Growing Generosity in Your Kids at Christmas

Dr. Tim Elmore is the founder and president of Growing Leaders. He is the author of several books, including his most recent, Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Ahhh, Christmas. It just may be the most wonderful time of the year. Every year, however, parents are reminded of how much our culture has impacted the minds of our children. For instance, we all talk about Christmas being a time of giving — but let’s face it, the first thing kids want to do in December is to make their own Christmas list of what they’ll get, not give.

Girl Giving Gift at Christmas - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #10149473

Photo courtesy of ©

So here’s an idea.

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First, why not start a tradition. Along with creating their own “wish list,” your kids make out a list of the gifts they plan to give away to others. This could include people they know and perhaps people they don’t know. The gifts can be ones they buy with their own money, or some of their own possessions they treasure.

Let’s take it a step further. What if for every gift they put on their wish list, they have to match it with a gift they plan to give away—one of their own toys, dolls, electronic devices, or games? This may just balance their “giving and receiving” experience a bit more. Then, they select a family less fortunate, and make an anonymous drop-off to that family. (Remember “ding dong ditch”?)

I know of a mom and dad who had their kids go through all their toys one December and make two piles. The first pile would include the toys they planned on giving away; the second, toys they felt were worth keeping. (This made room for the new toys they’d soon receive on Christmas.)

The clincher was, this mom and dad talked about sacrificial giving, and shared how they planned to give one of their cars to a needy family. Then, they had their children give away the pile of toys they had planned to keep.

Sacrifice is true generosity. It was hard for a few moments, but unforgettable in the end. Those kids still talk about that incredible experience four years later.

Jesus reminds us: “This poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned” (Mark 12:43-44).

Join Tim tomorrow at Pete Wilson’s blog as he discusses ways to develop patience in your kids (and maybe yourself!) during the holidays.
Question: What can you do this Christmas to teach generosity to your kids? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Jerry Fultz

    Our kids are 9 & 6. This year for Christmas I’m sponsoring a World Vision child. It’s generated a good deal of discussion with our kids about gifts, giving, receiving, etc.

  • Joshua Hood

    Great advice and reminder of the true spirit of the season!

    Joshua Hood

  • French Gifts

    This is true. In Christmas time we are celebrating, enjoying and giving gifts to all our beloved once. Especially for children, its a great time for them. This really good idea to get appreciation from our family. Thanks for sharing and lovely gift article…. Find more French gifts at

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  • Patrick

    We have The Christmas Angel!  Visit to find out how it can be a fun and creative way to teach your children about serving others.

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  • Steph

    I think that the parents who made their children give away gifts they thought were worth keeping taught their children that their parents were not trustworthy, and could care less about their kids feelings. They tricked them that’s the bottom line, and guilted them into giving away toys they felt were important to them. If you don’t believe those children were guilted into it, you’re deceiving yourself. I hate Christian guilt because it only breeds compliant children, not truly giving loving children, it’s superficial at best, and harmful at worst. Don’t raise your children to have lots of “stuff”, consumeristic, that’s what breeds giving.