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31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Teaching Children the Spirit of Giving (Day 28)

Welcome to December’s series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please email me your story and a picture to go along with it, if possible [1]. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

Guest post by Elise from ElisePhotini.com [2]

Even in the most media-careful home, it’s likely that our kids are exposed to the materialistic messages floating around this time of year. In my home our kids don’t watch TV, yet they still know what a Pillow-Pet is!

Not only are we challenged to provide a happy, true Spirit-focused Christmas season for them, we are also challenged with helping them learn how to give to others without falling into the “just buy a great gift” trap.

I believe that there are a few simple steps we can take to transform our children’s outlook on giving at Christmas… and all year long!


1.  Help them write their own Giving List.

Our kids can make their own list of family and friends who they’d like to give to. Maybe it’s just Grandparents, parents and siblings. Or, they may want to include a few friends. Helping them see the total number of gifts they’d like to give will instill a ‘big picture’ view for them.

2.  Encourage them to make gifts and recycle their treasures.

Re-gifting has gotten a bad name, yet the growing concept of green-gifting is starting to put a different spin on this old no-no. Instead of picking something we don’t like from our own stash, focus on finding ‘hidden’ treasures that our friends/family have spoken about enviously.

3. Help them make out a simple gift-giving budget.

Even a 5-year-old can handle a 3-person, $5 each budget. An older child can understand a more complicated prioritized budget, spending more for Mom and Dad, and spending less on friends. Using the envelope system [4] with a name for each person and the money budgeted inside can be a great teaching tool!

4. Emphasize empathy!

Talk about what each person on your child’s list likes, or doesn’t like. Start by asking your kids to remember their favorite gifts and what they are hoping to receive this year.

“How did you feel when Mommy remembered your favorite color on your birthday?” for instance. Then move into how Grandma will love the photo with a handmade frame from them. Not only will this help our children come up with gift-giving ideas, but it will expand their empathy and deepen their character.

5. Pay attention to how YOU are talking this time of year.

It’s so easy to talk about “running out of money”, or to complain about “not getting what we want this year”. Are we paying attention to our own attitudes and how this is teaching our kids to think/feel about Christmas gift giving?

Instead of saying, “we don’t have money for that” how about practicing a different message such as, “we’re choosing to have a simpler Christmas this year.”

Children won’t get a poverty mindset unless we teach it to them. Neither will they develop a healthy perspective unless we consistently model one!

How do you help your children learn to be givers?

Elise has served clients and audiences across the United States as the NewLife Recovery Coach, offering common-sense inspiration and transforming truths she’s gathered from over 10+ years of personal recovery. Since the Summer of 2010 Elise has personally coach [5]ed [5]dozens of clients through organizing, recovery, and personal challenges.