The winter holiday season is the perfect time of the year to teach the true spirit of the holidays. Involve children and teenagers in charitable giving and teach them why the old adage, “It is better to give than to receive,” is true.  

teach the true spirit of the holidaysHere are five great tips for parents to lead by example and teach the true spirit of the holidays:      

  • Consider do-it-yourself gifts, like no-sew fleece blankets that you can make with your children. Donate those blankets to a local homeless shelter. 
  • Cherish the stories of your family. Have your children talk to their grandparents and write down the stories of their past. Create a book to share with the entire family or record it online. 
  • As a family, select a charitable organization you’d like to support. Use online tools like Charity Navigator to find an organization that you trust. Give your children a budget and encourage them to decide how your family will donate to that organization this holiday. For example, flipping through the World Vision Gift Catalog will give children an idea of the difference they can make in other people’s lives.   
  • Work with your children to create a coupon book for your neighbors that might need an extra hand this year.  Coupons could include shoveling their sidewalk, watching their children or providing a meal. 
  • Bake cookies or sweets with your children and deliver them to your local nursing home or school-in-need. Get started with this list of holiday recipes

In addition to teaching children how to give during the holidays, it is equally as important but possibly even more challenging, to show teenagers the true spirit of the holidays. 

World Vision Teen Engagement Expert, Michele Tvedt has several tips for parents on how to teach the true spirit of the holidays

  • Start with conversation. Watch the nightly news together, and take time to discuss stories that touch on people struggling with poverty, unemployment or other tragedies. Let your teen lead the discussion and listen for them to express interest or passion in a particular social issue. 
  • Begin to give teens a voice in family giving. Let your teen know you would like to give a charitable gift as a family to mark the holiday season, but that you’d love to let them be the final decision maker. 
  • Take advantage of volunteering requirements that your teen may have to fulfill at school. Offer to help your teen find an organization that fits their interest. Keep in mind that teenagers are eager for authentic, powerful experiences. They will respond best to opportunities that allow them to experience poverty firsthand. 

“The holiday season can be a stressful time of year. There are gifts to purchase and wrap, cookies to bake, and family and friends to visit, but when we pause to help our neighbors in need, we all experience the holidays in a more meaningful way,” said Traci Coker, charitable giving expert and national director of WorldVision’s Gift Catalog. 

Teach the true spirit of the holidays this year with a new family tradition.


pat wymanPat Wyman is a teaching expert, best selling author and founder of HowToLearn.com . 

Pat suggests using these tips from World Vision to teach the true spirit of the holidays.