy them, for their loved ones

9)   Use your children’s artwork from school to create gift tags, greeting cards and wrapping paper – this makes them feel special and saves waste

10)  Spend quiet time together reading holiday stories, enjoying your favorite holiday movies, cooking and sharing traditions

Here are a couple articles with some great ideas – these provided my most recent inspiration, and reinforced some of the things we were already doing: