Tips to Teach Children & Teens the True Spirit of Christmas

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Rediscover the True Meaning of Christmas this year. Ideas to help your children and teens focus on serving and giving during the holiday season.

There is no a better time of the year than the winter holiday season to involve children and teenagers in charitable giving and teach them why the old adage, “It is better to give than to receive,” is true.

Here are 5 great ways to teach children the true spirit of the holidays:

–    Consider do-it-yourself gifts, like no-sew fleece blankets that you can make with your children. Donate those blankets to a local homeless shelter.

–    Cherish the stories of your family. Have your children talk to their grandparents and write down the stories of their past. Create a book to share with the entire family or record it online. OR Check out some of the amazing new apps that allow you to record your family’s stories right from you iPhone! Check out, Saving Memories app for the iPhone, or Family Search Memories for the iPhone.

–    As a family, select a charitable organization you’d like to support. Use online tools like Charity Navigator to find an organization that you trust. Give your children a budget and encourage them to decide how your family will donate to that organization this holiday.

–    Work with your children to create a coupon book for your neighbors that might need an extra hand this year.  Coupons could include shoveling their sidewalk, watching their children or providing a meal.

–    Bake cookies or sweets with your children and deliver them to your local nursing home or school-in-need.

In addition to teaching children how to give during the holidays, it is equally as important to show teenagers the true spirit of the holidays. World Vision Teen Engagement Expert, Michele Tvedt has several tips for parents.

Teaching Teens the True Spirit of Christmas:

–    Start with conversation. Watch the nightly news together, and take time to discuss stories that touch on people struggling with poverty, unemployment or other tragedies. Let your teen lead the discussion and listen for them to express interest or passion in a particular social issue.

–    Begin to give teens a voice in family giving. Let your teen know you would like to give a charitable gift as a family to mark the holiday season, but that you’d love to let them be the final decision maker.

–    Take advantage of volunteering requirements that your teen may have to fulfill at school. Offer to help your teen find an organization that fits their interest. Keep in mind that teenagers are eager for authentic, powerful experiences. They will respond best to opportunities that allow them to experience poverty firsthand.

“The holiday season can be a stressful time of year. There are gifts to purchase and wrap, cookies to bake, and family and friends to visit, but when we pause to help our neighbors in need, we all experience the holidays in a more meaningful way,” said Traci Coker, charitable giving expert and national director of World Vision’s Gift Catalog.

Thanks so much to Traci Coker of World Vision for this wonderful article.  You can browse World Vision’s Gift Catalog and its selection of gifts that help those in need at


About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

Amy is mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. Her family is a former military family now settled in Lehi, Utah. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for Amy to share parenting and product advice with others. Just as she has evolved, Oh So Savvy Mom has evolved into a resource for Healthy Living for Families, Food, Parenting, and Family Travel.


  1. We found a wonderful book at the library called "Christmas Cookies The True Meaning of Christmas." We have decided to take its example and give nativity cookies with the Angles' declaration of our Savior's birth. It is great for all ages and will become a family tradition in our house. Stories are some of the best ways to share the meaning of Christmas (and I don't mean Santa). I am so pleased to have found this story.
  2. What great ideas. I love the grandparents and grandchildren book idea. I'll have to do something like that with my grandkids. And thanks for the info about the World Vision teen engagement expert. That's one of my favorite ministries and it's great to hear they are focusing on teens like that. Have a blessed week.
    • Hi Kaye, I just now saw your comment. I was so happy to post this. It is easy for our families to get caught up in the commercial hustle and bustle of Christmas and lose sight of the true meaning. Some of my favorite Christmas memories as a teenager were of when I was doing charitable things for those in need. It is such a wonderful thing for a teenager to know they can make a difference in the life of someone else