Days 1 and 2: Ding Dong Ditch and a Plate of Cookies

Today we are starting a special series for the 25 days leading up to Christmas. Each day we'll focus on a different way you can teach your kids to give to others. Put the focus on giving instead of getting at Christmas this year because Jesus was a gift to us. Join in the fun by reading each day, then posting in the comments ways that you help your kids give to others at Christmas. Don't forget to share this series with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

It's that time of year again when the stockings are hung, the tree is up and the Christmas lights are burning brightly against the night sky. It's also the time of year when our kids get a bad case of the "give mes." The mile-long Christmas lists are created and everyone anticipates what will be under the tree on Christmas morning. The focus gets put on "what am I going to get" instead of "what am I going to give."

Yet, Christmas is truly all about a gift that was given to us: Jesus. We could ask for no greater gift. So, in honor of the spirit of giving, we're spending the 25 days leading up to Christmas in our house focusing on giving. We have an advent calendar that has little boxes to open. Inside each box this year is a notecard with instructions to give something away for each day. As we go on this giving adventure, I'll be sharing each day's gift with you to inspire you to encourage your kids to focus on giving this season as well. By the time we're through, I'm hoping my kids will have learned the truth of Acts 20:35: "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ "

Over the weekend, we opened our first two boxes. On Saturday, we expanded what has become a beloved tradition in our house. For the past two years, we've ding-dong ditched our neighbors for the 12 days before Christmas, leaving a small gift on their porch every night. This year, we expanded it to the 24 days before Christmas and added another neighbor. This year, we're giving them ornaments with the names of God written on them along with the verse that has that name in it. They were simple to make (cheap colored Christmas ball ornaments and a Sharpie) but carry a wealth of meaning.

Each night, we place the bag on the doorstep, ring the bell and run. It's fun for the girls, and our neighbors love it. They long ago figured out it was us, but we all play along like we have no idea who leaves the stuff on their doorstep. It's a fun way to get my girls focused on giving to others.

Our second box held a note that directed the girls to take a plate of cookies to one of their leaders at church. My younger daughter chose to give hers to her volunteer table leader, and my older daughter gave hers to our youth pastor. They helped bake the cookies and chose which ones would go on the plate. It cost very little, yet gave my daughters a chance to get into the spirit of giving as well as tell some of the people in their lives "thank you."

Teaching your kids to give to others doesn't have to be hard or expensive. It can be simple and fun. Start your own tradition of giving in the days leading up to Christmas. You'll be surprised at just how much fun you have. And don't forget to join us here each day to share in our 25 Days of Giving Adventure.

Linking up today with The Better Mom and Graceful.

For more great ideas to keep your kids' attention focused on Christ in the Christmas season, check out my Everyday Christmas e-book. You'll find lots of simple to implement ideas to create a Christ-centered Christmas.