10 Ways to Give Back this Christmas

10 Ways to Give Back this Christmas SeasonSharing has always been a core value in our home. We taught our girls about sharing through their save, spend and share goals because we wanted to make sharing effortless yet intentional. I know many families share their good fortune, but too many of them do it without involving their children. You certainly don’t need to make your sharing public in an attempt to win accolades — that’s not the point of giving. However, as appropriate, you should make sure your kids are part of your family’s giving to help understand why it is important to you and to accept it as one of their core value’s too. It’s always been my experience the best way to teach kids is to give them firsthand experience and that includes how good it feels to give or share.

The Meaning of Christmas

Many people comment on how the real meaning of Christmas has become lost among all the consumerism. While kids throughout the years have always eagerly anticipated Santa Claus visiting their home, these days they are bombarded with images of things they must-have. It can make them lose sight of Christmas, which is why we, as their parents, have to make sure our kids understand why we celebrate Christmas.

The magic of Santa Claus lasts for a few years and we’ve truly enjoyed the girls’ delight on Christmas morning, but we’ve also made sure the girls knew the true meaning of Christmas. Another way we have helped shift focus from receiving gifts and the “I wants” is to emphasize sharing. While we share and give back year-round, our Christmas charitable giving is another way we celebrate the season and the birth of Jesus.

10 Easy Ways Your Family Can Spread Christmas Cheer

Here are some simple ways your family can make a difference this Holiday season.

Volunteer for the Salvation Army

Kids are used to seeing the Salvation Army red kettles and people ringing bells at stores. Talk to them about how that money is used to help others and encourage them to set aside some of their money to donate. If possible, you may want to take a shift yourself and have your child help you collect donations.

Adopt a Family

We do this every Christmas and the girls love it. Beyond purchased items, I also ask the girls to donate items from their closet and toy chest (I select a family with girls the same age). The girls deliver the gifts with me and they are almost happier showing the kids their gifts than they are unwrapping their own. There are countless organizations that can help you adopt a family but also consider going to your place of worship and school as another option to find a family in need.

Make Christmas Treats and Visit House-Bound Neighbors

Do you have any neighbors, family members or friends who can’t get around well? Bake some holiday treats for them and invite your children to help you deliver the goodies. Spend the afternoon or evening with them playing cards or games or just simply visiting with one another. Also see if they need help with anything that your kids can do for them.

Buy Presents to Donate to Toys for Tots

Not every child will receive a Christmas present this year, which is heartbreaking. My girls have so much, while I don’t want them to feel guilty about it, I do want them to recognize and share their good fortune with those less fortunate. Whether it’s family money, their own money or both, purchase some toys together to donate.

Send a Letter to a Solider

Our soldiers do so much to keep us safe, which typically means extended stays away from their loved ones. Write them a letter thanking them for their sacrifice and to let them know their service is appreciated. A Million Thanks is a great organization to send your letter to a soldier overseas or to grant the wish of an injured veteran.

Donate a Bedtime Story

One of my fondest memories is reading a bedtime story to the girls. Sadly, not every family has access to books. First Book gives children in need new books to keep and cherish. The simple act of reading a story together is such a powerful, bonding act that I want every child and parent to experience. This is one way to help make that happen.

Collect Food for Your Local Food Shelf

Food Shelves often have greater demand than product and Christmas is an especially busy time for them. Call your local Food Shelf and see what items are most needed. Consider hosting or arranging a food drive at your place of worship, workplace or neighborhood to help replenish their shelves in time for the holidays.

Support a Local Fundraiser

Do some online research and see which local charities or organizations are hosting fundraisers during December. Select one that means something to your family and support it — as a participant, volunteer or donating goods and/or cash.

Sing Christmas Carols at a Nursing Home

Get a group of your children’s friends together and take them Christmas caroling at your local nursing home. Kids love to sing and the residents will appreciate the good cheer and chance to visit with children.

Shop with Purpose

Make a point to patronize stores that donate a portion of their profits to charities as another way to help those in need. It’s a win-win to help people less fortunate while supporting businesses that helping your local community and beyond.

Making Sharing a Part of Your Christmas Traditions

These are just a few easy ways to incorporate sharing into your Christmas. They don’t take much effort but they can make a world of difference to the recipient. Plus, it teaches your kids that Christmas is more than just receiving the latest and greatest toy, but also about sharing blessings with others and how good that can feel.

How do you give back at Christmas or any time of the year?


December 7, 2015  •  28 Comments  •  Christmas

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  1. Monday, December 7th, 2015
    I like that volunteering is on here. For people who are on a tight budget without extra money to give, you can always volunteer and give time instead of money.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 10th, 2015
      Absolutely, Natalie. Giving back doesn't mean you have to give cash. Your time and effort can make just as much of a difference.
  2. Monday, December 7th, 2015
    Great list. We just donated a bunch of toys and we have been donating food through my daughter's school all year long. My oldest child really loves to give. My youngest doesn't care yet, but hopefully she will one day!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 10th, 2015
      Thanks, Holly! I love that your oldest daughter already has such a giving spirit. Taylor was slower to come around, but she did as I'm sure your youngest will as she gets a bit older.
  3. Monday, December 7th, 2015
    Awesome list Shannon. I didn't know about a few of them, so glad to have some new ideas of ways to give back. We like to do several things during this time of year as well as several times throughout the year as a family. Our daughter really loves to give so we want to encourage that and hopefully have it rub off on her brothers. :)
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 10th, 2015
      Thanks, John! Glad I could introduce you to some new giving ideas. I'm so glad that your daughter loves to give and it's definitely something you want to keep encouraging. Taylor wasn't too keen on sharing initially but seeing Lauren enjoy it so did rub off on her and she now loves to give too. Fingers crossed, your boys want to mimic their sister!
  4. Monday, December 7th, 2015
    I take part in an adopt a family type program, but I never thought about writing a solider. It's such a small gesture but probably means so much, so thanks for the suggestion!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 10th, 2015
      We adopt-a-family too and I think it's really good for Lauren and Taylor. Writing a soldier is such an easy thing to do and I imagine it makes a huge difference to them as I know it would for me.
  5. Monday, December 7th, 2015
    I love that this list is so kid-friendly. We wanted to encourage some giving this year by making our daughter put part of her allowance in a "Give Away" jar, and now's the time she has to decide what to do with it. This gives some other, more active ideas as well.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 10th, 2015
      Love that you had your daughter specifically put money away to give away. My girls love how good giving or sharing makes them feel and I know your daughter will too.
  6. Monday, December 7th, 2015
    These are all great ways to give back! Little things can change a person's life.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 10th, 2015
      Thanks, Michelle! I agree - little things can have a huge impact.
  7. Monday, December 7th, 2015
    My mom always took me to the Angel Tree (Salvation Army's version of Toys for Tots) and take a couple of kids' names. It was as much a part of Christmas as the presents for myself. I think it's a wonderful tradition that teaches kids to think of others rather than just their own wish lists.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 10th, 2015
      Absolutely, Abigail. It's one of the reasons we adopt-a-family too. To remind the girls to be grateful and acknowledge their blessings and to also recognize how they can help others. Like you said, it helps kids focus on something other than what Santa is bringing them.
  8. Monday, December 7th, 2015
    There is no better time of the year than to give back to those who have a need. And it's great to see kids catch the vision for giving when they are young. That's going to have such a positive impact (on them and others) as they grow into adulthood.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 10th, 2015
      I agree, Brian! It's really important that parents involve their kids, as appropriate, with their sharing. It does have such a huge impact on them and helping them develop that giving mindset at a early age is critical.
  9. Monday, December 7th, 2015
    Great ideas, Shannon! One thing I like to do each holiday season is meals on wheels. I've been doing it Thanksgiving morning for about 12 years now and plan on continuing indefinitely. I would like to do more around Christmas, though, and you've given me some great ideas.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 10th, 2015
      Love it, DC! What a fabulous way to give-back and help make sure families have a nice meal on Thanksgiving.
  10. Monday, December 7th, 2015
    These are all great ideas Shannon :) Some of these I wasn't aware of, like the writing to the soldier and donating a bedtime story. Thanks for the suggestions!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 10th, 2015
      You're welcome, Mackenzie!
  11. Tuesday, December 8th, 2015
    Excellent! These are all great ideas. We usually find at least one or two things to do every year to help those less fortunate during the holiday season, but we also try to be charitable throughout the year too.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 10th, 2015
      Thanks, Cat! Us too. We always like to do a few special things to give-back at Christmas but we also try to be charitable throughout the year too.
  12. Tuesday, December 8th, 2015
    We usually donate to toys for tots every year and we have my son go through the process of giving away his nice toys before Christmas starts. I know many places don't want use toys, but we like for him to get in the mindset of giving before he receives.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 10th, 2015
      Love it, Shannon! I think it is so important to help kids develop that giving mindset, especially this time of the year. It's too easy for kids to get caught up in the "I wants" and focused only on themselves.
  13. Tuesday, December 8th, 2015
    Thanks for this list. It's very important for those of us who are very lucky to remember those who aren't as fortunate. We usually try to adopt a family or child. This is a great reminder that I need to get moving!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 10th, 2015
      It is so important to recognize your own blessings and to give to those less fortunate. Working as a financial advisor for 23 years, I've seen people's lives turn on a dime and it's a constant reminder to give thanks and to give back.
  14. Wednesday, December 9th, 2015
    This Christmas is about giving back, Shannon. There are lots of reason why we should give back after all blessings we've received this year. I love the idea of singing Christmas Carols at a nursing home and will definitely form a group. I am excited about this. Thanks Shannon. Merry Christmas.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, December 10th, 2015
      Sounds like a wonderful plan, Diana. I'm sure the residents would be thrilled and it will mean a lot to them, especially those who don't have family nearby. Merry Christmas to you too, Diana!
  • Meet Shannon

    "As a Certified Financial Planner, it is my passion to help individuals and families build a healthy relationship with money. I look forward to helping you raise financially confident kids.” - Shannon Ryan