Christmas is the season of the year where we want to do service for others. This might mean dropping our change in a bell ringer’s bucket or writing a check to our favorite charity. These can be great and meaningful ways to help others in the community, but wouldn’t it be great it we included our kids in our efforts? Here are 18 ideas that will help switch their focus (even for a few minutes) off of the “what am I getting” obsession of the season, and instead help them to think about how they can make a difference to their friends, neighbors, and global community.

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18 Ideas for Including your Children in Giving Back this Christmas

#1: Donate Outgrown Children’s Books to a Daycare, Children’s Center, or Shelter


My house is full of baby books that my kids have outgrown. Letting my boys collect those books and talking to them about how we’re going to give them to a smaller child who doesn’t have anything to read teaches them to give and to repurpose their stuff. Make sure to take your kids along when you make the donation.

#2: Make Small Gift Bags For Children In The Hospital

03 Children Give Back

If you’ve ever had to spend the night in the ER with your child, you’ll understand how boring that can be for a child (and also completely stressful for the parent). Creating a simple activity gift bag for children in the hospital is an inexpensive but valuable way to give. For about five bucks you can buy crayons, a coloring book, a puzzle, and another simple toy or game to go in a bag. At that price, you can get supplies for 5 or ten gift bags to donate to children in the hospital. Have your kids help pick out the items, color/decorate the bags, and go with you to make the donation.

#3: Purchase A Chicken Or Goat For The Needy In Developing Countries


Kids love this way to give. There are many organizations that will allow you to gift livestock to families in the developing world. Your child can help pick out the exact animal to gift and it creates an important opportunity to talk to your children about their citizenship in the global community.

#4: Give a Simple Gift To Your Mail Carrier To Raise Spirits During Their Busiest Season


With the advent of online shopping, mail carriers get slammed at Christmas. Raise their spirits by creating a simple gift to give them. (There are a million cute ideas on Pinterest.) Include your children by having them decorate the gift box or choose the treats to go inside. My kids love to run to the door when the Amazon package arrives, so you can make the kids in charge of making sure the driver gets his/her gift, too.

#5: Set up a Playdate so that Another Mom or Dad Can Go Christmas Shopping

Christmas Giving With Kids 07

For parents with young children, christmas shopping can be a real problem. They don’t want to take the kids along while they do it, but paying for a babysitter so you can go out and spend a ton of money is hard on the wallet. Christmas service to these parents could be as simple as having your kids invite their friends (and siblings) to come over for a playdate so that parents can get that Christmas shopping done. If your kids are old enough to babysit, they could offer to donate a babysitting session as well.

#6: Help an Elderly or Disabled Person Decorate for Christmas

08 Children Give at Christmas

My kids love decorating for Christmas, don’t yours? You can double their fun by looking around your community for someone who isn’t physically able to decorate at Christmas. Offer to bring your kids over and decorate their tree or hang Christmas lights. (Be sure to tell them you’ll come back after Christmas to help put stuff away!)

#7: Raise Money and Donate to a Clean Water Initiative

More than 840 million people don’t have access to safe water. Drinking contaminated water is one of the leading causes of illness in the developing world. It’s also a big problem for children (especially girls) who can’t go to school because they must spend hours a day collecting water. Teach your children about the blessing of clean water. As a family, come up with a plan for how you can help provide clean water to a community in need.

#8: Twelve Days of Christmas Porch Drops


Many families really enjoy the tradition of giving anonymous gifts for the twelve days before Christmas to a neighbor or family friend. If you’ve never heard of this before, it’s simple. You (and your kids) bake or buy simple treats—a different treat for each of the twelve days before Christmas. Then after dark each night, you sneak the item on to to your recipient’s front porch. Your children will love practicing their ninja sneakiness as they try to deliver the items without getting caught.

#9: Collect Winter Clothing (Old Or New) for Donation

Elderly woman puts used clothes in a big bag

In colder climates, homeless shelters, schools, refugee aid organizations and others are always looking for warm clothing to give out to those in need. Your kids will love learning to give and how to get rid of stuff at the same time. Start by having your children help you find outgrown (but in good condition) winter gear. If you still need more stuff, then expand your clothing drive to include your neighbors or church group. The kids can help make posters or by collecting items. Be sure to take them along when you take the donation to the drop off point.


May is a stay-at-home mom who writes to keep her kids in shoes and video games. She's a former high school English teacher and an avid follower of pop culture.