Looking for new holiday traditions that have nothing to do with materialism? Forget the cheesy Christmas movies and driving around for miles to see all of the decorated houses in the neighborhood. There are many budget-friendly activities available in every community. Adding a socially responsible element to your celebration will not only strengthen familial bonds, but teach children important life lessons, too. Try these tips for a more socially responsible holiday season.
Make a donation
At first, children may not love the idea of forgoing another toy and instead donating the money to help someone in need. However, it’s a very important lesson. Each year, there is so much suffering around the world and getting the kids on board will make them feel more empowered to do something.
For example, stress the point to your child that he could be helping another little boy in Japan who lost everything in the earthquake. You can also have your children round up old, slightly-loved toys for a local toy drive. Children love to help.
Give your time
Every community has numerous volunteer opportunities during the holidays. Some popular activities include soup kitchens, gift-wrapping for donation and coat or food drives. The holiday season is when charities amp up their giving spirit and, often, need an extra set of hands. Many kitchens or other charities will let volunteers sign up just for a few hours.
Volunteering teaches your child the importance of community and helping others who are less fortunate. And it makes you feel good. Heed the advice from the former President Bill Clinton, who wrote an entire book about it, called Giving.
Attend a holiday concert
No matter your taste in music, holiday concerts abound and many are free or charge a minimal admission. Local churches are a great place to look, often bringing in local choirs, pop bands and even the more elaborate performances of Handel’s Messiah.
Despite your religious affiliation, or lack thereof, churches across the country draw huge crowds to these inspiring performances during the holidays. People from all walks of life come out to appreciate the music, architecture and feeling of community.
Lessen your holiday footprint
Household waste generated during the holidays skyrockets during the holiday season. Estimates range from a 25 percent increase to 80 percent. Teach your youngsters how to lessen the carbon footprint during Christmas. For example, using a reusable gift bag is a good start because most Christmas wrapping paper cannot be recycled. Or, put your decorative lights on a timer. Your children will then be able to incorporate the lesson into other aspects of their lives.
Take your children to a holiday event they’ve never experienced
Expose your children to new ideas and beliefs by taking advantage of the many cultures that celebrate their own holidays at the same time. It could be African-American culture through a Kwanzaa celebration or attending a neighbor’s Hanukkah dinner. Children love learning through activities.