I want!  I want!  I want!  I want!!!

Um, no.

While we all love to gift our children with incredible gifts, we can’t underestimate the gift we give them as we teach them the art of giving.  It truly is better to give than to receive.  Teaching our kids to see the needs of others, to reach out in compassion and the blessing of bringing joy to others will serve them far greater throughout their lifetimes than anything we could ever give them in a box.

1. Lead by Example

Even at an age where many kids and teens are trying to develop their own identities, and those often as far from being like mom and dad as possible, they are still ever-learning by the lives we live and the examples we set.

Before suggesting, “why don’t you try doing something for others…” be sure you set the pace by not just giving to them but by letting them see you giving to others outside your home as well.

2. Make It Joyous

Serving others need not be a miserable chore or sacrifice for the giver.  While our giving should be with the intent of bringing great benefit and happiness to those we’re serving, we can and should make it a joyous occasion for all.

Get kids together for packing parties for gifts going out to those in need, children or seniors.  Make it a tradition where the family gets together for (healthy) snacks or (healthy) cocoa for a time of games and crafts alongside gift-prepping or even just brainstorming on ways to get out and serve.

Make the time of giving fun and full of laughter where possible.  The joy will be contagious and just keep multiplying.

3. Do It Often

While the Christmas season tends to prompt us to remember the needs of those around us, our efforts should not be limited to November-December.  Giving is not just something we do to celebrate a holiday.  We live as givers and people willing to serve the needs of others because, well, that’s just what we do – even when others don’t.

Teaching kids to look for ways to bless and touch the lives of others helps them learn to SEE others, to look more deeply into the eyes and hearts of others in a world that otherwise leaves them desensitized to those around them.  We get so distracted with technology and the pursuit of stuff for self that it can be frighteningly easy to forget that this world is full of billions of people living so many differing lives around us – lives that can be impacted in HUGE ways by even the simple acts of kindness and thoughtfulness that help them see they’re not just another face or profile pic amongst the crowd.

People are incredibly valuable yet we often struggle to see the value in ourselves.  Yet, how much are we blessed by those that would come alongside us and even care to brighten our day, not just because it’s Christmas or Thanksgiving but because, to someone, we matter all year long.

4. Be Creative & Timely

Some gifts are always in-season (hot, home-cooked meals, toys for kids…).  However, there’s also something special about coming up with creative and timely gifts to meet other’s needs “in-season” in terms of annual seasons or the seasons of life others are in.

Brighten another’s spring with some flowers for their garden or their winter with a bird-feeder to bring birds right to their window.

Help someone going through a stressful time with chamomile teas or gifts for a massage.  Or, gift them with your time and effort by helping them take care of a task that would lift the weight from their shoulders.

There are many gift ideas for any number of occasions.  Get the whole family involved in brainstorming to think up the coolest, most creative ways they can bless the lives of others.  Not only will this teach them to enjoy giving all the more but will also deeply touch others as they see the thoughtfulness behind the gift.

5. Count Your Blessings

It can be easy to overlook the needs and lives of others as our blessings become such commonplace to us.  Making it a point to count our blessings exercises our gratitude and increases our enjoyment of the many extras we have.  In recognizing that those things are “extras” that many don’t have, we better see where we can bless others and are often spurred on to greater giving.

What are some of our favorite ways to give and encourage giving in your family?

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