It seems to start earlier every year: the toy commercials and store displays. No wonder kids have a lengthy holiday wish list even before the Thanksgiving turkey is roasted. In a season meant to celebrate the joy of giving, getting seems uppermost in many childrens minds.
Janet Bodnar, senior editor at Kiplingers Personal Finance magazine, offers ways to change that focus. As a syndicated columnist, the author of four books, and a mother of three, she often deals with the issue personally and professionally.
How you nurture the spirit of giving depends on a childs age. A great way to start, however, is with the entire family. Rather than giving a child money to buy a gift for another family member, Bodnar suggests challenging them to think of something special they could do as a surprise gift for that person. It might be something the child makes or something he or she does, such as organize photos in a scrapbook.
Kids love the idea of surprising people in the family, Bodnar says. This is something you can do together and shows them that an expensive gift isnt always what people really want.
Outside the home, ask children what might be done for elderly neighbors or those they know who live alone. Churches and community organizations offer many charity opportunities.
For toy drives, have the child help pick out a toy for a child who needs it, or you can ask the child to find something in his own closet thats in good shape to give, Bodnar suggests.
The best way to instill the love of giving is for parents to make it part of the familys holiday tradition. Every year, her family invites people over who have no family or friends with whom to celebrate on Christmas Eve, Bodnar says.
They also host cookie parties, where friends and family are invited over to bake dozens of holiday cookies.
Years from now, they wont remember the big gift they got some year, she says, but they will always remember my cookie parties.