How to Show Gratitude This Holiday Season
Take a step back and think about what your family is grateful for.
Photo By: SDI Productions
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Photo By: SDI Productions
Photo By: kate_sept2004
Photo By: Caiaimage/Sam Edwards
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Tips for Giving Back
With the hustle and bustle of the holidays in full swing, we often focus on our packed schedules, our to-do list and getting the right presents. Even though Thanksgiving is the time to give thanks, we often don’t stop to take a breath, much less reflect on what we are grateful for. So, this holiday season, try reflecting together as a family, giving back and channeling gratitude. We asked the Honeycomb Project, an organization in Chicago that makes it their mission to create engaging service projects for the whole family, for a few easy tips on how to practice more gratitude towards others. Here are things they suggest:
Giving back doesn’t have to be on a grandiose scale. It can easily be things that kids could organize themselves or with a little help from their parents. Think of small acts of kindness like homemade cards for your mail carrier, helping an elderly neighbor bring up his/her trash, leaving a surprise gift for your neighbors or baking cookies for the local fire station. These are all easy to do and go a long way for the recipients.
Rally Your Friends and Neighbors
Volunteering with friends, family and neighbors can be gratifying. There is a bonding experience that happens when we work with other people to do good. Organize a food drive (or join one) at a local shelter, host a lemonade stand with other local kids and donate the money to charity, or even spend a day cleaning up your neighborhood. You’ll come away feeling good and meet new people.
Create a Giving Habit
Once you weave giving back and feeling grateful into your daily routine it will no longer feel like something you need to “carve time for” in your schedule. Make a family calendar with activity ideas for each month. During the colder months, think of making scarves or serving food at a shelter or host a fun pajama party for friends and have them bring pajamas to donate to kids in need. Partner with your school to collect leftover Halloween candy and, in the summer, help plant trees or a community garden.
Talk the Talk (and Listen!)
It’s important for kids to understand what they are doing and why, but volunteering can sometimes come with tough subjects like foster care, homelessness or really sick kids. Have a conversation before you volunteer so you understand what your kids are thinking. The Honeycomb project suggests asking your kids open-ended, age-appropriate questions and listening thoughtfully. These conversations will be beneficial in many ways; they’ll help your kids to better understand what they are doing, strengthen the trust they have for you, solidify giving back as part of your family values and help children build empathy for others.
Connect the Big Picture
Sometimes kids don’t get it until we connect the dots for them, and sometimes they can astutely observe things on their own. Let volunteering be a mix of that. They may understand that they’re cleaning up the beach, but do they know the importance of clean water and less pollution? They may serve food to those that are hungry but help them understand that hunger is more than just a rumble in your tummy. Projects with visual and tangible results (i.e. buying specific Christmas presents for a family in need) can help them really grasp what they are doing. Honeycomb Project has great resource guides on bigger topics like hunger and poverty, environmental protection, clean water and homelessness to get you started.