The holidays are a time of tradition, connection, and memories. That makes December a great time to introduce your kids to the joy of giving back. We’ve gathered six ways to build meaningful family traditions for you below that teach your little ones to make a difference this season.
How Giving Back Supports Childhood Development
Did you know that helping others can positively impact your child’s development? A study from Fidelity Charitable shows that individuals who grew up with strong giving traditions are most inspired to donate and volunteer more time in adulthood than those who did not.
Teaching children to associate holiday traditions now with quality time and connection over toys and other gifts helps them grow into well-rounded adults. Acts of selflessness instill values of gratitude, respect, empathy, service, and optimism. Psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD, says that helping others introduces benefits to both their physical and mental health.
Let’s dive into creative ways to give back as a family this season, beginning with free activities and opportunities.
6 Ways Kids Can Give Back During the Holidays
- Volunteer in Your Local Community
Begin with hands-on experience that supports your local community. Introduce your kids to an organization that educates them about a need close to home. Here are just a few kid-friendly opportunities in the South Los Angeles neighborhood to kickstart your search:
- Assemble care packages for the homeless with Bright Path Center to bring essentials to those in need.
- Fill a welcome home box with GoBe to greet someone moving into a house from the streets.
- Spend a day as a pet shelter greeter at Pasadena Humane to help families find a furever friend.
- Help Families Fight Hunger
One way to demonstrate the value of giving over receiving is to donate your pantry items to a family who needs them more. Make a day out of raiding your home to gather a bag for a weekly Let’s Be Whole food distribution event. Add in your favorite baking mixes or holiday-themed snacks to add a special personal touch.
- Host a Winter Clothing Drive
Organize a winter clothing drive to help kids practice their leadership skills. Have them name the event and get creative with flyers to spread the word. Choose a designated donation box location to collect donations from schools, churches, or community groups. Wrap up the experience by taking a family trip to a local Los Angeles charity, such as The Midnight Mission.
- Random Acts of Kindness
What’s more satisfying than the feeling of doing something kind when it’s least expected? Help your kids to choose acts of kindness for each week in December using this list of ideas as inspiration:
- Pay for someone in line behind you at a local cafe
- Leave a gas card at a local pump
- Share a kind note in shopping baskets at a local market
- Create gift bags for local delivery workers to take as they drop off packages
- Deliver baked goods to local hospital staff, fire stations, or schools
- The Lost Art of Handwritten Letters
Remind young ones that buying is not a requirement in supporting others. Plan a letter-writing day to help them turn their words and creativity into someone else’s brightened day. Connect with a local nursing home to get the names of residents who can use some seasonal love. Personalize the letters to each recipient and hand-deliver them to demonstrate the impact of generosity.
- Fulfill Another Family’s Holiday Wish List
As your kids become more passionate about giving back, LA county’s Adopt-a-Family Program is a beautiful tradition. Teach them how making another child’s holiday memorable makes yours one to remember too. The program matches you with a recipient family and their wish list to make it simple to gather the whole crew for a day of shopping for others.
Make it a Holiday to Remember
No matter what activities you choose to join as a family in the spirit of generosity, you’re shaping your children’s character from an early age. Remember to praise their willingness to give so they can truly enjoy the joy of making a difference.