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It is More Blessed to Give…

November 29th, 2007

Ask any child to tell you the best thing about Christmas, and what do you think he will say?


While we want to teach our children that Christmas is not all about getting presents, perhaps we’ve inadvertently conditioned our children to think that it is about the presents! That pile of wrapped boxes under the Christmas tree builds the anticipation of opening presents on Christmas day. The Christmas stockings hang empty for weeks on the mantle in hopes of being filled with presents by Santa. Aunts and uncles ask for wish lists; gift ideas are plastered on every form of media. Despite what we say, presents are viewed as the highlight of Christmas.

Getting presents is certainly a fun part of Christmas, but most parents do not want to feed the greed in our children. Parents ask, “How can I get my children to be more grateful for what they have?” “How do I teach my children to think about giving instead of always think about getting?”

When my children were in elementary school, their school provided an opportunity that taught a valuable lesson. The school held an annual “Holiday Boutique”. Items costing fifty cents to two dollars were sold at this “Boutique” that was held two weeks before the Christmas holiday. Students were assigned a time to shop at the Holiday Boutique to buy presents for their family and friends. The school does not make money at this store. It only serves as an opportunity for children to buy affordable gifts with their own money. Each year I volunteered at the Holiday Boutique to help children wrap their gifts and write their gift cards. The excitement on the children’s faces was priceless. This was their chance to be able to surprise their moms and dads with a Christmas gift.

My children would save up their money throughout the year in anticipation of shopping at the Holiday Boutique. They looked forward to us opening their presents more than opening their own presents! Generally we think that children would of course love to receive presents. But I realize that they love to give even more. Why? I often wondered what it is that made our kids so willing to spend their hard earned money on gifts for other people.

There is a sense of pride that comes to our children when they are able to give gifts out of their own resources. They also love the chance to pick out something that will make someone else happy. It makes them beam with pride when they see our delight in their choice of gifts for us. They feel a sense of accomplishment and contribution to the family when they are able to give. There are indeed great blessings to ourselves when we give sacrificially.

It’s a wonderful idea to give your children a chance to experience those blessings of giving. They also learn to sacrifice their own wants, budget, and make decisions.

Children as young as 5 years old can begin to give gifts to their family. Help your children make a list of people they want to give gifts to. Gather up their money and budget how much they can afford to spend on each person. You will have to help the younger ones, but by about second or third grade, they have birthday money, recycling money, etc. to spend, and they can begin to budget.

Then take them to the Dollar Store or 99 Cents Store, and let them shop! I try to look the other way when they are picking out something for me! I leave the purchase decisions totally up to them. Since they’ve worked out the budget, I do not help them with any extra money at the store. They usually come up short because they didn’t figure the sales tax, and that I will chip in.

The children can have another opportunity to learn giving by helping you pick out gifts for family and friends. My children will inevitably pick out something they want for themselves and do not want to let it go when it comes to wrapping and giving out those presents. This again is an opportunity for them to give. My children see that the world is not about accumulating more for themselves, but we must be generous to give as well.

When we get home, we have fun wrapping the presents, writing out the cards, and even making some homemade cards as well.

Sure, it takes more time to do all this with your children. You could probably have your shopping and wrapping done in half the time it takes to involve your children. But there is a lot to be learned for your children to shop and give to others. You can provide them the opportunity to experience first hand that “It is more blessed to give than receive.”

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