I know that my boys are fairly typical in that other kids their age (5&7) think Christmas is about what they will get FOR Christmas. It is really important to me that they learn that Christmas is more than that, it is about giving and good will and so much more. I want them to grow up to be giving and caring men. I want to teach them that there is more to gifts than the kind you buy from a store. Service gifts are a great way to teach this concept during the Holiday season.This year they will pick out a toy each for a toy drive. They will take them to their school toy drive so they can feel good about giving. We also plan to do something similar for a food drive. The boys will be the ones to hand over the donation so that it can be something we do as a family and not just something my husband and I do.
Some ideas for Family and Friends: As part of your gift give them a coupon for something like:
-An outing for a day at the zoo, a day at the park complete with picnic lunch, going out to lunch, a movie together, ice skating, or a trip to a store to pick something out. Something they would enjoy doing with you.
-for baby sitting so parents can go out on a date
- for making a meal
-teaching a skill (sewing, crochet, knitting, a sport, cooking, building something, making something, music lessons, art lessons) anything that the person would enjoy (give them something they need for the activity with a card stating your intentions.
-Instead of just a gift certificate, add in that you will take them to spend it. Perhaps plan on getting a drink (like hot chocolate) or bite to eat while out.
-for a day of help doing what ever. (cleaning, fixing something, remodeling something, yard work, painting, etc)
- for nieces and nephews and really good friends you can invite them over for a sleep over complete with an activity in mind. Years and years ago when Erika was little we would have her over for the weekend after Thanksgiving. She and I would spend the weekend crafting and making gifts to give to the family. I enjoyed those weekends, I think she did too.
-for older nephews consider a day of computer gaming, play a game that can be networked with two computers or on a video console. For more involved adventure games why not plan a game day one day a month till you both get tired of the game or till you complete all the levels. This is especially good for nephews that may not have their father in their lives. On line games are especially good if you don't live near by. Not into video games, why not get together to play a sport together.
The big theme is to not just give them a gift but to give them the gift of your time. So much of the time we have no time to stop and bond with extended family members. We get so caught up in the day to day that we forget that we have an opportunity to help mold other children in our lives. We can be mentors and help give them a more rounded education on what family is really all about. If you give a service gift make sure it is something that you will keep your word on. As soon as possible sit down with the person and mark a date on your calendar. It should be something that you can start or fulfill with in the next month. The only problem with gifts like this is that you can't say you will do it and not schedule a date because it is likely it will never happen. Perhaps you can feel out what the person's schedule is like ahead of time and even choose a date to put on the card/coupon. This is something that can easily be done with kid's gifts because you can ask their parents what a good date will be and get it on the calendar. With adults it is a little harder. If you are offering a day of help, it may be best to give them 3 or 4 dates to choose from that are good for you. If you are making a meal for some one, you should consider making something that can be frozen and baked when they need it or that will reheat well. Meals are great for new parents because often times they are getting use to a new schedule (even if it isn't their first child). A prepared meal can be heaven sent when new parents are just too tired to cook or go out to get something.
For the Community/neighborhood:
-Doing little things for neighbors you know are having a hard time.
-If you know they are tight on money you could....give them a gift certificate so they can get a few things from Christmas, I gave a gift certificate for a pet store to someone who has lots of animals.
-Helping an elderly couple with yard work, putting up Christmas Decorations and such things.
-Visiting a nursing home, have the kids read them a Christmas book.
-Do little things like take a plastic shopping bag with you when you go for a walk. Pick up trash you see as you walk.
-Talk to your neighbors about doing a block party.
No deed is too small. The idea is to think of what you can do to make the season a little brighter for others. It does not have to cost you anything but time and a little tough. Some times all it takes is to slow down half a second and give somebody the right of way on the road. If somebody is lifting something heavy, why not help? The best way to teach our children is by example.
Anjeanette jumping in! I LOVE this subject! Seriously, I think it is so important for my boys to learn about service and thinking of others. When my 1st son was born, we started choosing a tag from an Angel Tree, usually at the mall. We look and look for a tag for a child the same age as our sons and pick out things our kids would LOVE to have. We talk about why we are giving a gift to other children. We talk about how fortunate we are to have the things we have, our house, our family etc.
Our siblings this year have decided that the gifts we give to our nieces and nephews are going to be service gifts. Erika gave Rebecca's daughter a coupon for a day of baking together for my niece's birthday. We all thought that was such a great gift that we decided that is what we are going to do this year. The gift of time is a much better gift in my eyes than another toy. Hopefully we will also be building great relationships and memories with our sibling's children.
Another thing we do to help our kids think of others has to do with the red buckets that are everywhere right now. I normally don't carry any money on me. But I try to keep some small bills on me from November through December. My kids get very excited about putting money into those buckets. I give them each a little bit to put in with their own hands. They really think that is neat. It is particularly cute to me because often they have to really reach their little hands to get to the bucket. (We do that other times of the year too. Particularly when it is the Veterans. And when it is a Veteran, I also have taught my kids to say "Thank YOU!" to them.)
And my last service gift is something my Mom did with us when we were small. At church one year, they made some wood mangers. They were about a foot long and pretty good sized. Mom had a stack of hay next to it. When any of us saw another family member doing something nice for another person, we got to put a piece of hay in the manger. The idea was to have the manger full of hay in time for Christmas Day (for the arrival of Jesus of course). This was fun and we all tried to *catch* someone else doing something nice so we could put more straw in the manger. I think it is a great way for small children to think of something outside of them self.
Thanks Katrina for such an idea packed post! I love the topic and got a bunch of good ideas too;)
I would love to know what you do as gifts of service during the holiday season?