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Posted by JoAnn Turnquist

7 Generous Family Holiday Traditions

December 17, 2014

Giving Better, Making a Difference, Talk About Giving, Activities and Ideas, Conversation Starters

Baking CookiesTraditions make this time of year extra special.  In addition to strengthening family bonds, traditions teach values and skills to your children. During the holidays, children can get wrapped up making their wish lists for Santa and dropping hints about special toys they’d like to see under the tree. This year, take time to incorporate some of these simple and fun traditions that teach giving into your holiday plans:

  1. Bake Cookies: Many of us bake cookies as part of our holiday traditions. My Oma used to arrive at our house with 10 large tins of mouthwatering varieties. Before we were allowed to nibble on our favorites, we were charged with preparing plates to share with friends and neighbors. Oma told us that “cookies that are shared taste better”. And, they did. This year, consider sharing your cookies with your friends and neighbors. Or, share them with the folks who keep us safe throughout the year - our local fireman and policeman.
  2. Make a Thankful List: The holidays are full of lists - wish lists, gift lists, menus and shopping lists. This year, add a special list that you can keep forever - a thankful list. Ask each member of your family to write down one thing they’re grateful for each day during the holidays.  Share your lists with each other throughout the season and pack them away with your decorations.  When you unpack your ornaments next year, bring out the lists.  As the years go by, you’ll be amazed how heartwarming and humorous it is to read through your collection.
  3. Make a Family Donation: Throughout the year, collect and save money as a family,  using giving jars. Then, when the holidays arrive, hold a family meeting and decide where you would like to donate the money. This tradition is a great way to begin a conversation with your children about saving and giving and, a wonderful way to celebrate philanthropy all year long.
  4. Feed the Birds: Make a small bird feeder with your kids to attract some feathered friends to your yard. Even younger-aged children can cover a pinecone with peanut butter and bird seed. Add a string and hang the feeder outside your kitchen window where you and your family can watch the birds partake in the holiday feast.
  5. Clean out the Closets:  Take time to go through closets and donate gently used clothing to a local shelter. Coats are an especially big need this time of year.
  6. Volunteer Together:  Find a cause your family cares about and give of your time by volunteering together.
  7. Adopt a Family: Expand your family this holiday season. Palmetto Project’s Families Helping Families can assist you with finding a family in the Midlands to adopt or, choose a family on Salvation Army’s Giving Tree.  Pick out gifts for the family with your children, shop for their holiday meal fixings or, make special holiday treats to share. My husband, Ernie, and I have adopted a number of families over the years. Ernie grew up in Romania in the 1950s – a time and place where toy stores were nonexistent. So, Ernie loves buying toys…bikes, skateboards, books, dolls and games for the kids in our adopted families. Sharing happiness is priceless. 

Take time this holiday season to enjoy a time honored family tradition or begin a new one that can be enjoyed for years to come.  Your traditions will certainly inspire generosity!

Happy Holidays!

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