fbpx Print Friendly Logo

Want to share this page with your friends?

Preparing to Give

Posted on: November 25th, 2014 by Bri DeRosa
With Thanksgiving only days away, and winter holidays following closely behind, the word “giving” is on everyone’s lips. We all want to be sure that we don’t let this season pass without helping every member of our families experience the joy of giving to others, but too often we set up opportunities to give without laying the groundwork that can really provide meaning to the activity. For example, we might have kids help to bring canned foods to the food drive at their school, but take for granted that they both understand the reason they’re supplying that food, and have a clear thought process about why it’s important to participate in acts of giving.
In anticipation of #GivingTuesday, a national day of giving that will take place this year on December 2, The Family Dinner Project has put together this list of tips to help you prepare every member of your family to give this season.

Ages 3-5

Read: “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” by Carol McCloud
Using the metaphor of filling or emptying buckets, small children can easily understand how their actions either help or hurt others.
Talk: Ask kids to help you list things that can be given to others, but can’t be bought in a store. (Hugs and kisses are a great start!)
Do: Set up a “bucket filling” station in your home. Label a small pail with each family member’s name, then use pompoms, beads or marbles to keep track of the acts of kindness they show to others.

Ages 6-9

Read: “Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed” by Emily Pearson
The story of what happened when a little girl decided to pick blueberries for her neighbor shows kids how quickly acts of kindness can multiply.
Talk: Share a personal story about an act of kindness that was meaningful to you. Ask your kids if they can share an act of kindness that someone else has done for them, or one they’ve performed themselves.
Do: Cut strips of colored paper and place them in an easy-to-reach location. Each time your family performs an act of kindness and generosity, have the kids write it down on one of the strips. Use the strips to make a “giving chain” to decorate your home and keep track of the good things you’re doing!

Ages 10-14

Read: “Stand Up! Young Activists Who Rock the World and How You Can, Too!” by John Schlimm
Tweens and teens often respond better to hearing from other kids than from the adults around them, so this compilation of essays from young activists who have achieved truly inspiring things is the perfect way to get older kids thinking about their role in shaping the world around them.
Talk: Big projects are inspiring, but they can be overwhelming. To remind kids that small acts of giving are important, too, ask them to help you brainstorm a list of “daily giving quests” each member of the family might be able to complete.
Do: Put the “giving quests” in a jar and challenge each family member to draw a quest every morning that they’ll complete during the day. If the kids need motivation, try setting a goal for the family to reach, and celebrating by doing something special together once you’ve accomplished your goal!

Ages 14-100+

Read: “I Am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai
If you need inspiration to act selflessly, this memoir by the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner in history ought to do the trick.
Talk: Malala’s story is one of overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles. What are the most challenging obstacles you’ve overcome? What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done for someone else? What kept you going, even if it seemed impossible to achieve your goal?
Do: Invite friends to join you in a “giving circle.” As a group, decide on one problem or cause you’d like to address. Then brainstorm things you can do — giving time, money, material goods, or services — to help. Each week, decide which tasks should be completed, and which members of the circle will do them. At the end of a month, get together to reflect on all the good you’ve done together.

Take part in #GivingTuesday with The Family Dinner Project! Learn more about our #familydinnerforward initiative and look for a new post about giving each Tuesday until the New Year.