The Art of Giving: 7 Ways for Families to Give Back

The Art of Giving: 7 Ways for Families to Give Back

In a stuff-obsessed culture, it can be a real challenge to teach your kids what it means to give instead of just to receive, but the holidays are a great time to think and talk as a family about how to give back.

Luckily, there’s a holiday just for that! Giving Tuesday, every November 29th, is a day to “celebrate and encourage giving” for communities and families. It’s the perfect time to gather together to share such an important life lesson. Here are a few ideas for activities that can help pass the importance of giving along to your kids in meaningful ways:

1. Throw an all-inclusive holiday Giving Party.

In such a diverse country, you may find that your neighbors and friends are celebrating entirely different holidays than you are, but giving is something everyone can celebrate. Instead of throwing a Christmas party or organizing a Secret Santa, why not use this chance to host a Giving Party that everyone can enjoy together?

Involve your kids in researching causes you care about, and find out what an organization or community needs. Then, invite guests to your Giving Party, letting them know that instead of presents for your family, they can bring donations for the cause you’ve chosen as a family.

You’ll probably want snacks for your party, too! These pitas de aguacate y queso ricotta are quick and easy to make in large quantities, and are real crowd pleasers.

2. Donate old items you don’t use.

Make a game of donating your family’s old, gently used items. Who has the most stuff to give away? Who has the funniest donation? Who can gather the things they no longer need the fastest, or by making the least mess? Anyone up for a game of toy box basketball?

Most important, talk to your kids about where these toys or gifts came from, and where they are going. Help them understand that all these things are the result of someone’s hard work, and that they will be going to help those who haven’t had the same opportunities to give or receive gifts in the past. Don’t just focus on how donating items can help other kids get the gifts they want, but how it helps families be able to give gifts as well.

3. But also give something new.

Many cities have a Giving Tree or other anonymous gift-giving service, where kids and adults alike can pair up with someone in need and send a newly purchased gift their way. Even if you can only afford to give the gifts already on your list, you can take this opportunity to encourage your kids to give thoughtful gifts. Have the whole family over and have the kids sit down to interview grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins. Let them play private gift detective. Can they come up with the perfect gift for someone in their life?

4. Vow to plant a tree.

You may not cut down a fresh tree for Christmas, but you can still use the holiday as a way to encourage the whole family to give back not just to other people, but to the earth itself.

If you live in a place where the ground is already frozen by November, you can try planting a seed indoors that you can put in the ground come spring. Alternatively, you could build a composter, a bird feeder, or any number of DIY environmental projects for the family.

5. Help decorate a place that needs extra cheer.

You may have had your lights up since Halloween, but not everyone has the ability to string garlands and hang wreaths. Get the family together to for a fun afternoon of crafting. Make decorations: Cut out snowflakes or make sparkly ornaments for winter, or arrange colorful dried flowers and scented herbs to help brighten someone’s dull day. Decorate the home of a friend or family member who isn’t able to, find a local children’s hospital ward, or visit an elderly care facility in need of some extra cheer. You might also want to bring some special homemade food to share with residents or patients. Just check with a staff member first to make sure that your snacks made with care and love — like these rollitos de aguacate y pavo — are approved gifts.

6. Share your talents to get in the spirit.

While you are out and about sharing that cheer, see what other talents your family can share as well! If you or your family know any favorite cultural songs or dances, make any classic holiday foods or drinks, this is a great time to teach traditions to the rest of the family, the neighborhood, and the community. Visit the “Recetas” section of for lots of recipe ideas that channel the taste of Mexico!

7. Give the gift of leftovers.

It may not seem like much, but a plate of holiday leftovers can be a lifesaver to someone who is struggling this holiday season. Not everyone has a family to go home to over the holidays, the resources to cook a big meal, or the know-how to cook like you can! After your family feast is finished, gather the family to put together easy-to-freeze and easy-to-reheat plates that you can then deliver to neighbors and others in the community who may be likely to spend the holidays alone.

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