Bring Home Service For Your Holidays

Bring Home Service For Your Holidays

As our family prepares for the upcoming holidays, I always challenge myself to keep ahead of the increasing commercialism of the season.

Between the Elf on the Shelf, the Christmas toy guides that seem to appear after Halloween, and even the advertising within the Macy’s Day parade, I feel that my kids are bombarded with things that encourage them to think only about, “Me, me, me!”  So this year, I have made an extra effort to incorporate some of the tenants of military service, like giving, service before self, and sacrifice, more resolutely during the holiday season to keep the true spirit of the season at the forefront of our family’s mind.

When I thought more about this, I set a goal to find several ways in which I could turn holiday conversations around our house from “What I want for Christmas” and “I hope I get….”  to “Where can I help?” and “What can I do?”  Once I put my thinking cap on I found several good ideas:

5 Ways to Pay-It-Forward
  • 01
    Heifer International

    This organization was not a new discovery for me.  My Mom and the church I grew up in as a child were big supporters of this effort on an annual basis.  Although I didn’t remember the exact details, I remember people making it a major priority every year to support Heifer projects.  As I revisited their website, I found that Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth.

    An excerpt from their site summarizes their efforts:

    • “We empower families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity – but our approach is more than just giving them a handout. Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Our animals provide partners with both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs, and honey can be traded or sold at market.  When many families gain this new sustainable income, it brings new opportunities for building schools, creating agricultural cooperatives, forming community savings and funding small businesses.”
    • Heifer provides a catalog each year of possible animals to purchase at every price level.  They have everything from bees, to bunnies, to water buffalos and it quickly became a hit with my kids—it’s already become the most popular Christmas catalog in the house.  It is a fun and easy replacement to the toy catalogs that easily find their way into your kids’ possession.  This is a perfect option to replace their infatuation for toys with a desire to find the perfect animal to donate to a community in need.
  • 02
    The Poinsettia Project

    Every year at Halloween, our family gets “Booed.”  You may be familiar with this concept–a mysterious friend puts a basket or bag of random, fun, Halloween candy and treats on a doorstep with no sign of who left it other than the “You’ve been Booed” poster that accompanies the package.  Once you have been “Booed,” you are then encouraged to pass on the fun to another family within a short period of time.

    Using this same logic, my daughter and I picked up a slew of $0.99 poinsettias at Lowe’s this year on Black Friday and came up with a plan to covertly deliver poinsettias to friends’ houses with the accompanying letter that tells the story of the Legend of the Poinsettia.  We had so much fun and it only took a couple hours from start to finish to spread the good cheer, but it made us both feel wonderful for days!  We even picked up a few extras for my husband’s secretary and other key co-workers.  We figured the Pointsettia Project can work for just about anyone!

    You can find the “Legend of the Poinsettia” here.

  • 03
    Pay it Forward

    Another easy way to show your kids the spirit of giving this holiday season is to allow them to pay it forward to people at locations you frequent.  The possibilities of how you can do this with your kids are endless.  Some convenient places include Starbucks, the grocery store, the post office, or through donations in the mail.  You can do it by either paying the bill of the person behind you, whether it is a drink, groceries, etc.  Or, in the case of sending a donation through the mail, you put your allotted amount of money in the envelope with a note that says, “The gift of giving is priceless!  Please use this money to pay it forward to a deserving person this Christmas season.  There are no rules on how you do it, just that you warm someone’s heart with your thoughtfulness.”

    This exercise is not as much about the actual donations as it is about the spirit of service felt when you go the extra mile to pay it forward to someone you may not even know.  It truly warms the hearts of everyone involved.

  • 04
    Send Holiday Cards to Troops

    As military children, my kids know that not all Moms and Dads are able to be home with their families during birthdays, holidays, and special occasions.  So one easy way to keep our deployed troops in mind during Christmas is to put your kids’ art or authoring skills to work and create cards, books or letters to send overseas.

    Operation Gratitude is an organization that sends 100,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment, hygiene and hand-made items, plus personal letters of appreciation to Veterans, New Recruits, First Responders, Wounded Warriors, Care Givers and to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed overseas.  This is a great way to lift the spirits and say “Thank You” to members of our Military.

  • 05
    Let Your Kids Decide

    After talking with my kids about all of these ideas, it was heartwarming to hear my daughter come up with her own idea.  As we were driving to get poinsettias, out of the blue, she states, “Mom, it’s really cold outside.  Maybe we should buy some blankets to keep people warm who need them.  And maybe other kids would like to buy them too!”

    What a brilliant idea?!

    And it was exactly the mindset I was hoping to achieve this season.  We discussed how we could ask her 1st-grade class to participate by bringing a blanket to class and we would take the donated blankets to a Homeless Shelter or Soup Kitchen in order to share the goodwill.

Tell us how you plan to pay it forward and #GIVE this holiday season!

Jen Griswold