In this world of consumerism and blatant disregard for others feelings, wants, needs, and happiness, I think it is time to take a step back an look at what we are teaching the future generation. ( I am guilty also--I'm certainly not pointing fingers.) Knowing many of you out there are facing this same dilemma, I created a list of activities you can do with your children to keep the true Spirit of Christmas alive.
1. Bake cookies to take to your local nursing home, (some nursing homes may not allow this--you could also knit, crochet, or sew a small gift or ornament, or just go and visit with the residents there).
They may not be pretty but the kids had a blast making these cookies.
2. Volunteer at a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen if your children are old enough (or maybe a food pantry if you have younger children). Or take toys and games to a local Children's hospital and stay to visit and play with the children who have to be in the hospital this time of year. (Please don't take a sick child to the hospital to play with other sick children...we don't want to spread germs around. There are plenty of children in the hospital though who are not contagious--I would definitely call ahead for this one though).
3. Adopt an Angel from the Angel Tree and let your child help with the shopping. (If you need to answer Santa questions, remind your child of the gifts he or she gets from parents, siblings etc and that these moms and dads also want to be able to give their child something). There are other options here as well, such as Operation Christmas Child, Toys for Tots etc.
4. If you have the means, adopt a whole Christmas family! They may need everything from tree and trimmings to food for Christmas dinner as well as gifts for under the tree.
5. Make secret gift baskets for your neighbors. When you deliver the basket, ring their doorbell and run (the kids will love the "secret" part of this one.
6. Encourage your children to part with gently used books and toys they no longer play with. Explain that you will take them to a store where parents who can't afford new toys can buy them for their children. (Personally, I shop second-hand stores even when I have the means to purchase new...I find excellent deals on books especially).
7. Have a homemade Christmas where none of the gifts are store-bought. (Or you can allow your child to ask for only one or two special gifts and have the rest be homemade).
I made this "Rapunzel" hat for Munchkin last Christmas.
8. Shop local businesses instead of big box stores so that area merchants can have a good Christmas too. (Chances are, those gifts are of higher quality as well). Explain to your children why you are shopping local vendors. (I frequently order cupcakes or cookies from a local bakery even though I enjoy making those things for myself...it keeps my money in the community).
9. Make a big deal of it when your child does something to help someone else. Tell them how proud you are...they are more likely to do it again if you notice and praise them for it.
10. Take your children to church, not just at Christmas, but year-round. Pray for them and with them, remembering those less fortunate in your prayers. Opportunities to volunteer abound in churches...volunteer! Keep the spirit of giving alive all year. (If you don't like the church you previously attended or visited, keep looking...find the church God is leading you to.)
I hope this list gives you some ideas on how to keep the Christmas spirit alive in your family. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments section, and stay tuned for more Christmas posts and tutorials for hand-made gifts.
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