Wants and wish lists can often overtake the true meaning of the holidays – giving back. While adults may realize it’s better to give than to receive, teaching kids this mantra can be tricky. The best way to impart this wisdom on your children is to show them, not tell them. Here’s a few ideas on how you can do just that this December:

Gifted.

With all the consumerism and festive frenzy, it’s easy for kids’ toy chests to overflow after all the presents are opened. This year, before your family opens a single gift, have everyone go through their belongings and select two or three gently used items (toys, books, clothing) that they have grown out of or no longer use. Gather these items and donate them to charity.

Kids will learn the importance of giving to those less fortunate while at the same time make space for new things so your home isn’t overflowing with excess stuff.

It’s a Family Affair. 

It’s easy to participate in various charitable drives individually but it really drives the message home when you work together as a family unit.  Consider volunteering as a family at a local soup kitchen or food bank. Working with a group will allow you to spend some quality time together and at the same time show children that you are committed to investing your time to worthwhile causes.

It’s all in the Neighborhood. 

If you’re feeling ambitious, consider making an even bigger impact for a local charity by doing a drive with your neighbors. Kids can go door-to-door dropping off flyers promoting the drive and you can get involved by hosting a holiday get-together at your home. Invite neighbors over for an afternoon of festive cheer where the price of entrance is an unwrapped new toy or a non-perishable food item. The kids can be responsible for collecting and sorting the items as people arrive. You’ll not only be able to make a bigger donation to a local non-profit organization but you will also have the opportunity to get to know your neighbors a little better.

Giving back to the community as a family will create a lifelong commitment to charity for your children while increasing the quality time you spend together during the hectic holiday season.  And, the charities won’t be the only ones reaping the rewards – you’ll create memories that will last a lifetime.