The holiday season is a wondrous time for children – and it should be! The magical lights, the enchantment of the snowy evenings, hot cocoa and decorating make the last couple of months of the year greatly looked forward to for most children. However, what kids might not think about is that gifts and other related things, cost money. You don’t have to take the magic away but it is wise to teach kids the value of money so they can appreciate the season even more.

Money Received as Gifts

Chances are good that your children can count on receiving money as gifts this holiday season. Far away aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas often send money as a quick convenient way to let kids get what they want, as keeping up with the latest video games and trends can be difficult.

  • Talk ahead of time about putting 30% of the money received into savings. Whether it’s college savings or saving for a new computer or a car, the idea of delaying gratification will help kids appreciate the value of the money they receive.
  • Determine what percentage they would or should give away to a charity. Have your child choose a charity that is important to them. It might be the humane society or a soup kitchen. Either way, talk ahead of time about where this money will go and then make a plan to send it.
  • Consider giving children gift cards so they can gain first-hand knowledge as to how much an item costs at a specific store, and how much they will need to save up for an item. This will make them more discriminating as well. If there’s a video game they want and they have half of the money for it in the form of a gift card, they will have to decide if they want something else or they can choose to continue to save.

Take them Shopping with You

When you go holiday shopping for other people (not your child, of course), take your child along and solicit their advice regarding what you think the friend or relative might like, and what they think is an appropriate amount of money to spend. Include them by having them give the cashier your card or cash so they can become aware of the process of gift buying.

Volunteer as a Family

The saying “time is money” is pretty accurate but what children should also learn is that time is an invaluable resource to give away when it is given to people in need. There are so many opportunities to volunteer over the holiday season. In fact, you might want to check far ahead of time if you plan on going to a soup kitchen as they are likely to be overrun with volunteers.  Consider these other options:

  • Zoos
  • Nursing Homes
  • Food Banks
  • Animal Shelters

DIY to Help those in Need

Helping your children discover that the holidays are more about giving than receiving can be a difficult task. It’s not impossible, however. The beauty of giving over the holidays is that there are a number of varying opportunities and you can choose just one or try them all out!

  • As a family, sit down and make bright and beautiful holiday cards. Homemade cards, especially made my children, have the power to brighten the holidays for people who are feeling down or need a little pick me up. Consider handing them out to policemen, firemen, EMT’s, veterans and even elderly neighbors who might feel shut in.
  • Create food boxes. Before packing these up make sure you call your local food pantry to be certain they need them. You might also ask what items they need. Often you’ll be packing rice, beans and other family-sized portions of non-perishable food items.
  • Make blankets for shelters. There’s a popular trend that even young children can take part in, and that is to make blankets simply by tying the ends together. There’s no sewing required so little fingers won’t get pricked!

Spread Joy

Whether you go from neighbor to neighbor and sing Christmas carols or pay a visit to people who are confined to care facilities or hospitals, smiling faces are just what the doctor ordered. Be sure to call ahead of time to be certain they are accepting visitors and the minimum age.

Teaching children that the holidays aren’t just about receiving, but giving of your time, money, and efforts is a great way to keep the season from getting out of hand financially.

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