Simple ways to serve with your kids this holiday season
The holidays are often filled with shopping, baking, and a million other little things. If we aren’t intentional, the holidays will fly by in a blur and we will be left wondering how we missed out on things we wanted to do with our kids.
Serving others is important to our family. I want my kids to grow up looking beyond themselves, and being intentional about serving others with our kids during the holidays is a great way to reinforce this. Serving with kids — especially young kids — is not always an easy task, so here are some tips to keep in mind.
Keep it short
Know your child’s limits and try to work within them. Everyone will end up miserable if you are spending hours serving meals with a 3-year-old.
Prep the kids beforehand
Take the time to sit down with your kids and explain what you will be doing and why. For example, if you are taking treats to a nursing home, make sure to discuss who the residents are; what to expect while they are there; and how to respond when someone talks to them. The more information kids have beforehand, the more comfortable they will be.
Let the kids take ownership
If possible, find ways for your kids to have a specific job or role. Let them take some ownership in what you are doing. In the case of visiting a nursing home, instruct the kids to make homemade cards to hand out to residents.
One of my favorite things we do is take food to the food bank in our area. I purchase items off the center’s wishlist — like peanut butter and beans — but also allow the kids to pick out five of their favorite food items to donate. They often pick macaroni and cheese, their favorite cereal, cupcake mix, and even Gerber puffs and baby food on behalf of my youngest. The kids love to contribute and, by letting them pick their own items, they can better connect with the other kids who pick out the food items my kids brought in.
Take the time to talk about how it went. What went well? What didn’t? How do they feel? How do they think the people they were serving felt? Give them the opportunity to talk and share with them what you noticed.
Need some ideas you can do with your kids?
- Holiday toy drive
- Donate to your local food bank
- Visit a nursing home
- Bake cookies and make cards for neighbors
- Take care packages to a local homeless shelter or hand out the items to the homeless
- Make and send cards to military members overseas
- Make treats for firemen or police officers
- Donate items to a local Ronald McDonald