How Families Can Make a Difference During the Holidays

A picture of a child donating money
Teach your children valuable lessons about compassion and thankfulness that they'll keep with them throughout their lives. Photo © jsmith / Getty Images

It's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the holidays. Now's the perfect time of year to make a difference in your community while also teaching your kids how to be compassionate and thankful, though. Start an annual family tradition with five simple things you and your kids can do to help others during the holidays:

Volunteer

Yes, it's a busy time of year. But making the time to volunteer can have a dramatic impact not only on someone else's life but on your own as well.

There are plenty of ways you and your kids can help others during the holidays. Serve meals at a shelter. Pack up boxes at a food bank. Or, try a family-friendly charity event, such as a walk to raise money or an animal gala that lets your kids dress up their pets to raise funds.

Find Charities That Help Kids at Christmas

Kids love to help other kids. And we all know some children won't have a Christmas unless we help.

Find charities that help kids at Christmas. Your kids can buy toys for other kids, they can pack shoeboxes for kids who need everything from toothbrushes to school supplies or they can go to charitable websites to pick a child with a Christmas wish your child can help fulfill.

Buy Gifts That Give Back

As you shop this Christmas, each gift you purchase can also double as a charitable donation. Look for gifts that give back this holiday season.

Help your kids find gifts that give a portion of the sale's proceeds back to a charitable organization.

They can purchase everything from ornaments to sunglasses that pipe some of that money right back into a charity.

Make Cards for Vets

With all of the holiday madness surrounding us, we often forget our veterans. Teach your children a valuable lesson about veterans while brightening a vet's day with a Christmas card.

Make your own cards for vets. Your children are excellent storytellers through their pictures so they can draw, color or paint whatever they would like. If you're pushed for time, buy a box of Christmas cards and let your kids write their own special messages to the vets. Ask a local veterans hospital or The Red Cross where you can drop off your cards so they can be distributed to the veterans.

Carry a Cup of Change

Just about everywhere you shop during the holidays, you'll hear a bell ringer or see a volunteer outside of a store collecting money for a reputable charity. Instead of walking by every time, use this as a valuable lesson for your kids.

Carry a cup of change in your car. Every time you spot one of these non-profit groups collecting donations, grab a few coins from the cup in your car and let your child throw them in the bucket. Not only do kids think this is fun, they also know they're helping others.

Visit a Retirement Home

Retirement homes are a wonderful place to visit all year long. During the holidays, it can be especially lonely for the residents and they love seeing children.

Schedule a visit for you and your children, get your playgroup together or even gather the kids in your neighborhood to spend some time with these people.

The kids can bring their own Christmas cards to share with the elderly or get creative and plan a few Christmas carols the kids can sing to everyone while they're there.