Becoming a "mature and responsible" mother of 3 has done nothing for my deathly fear of clowns or my love of cake frosting. Please follow along on The Todd & Erin Favorite or on Pinterest.

More from this author »

Teaching Children Charity During The Holidays

Teaching children charity during the holidays…


malibu barbie


One advantage of coming from a family of 7 children is that I knew perfectly well I was never getting Malibu Barbie AND her cool beach car AND her princess playhouse AND her fancy wardrobe.  I would get ONE of those things and I would be happy about it.   Everyone complains that “kids today are just so greedy!”   But in their defense, let me tell you that my marketing background is filled with alarming statistics about advertisers focusing in with a laser beam intensity on the most impressionable AND the most influential member of the household–your kid.  So seriously, don’t be too shocked when your offspring hands you an extensive list of requests, right down to the color, brand and code.

Add that carefully infiltrated avarice to the need to teach our kiddos the joys of charity and giving back–that’s a challenge.  Here’s some suggestions from the Smartest Mommies I Know:


what I want tags for kids for the holidays




  • Limit TV and computer time over the holidays: I know, easier said than done.  But it’s still easy to catch up on the holiday classics by popping in a DVD or jumping over to YouTube and then out again.  The less of the relentless barrage of advertising, the better.
  • Setting expectations early: I give the kids these tags to mark items they know they’d like to receive.  It also tempers expectations of a zillion, trillion presents and makes them ruthlessly pare down to what really matters to them.
  • Begin service in the fall when there’s more time: we start with The Backpack Project before school starts.  The twins save their allowance to buy backpacks, school supplies and personal hygiene items for the kiddos at the Road Home, our local family shelter.  They include a letter sending best wishes for a great school year.  The more opportunity our kids have to serve the little people who need their help, the better.  The twins and Zoe–after an initial case of shyness–end up hanging out and chatting like buddies.  Another great option is to volunteer with a church or work group to make and serve dinner at a shelter, bring a craft activity to make with the kids.  This helps my kids understand that they’re not giving to a faceless entity: these are friends.
  • One Toy In, One Toy Out: good for two purposes–teaching decluttering and helping kids make decisions about what’s really important, and what’s just taking up space.  One crucial caveat: the toy given away must be in good shape, and we have a discussion about why this toy would be appreciated by another child.  The kids and I clean up the toys, make them look great, and donate them.
  • A Gift To The Father On Christmas Day: you can make this suggestion totally non-secular, by the way.  We use this analogy to teach the kids that on the holiday we celebrate, they need to offer The Heavenly Father a gift in thanks for the gift of his Son to the world.  They select a gift from the among the ones they’ve received, we re-wrap it up and take the perfect, new gift to another child.  (Editor’s note: I try to not reference religion on this site too often–I think faith is a personal choice.  I used this only to show how we give thanks.  Your way will likely be even more brilliant.)


win a $50 Walmart gift card from the Todd and Erin Favorite Five


I hope these suggestions work for you, and I would love to hear some of the ideas and traditions your family uses.  C’mon, spill!  Advise us!  We’ll be giving a $50.00 Walmart gift for one of the suggestions posted here on Monday, December 2, 2013.


teaching children charity


Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Comment

Comments (6)

  1. Tabathia B 11/26/2013 at 9:54 am

    Well, since I have struggled in the past and have had family members suffer the same family, we have always donated and volunteered in the past. This year we will be donating time and toys to the Ronald McDonald house (where my oldest daughter in college has volunteered for the last 3 years) and donating food to the food bank and volunteering there on Saturday as well as donating some supplies to our local homeless shelter (we won’t have time to volunteer to feed this year) and we hope to have a family to help this Christmas through the Salvation Army/DSS with a few toys.

  2. Patricia 11/26/2013 at 9:59 am

    I have taught my kids they must give before they can receive. 1. We adopt a family for Christmas and 2. around Thanksgiving we donate our unused clothing, toys, etc…so that some other family may find use from them. As we have done this since they were little they find it odd that other people do not do the same. 🙂

  3. Amy Pullifrone 11/26/2013 at 10:13 am

    I have always started off small with my kids…we always do canned food drives and we also donate toys. We do a stockings for soldiers at my kids’ school where each grade level provides essential items for our soldiers. Tons of stuff, like soap, frizbees, gum, candy canes, cards and more stuff.

  4. Elise 11/26/2013 at 11:16 am

    In order to focus on giving instead of receiving our family would take turns, one at a time, going in a circle and giving our gifts to the other family members. This allowed us to see the joy on the receivers face and allow the receiver to show true thanks to the giver.

  5. Rachael Herrscher 11/27/2013 at 7:42 am

    Copying these awesome comments over from the Facebook post:

    Molly Borsh Bunker
    We do Operation Christmas Child. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

    Robin Reed
    teaching respect and kindness is essential everyday education

    Emily Johnson
    My children have to go through all of their toys and donate half to a local crisis nursery. They then deliver them, and often times they get to meet children who are staying there. It makes it very real to them, but it also makes it easier to freely give when they can see who is benefitting. It’s been our tradition since our first was a baby.

    Missy Sams Thorn
    We take the boys out for a random acts of kindness day…..we treat the firemen, police department and anyone else we feel needs some kindness by giving them thoughtful notes, cookies, or paying for things they are buying.

    Jennie Smith McDonald
    Donating their gently used toys to our local Helping Hands ministries, and a trip to the store for each child to choose a toy for Toys for Tots…it is a very hard discipline for them to concur each year because they so badly want to get one for themse…

    Ardelle Hamel Schmidt
    My daughter is in FCCLA, and every year they put on a charity dinner to raise money for presents for Christmas For Kids.

    Melanie Ann Comadena
    Similar to others. Starting as early as they can understand we select toys to give to those in need. Whether someone we know of a local charity.

    Kelly Humby-Tulk
    Giving out giftcards to retail workers on THANKSGIVING.

    Anna Marie McGowan Hutchins
    Last yr hubby and I adopted 2 Vets at our local Veterans home and then we took our 8 yr old daughter shopping for them she helped make candies and cookies an banana bread. the Sunday before Christmas she helped to make trays with the goodies and the wrapped presents and then she put on her Christmas dress and took the vets their Christmas. All this time there was only 1 present under our tree for her. We taught her that it was better to give than receive. On Christmas Day she had a good Christmas. Last week she asked if we were going to do that again. Lesson remembered.

    Lacey Judd Turner
    My children are very aware of those in need. And they’re only 6 and 8 yrs old. It’s important in our family. So, they adopt an angel that is around their age off of the tree in the mall. They shop for them and realize this may be the only gift this child receives, so it helps to make them grateful. Also, we go through our own closets and get together necessities for the homeless. When we see someone on the side of the road, we offer them a package. This year, we have a local children’s home we’ll be taking toys and clothes to donate. My boys are giving up some of their stuff so other children can have some, too. They’re super sweet kids!

    Michelle Dalton
    Each year for his birthday my son, who is adopted, requests items for the local Crisis Nursery (off of their wish list) from his friends instead of gifts. I feel it’s important for him to have compassion, empathy and to acknowledge children who are less fortunate and also to remind him of where he came from before/during foster care, so he is much more appreciative of his surroundings.

    Christina Ziegelmeier
    Always love to have kids help adopt a angel off christmas tree at school or church and they love it giving to others.

    • Erin Collard 11/27/2013 at 9:34 am

      Women–you constantly amaze me with your passion and your example! 🙂