Sometimes the holidays can feel like it's more about getting than giving. As you prepare for this festive season, here are a few tips to get your family, especially the younger members, to get into the spirit of giving.
This is the perfect time to ask your children to look through their toys to see what they have outgrown, and might be willing to pass on to other children. One of the cutest ideas we've heard at West Michigan Woman is to collect those toys in a bag to leave under the tree on Christmas Eve, for Santa to pick up and re-distribute. If your children are a little older, you could drop their donations off at your favorite local non-profit earlier, in order to make your donations availabe to low income familes before the holidays. Older children might also enjoy shopping for Toys for Tots or other gift-matching programs. Many charitable organizations provide specific wish lists for individual children or families, and buying for them can be quite eye-opening for more priveleged children, helping them to realize just how blessed they are.
As we unpack those totes of garland, lights, and other décor, the amount of decorations we've collected over the years may seem a bit overwhelming. Before you start to hang up or find coffee table space for every decorative item you own, consider adding a charitable giving component to your decorating process. Buying holiday decorations may be beyond the budget of many who are struggling financially. As you decorate your home, consider relegating a specific tote or shopping bag for donations for one of your local charity resale shops. We all have "almost new" items that may have been given to us as gifts that aren't really our style, or items we just don't have space for. Consider which items will be the focal points of your décor, have great sentimental value, or serve a functional as well as decorative purpose. Those items definitely get to stay. But as you sift through the remaining items, think about which ones it might feel good to give away to help another family.
Winter clothing is another area where less fortunate families may be struggling. At our house, those first cold days often reveal that coats, mittens, and boats have been outgrown, and the hunt is on for new items. Add those items of winter clothing that your kids can no longer wear to your collection of winter items to donate. And, the next time you're out shopping, pick up a few pairs of new, warm socks to donate--they're a much-needed item that don't often turn up at resale shops.
Finally, put that bag or box of donations into your vehicle, so the next time you need to run an errand, you can simply drop it off at your local charity resale shop.
Written by Jennifer Reynolds, contributing writer at West Michigan Woman Magazine.