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All I want for Christmas

Published in For the Health of It Author: Lorrie Spanier, BS, LADC, Manager of Adolescent Services

Do your children spend more time writing letters to Santa than writing thank-you notes for gifts they received? This is the season of giving — not getting. But how do you help your kids understand that? Here are some ideas that might help.

  1. Start a charity tradition. Volunteer to help with a meal at a shelter or church. Work at a food shelf. Take your children shopping for toys to donate to children in need. To find more volunteer opportunities in your area, visit
  2. Create a tradition. Whether it's cutting down your own Christmas tree or attending a community event, those memories that you make together will last long after the toys are forgotten.
  3. Do a good deed. Shovel the driveway for an elderly neighbor. Give a basket of food to a homeless person. Sing Christmas songs at a nursing home. Resolve to make doing good deeds a regular part of your life — not just a holiday event.
  4. Give money to a worthy cause. If you don’t have extra money, your family can be bell ringers for the Salvation Army. You will be amazed at how generous people are when you are bell ringing with cute kids.
  5. Watch an inspirational movie about the holidays. If your children are young, watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “VeggieTales Saint Nicolas: A Story of Joyful Giving” or “The Polar Express.” For older children, watch “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Carol” or “Elf.”
  6. Read holiday classics like the “The Night Before Christmas,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” or “The Berenstein Bears and the Joy of Giving.”
  7. Unplug. Turn off your phones and play board games, build a snowman, string popcorn or make cookies.

What do all of these ideas have in common? You are spending time together, showing love and making precious memories. That is what the holidays are all about.