“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” &mdashSimone Weil, french philosopher
Christmas has become synonymous with overconsumption. This year, why not give of yourselves as a family by offering quality time to your loved ones and getting involved with charities in your area? (We suggest a few, but our lists are far from exhaustive!). Modelling the values of sharing and solidarity is one of the best gifts you could give your children.
Each year, around the holidays, there are numerous calls for generosity: food drives in schools and door-to-door, donations in stores and more. Thousands of volunteers donate their time and all helping hands are welcome, even small ones! Ready to give a bit of your time this holiday season? Here are five ways to get your children involved and make the practical enjoyable.
1. Give to those who need it most
Christmas baskets and donations
Gather the family and clean out your closets and cupboards. Set aside gently-worn or gently-used items to donate. Want to make it more magical? Prepare beautiful Christmas baskets with your children, filled with food staples or clothing, depending on the organization you’ve chosen to help.
Distribute warm clothing
If you have coats, hats and mittens to donate, consider offering them directly to homeless people you see in the streets. You can even nurture the Christmas spirit by wrapping them in a beautiful gift box. This year, hand out warmth and joy!
2. Help cook or serve a community meal (and wash up after!)
Volunteer in a soup kitchen
Some homeless shelters would be glad to have you help cook or serve a meal. Is there a recommended age? Not really! There are tasks for all ages, interests and concentration levels. Many parents believe that if their children are exposed to the difficulties some people face, they will better appreciate how lucky and privileged they are. Volunteering in a soup kitchen is an adventure that will stimulate children and open their mind from a young age.
Why not prepare simple dishes, snacks, hot chocolate or coffee as a family to hand out to homeless people in your neighbourhood? It’s one of the most direct ways to help those in need. It’s also a great way to involve your children because they can help with every step, from preparation to distribution.
3. Find volunteer activities for young and young at heart
Read stories or sing in a choir
Hospitals for children, senior residences and other organizations are looking for volunteers to read to patients or residents, or even sing in an intergenerational choir!
Opération Nez rouge (designated driver service)
Have a driver’s license? Why not help keep the streets safe by being a designated driver for an evening? It’s a great way to show how responsible you are. You can even team up with family members (who are of age). You’ll have a great time and meet new people!
4. Show Mother Earth that you care about her
Opt for eco-friendly gifts
The holidays are the perfect occasion to make your own decorations, gift wraps and Christmas cards as a family or to exchange handmade or recycled gifts. There are also several charities looking for gift-wrapping volunteers, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, looking for wrappers at several shopping centres. Inquire at the shopping centre nearest you!
Buy a potted Christmas tree
Make the Christmas spirit last longer while helping your kids develop a green thumb! It’s time to say goodbye to cut and artificial trees. There are more eco-friendly options, like a potted fir tree. If you take good care of it, it could brighten up your home for many Christmases to come, while saving you money and reducing your carbon footprint! And that’s without mentioning the joy of seeing how much your children and the tree have grown, year after year! If the tree gets too big, you can also plant it as a family.
Visit the nursery near you.
A little trick: some nursery close in autumn, so go visit them before their closing. In addition to discounts and special offers, you will find an interesting choice of small natural trees - perfect for your Christmas Eve celebrations!
5. Give your loved ones something money can’t buy
This Christmas, give your loved ones something different. Offer to babysit for them, run errands, clean before (and after) Christmas dinner, shovel their driveway, etc. Gifts of time are often the most appreciated and can be given at any time of year. Another idea is to have each family member prepare a coupon indicating a task they will do for another family member, redeemable any time that year. A fun gift that will please the recipient and doesn’t cost a thing!
We hope that these more altruistic holiday activities will inspire you! And why not spread the word at the office and get your colleagues involved in your acts of generosity?
The entire ATTITUDE team wishes you a wonderful holiday season, filled with happiness, sharing and well-being!