December is always busy with extra fun (and "fun"), and we are inundated with both shopping prompts, and our own various, runaround errands.
Our family celebrates Advent as a time of waiting and anticipation, as we near the day of Christmas. We try to do something every day — sometimes a simple candle lighting, other times more elaborate with activity or treats.
One of the traditions that we never miss is to "give" each of our kids $100 on St. Nicholas Day (December 6th). The story of St. Nicholas is about generosity, and we use this opportunity to invite our kids to participate in giving financially to others.
The day, specifically, isn't so important (I know it has already come & gone!) But, I'm sharing some details on how we've done it, to invite you or your family, or extended family, to join in this tradition.
How do we do it?
- Each kid has agency to donate their $100 in any way they want in charitable giving.
- The deadline is the end of the year.
- The amount can be split into different things, or pooled (last year, two of them bought an animal from the World Vision catalog).
- We provide some tangible catalogs & ideas, so we steer the potential recipients in that sense (e.g. our family would lean more towards addressing poverty or justice, rather than animals or colleges)...
- ... but, we don't over-manage their wishes. For example, our daughter wanted one year to use her money to buy canned food for a food bank drive at her school. I know that cash donations are more appreciated by food banks (the $ stretch further), but for her own excitement and the tangibility of the gift, we were happy to go that route.
- A tax receipt is, of course, great, but not necessary; it's about the spirit of the giving
- It's ok for a child to really not have any concept of how to choose a donor! The photos & ideas helped, but we didn't sweat it if the whole project didn't "mean" much when they were very young. My son was 8 before he seemed to have any input or interest.
- Connecting giving to personal relationships has amplified the meaning. One year, we gave to a homeless re-housing organization after a friend who worked there had joined us for dinner. Another year, we gave to IJM because a family friend was wearing a tie every day for Dressember.
You may have a completely different financial situation — maybe it's $20, or maybe it's $1000. Maybe you are a grandparent and want this to replace gifts, or maybe, like me, this could be one of many traditions of the season.
All I can offer is that it has been a fun, feel-good, perspective-enlarging experience for our family! My hope is that, among other sacrificial giving (financial & otherwise), we are helping ourselves & a new generation to grow in generosity.
I would love to hear if you do anything similar, or have other great ideas for giving this season! Share in the comments below. :)