Days 6-9: Strangers, Neighbors, Family and Friends

Welcome to the 25 Days of Giving. Each day we’ll focus on a different way you can teach your kids to give to others. If you missed the start of this series, you can find it here. 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.

Learning to give to others takes many forms. In the past four days, my girls have given things to a stranger, a neighbor, each others and a friend. Interestingly enough, the hardest thing to give came on Saturday when they had to do something special for each other. It seems that we often have the toughest time being kind and considerate to those closest to us and those that know us the best.

We've got four days of giving to catch you up on, so here we go:

Day 6: This was one of my favorite activities. We went to Wal-Mart, bought a $5 gift card and handed it to a child in the toy department. On the way there, my girls decided they had two criteria for giving a child the card: the child had to not be getting anything and the child had to be behaving. No screaming kids were getting a gift card.

My girls scoped out the aisles, found a little boy who was with his dad, then did an excellent job of explaining what they were doing and why they wanted this little boy to have the gift card. The little boy was thrilled, and my girls got first-hand experience at seeing the joy that giving can bring. They lived out the directive of Hebrews 13:2, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."

Giving away that gift card to a stranger allowed the girls to see the importance of being kind, even to those people that we don't know. We never know when the people we pass on the street are hurting and a simple act of kindness will go a long way toward lifting their spirits.

Day 7: Friday's notecard directed the girls to decorate a tree in a neighbor's yard with ornaments and candy canes. Due to a change in our schedule, we actually didn't get this one done on until Saturday night, but they had fun, nonetheless. A plain tree in the neighbor's yard was trandsformed with blue snowflakes and icicles.

This activity gave the girls a chance to share beauty with someone else. It reinforced the importance of loving our neighbors and, hopefully, brightened someone else's day. Under cover of darkness they decorated, so the next morning, the neighbors would find a surprise. It literally let them "love their neighbors" one Christmas ornament at a time.

Day 8: Saturday was the toughest direction to follow for my girls. It told them to do something special for each other. My older daughter gifted my younger one with an hour of her time. For an hour, they played Matchbox cars and MarioKart, which was a pretty big sacrifice on my older daughter's part as she's never been a big fan of playing with cars or of video games. They had a great time, played well together and enjoyed one another's company. Not once did I hear them argue or use hurtful words. It was a blessed hour of peace in a crazy weekend.

However, my younger daughter had a more difficult time doing something special for her sister. It wasn't until we were in the grocery store, and they were deciding what type of gum to buy that she found something to give her sister. The girls were allowed to choose one pack of gum for the two of them to share. After much "discussion" my younger daughter decided her special thing would be to let my older daughter choose the flavor. Now, that might not sound like such a big thing, but my younger daughter doesn't normally back down and let other have their way. She's strong-willed and stubborn and often has trouble remembering the words of Philippians 2:3 to "value others above yourself."

Day 9: Yesterday, my older daughter woke up sick, so she stayed home with my husband while my younger daughter and I went to church. While we were there, we purchased a cookie at the coffee shop. My younger daughter took it with her to the children's program and gave it to a friend. Surprising our friends with an unexpected gift tells them we value them. It let's them know they are special to us. Whether it's a cookie or a hug, our friends need to know that we care about them. Giving a gift for no reason helps them to know that.

So, the past four days have been filled with giving. The girls are excited to open the boxes that contain our notecards each morning to see what fun gift they're going to get to give next. We've successfully taken the focus off of getting this season and put it onto giving. It's not too late to start your own season of giving. Instead of the 15 Days of Giving, use some of these ideas and do 12 Days of Giving in your house. We can't wait to give away more things this week.

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.

Linking up today with The Better Mom and Graceful.