It’s easy to find yourself going through the motions with your family over the Christmas season. Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year, but the seasonal festivities can get repetitive.
- Decide if we’re going to put decorations up before or after Thanksgiving.
- Go around to family Christmas parties and eat way more than you should.
- Have our little Christmas at home.
- Pack away the decorations and struggle to get them back up into the attic.
Partaking in charitable family Christmas traditions gives us something to shift our focus from the usual and more towards the reason for the season. It’s an opportunity to bond while working towards a greater good. After all, Christmas is so much more than stuffing away grandma’s sugar cookies.
What are charitable family Christmas traditions?
Charitable family Christmas traditions are activities done together as a whole family to spread love and kindness throughout our communities—both big and small. These types of family traditions pass on our values to others through the gift of giving, and they aren’t meant for any sort of recognition.
Charitable family Christmas traditions teach younger children in the family the importance of charity and help prevent a case of the “gimmies.” They also remind our older children—and even us grumpy old moms and dads—that giving is much more rewarding than receiving. Charitable family Christmas traditions put into perspective what is truly important in life, and that’s our humanity towards our neighbors.
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind.—Hebrews 13:16
Why start charitable family Christmas traditions?
Just think about it for a minute…
We were given His only Son and a mother who gave everything for us. The pattern here is giving—they gave it all and received it all in return. This truth is so profound and life-changing that we celebrate and sing about it all year round.
Giving our talents or donating goods are charitable family Christmas traditions that can also be life-changing. When we can help our children and others see that life is not centered around them but rather centered around how we can serve our neighbors, we grow their faith and lead them down the narrow pathway towards a state of grace.
The more charitable we are, the more softened our heart becomes. The darkness of sin lifts from our eyes, which equips us better to live a life as we have been asked.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.—John 15:12
What are some charitable family Christmas traditions to start now?
1. Send homemade Christmas cards in the mail.
It’s always a joy to receive a handmade Christmas card in the mail. To turn this into a charitable Christmas family tradition, ask each family member to make 3-7 Christmas cards. Gather everyone’s homemade cards, and send them to nursing homes. To dial this up a notch, contact the nursing homes, explain what you would like to do, and ask for the first names of residents who no longer receive visitors. You can then personalize the Christmas card just for them.
You can also send homemade Christmas cards to service members deployed overseas. I was once one of these service members, and I can tell you this simple gesture is a big one.
2. Participate in the Angel Tree Program put on by The Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army Angel Tree program helps give Christmas gifts to thousands and thousands of children around the United States each year. Families in need apply to be accepted as an Angel, and their Christmas wish list is then shared. You can contact The Salvation Army nearest to you by clicking here and searching by your zip code. You can also call 1-800-SAL-ARMY for further information.
Gifts for Angel families can typically be delivered to The Salvation Army nearest you and are delivered to the Angel family to be placed under their Christmas tree. To make this a charitable family Christmas tradition, ask that each family member purchase an item on the wish list for donation, and let younger children help the adults pick out gifts!
If you are a family in need, you can also follow the same steps above to determine how to apply for the Angel Tree program in your area.
3. Build a shoebox through Operation Christmas Child.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse and is aimed at giving boys and girls in need a tangible expression of God’s love through a gift-filled shoebox. You can personalize your shoebox with a letter and photo of your own family, and it couldn’t be any easier.
You can even click here to build a shoebox online. For only $25, you can send a personalized box of love and kindness to a child who will never forget it. These shoebox gifts are often delivered to hard-to-reach areas of the world. A link will automatically be sent to the email address associated with your donation via the Follow Your Box lookup tool.
To turn this into a charitable family Christmas tradition, ask each family member to build a shoebox, or invite your younger children to the screen and build one together online. Explain to your kids the concept of giving through the shoebox. You can even let them type out a personal note to be delivered along with the shoebox gift.
4. Make and donate Christmas ornaments.
As our family ages, we have found that we hang less and less store-bought Christmas ornaments on our tree and more and more homemade ornaments crafted by our children. One of the many goals of charitable family Christmas traditions is to spread love and put a smile on someone’s face. Donating handmade Christmas ornaments to nursing homes and assisted living facilities to hang on their trees is not only an act of charity but can put a smile on the face of so many people who may feel more alone than in years past.
5. Attend Christmas Eve mass.
If you don’t attend mass regularly, then now would be a great time to start! I believe attending Christmas Eve mass each year is a tremendous charitable Christmas family tradition because doing so can be viewed as an act of charity in the self-improvement department. The closer your relationship is with our Lord, the more joyful your soul will be, and the kinder you will be to others.
6. Create a Random Acts of Kindness bucket list.
Charitable family Christmas traditions are meant to spread kindness in our world and our communities, and what better way to do that than by creating a random acts of kindness bucket list.
We made a list showcasing 105 of the best random acts of kindness to help you out with ideas! If your family is a bit more competitive and a challenge is more up your alley, then you can sign up to receive our free 31-Day Kindness Challenge on our little yellow form here.
The idea behind our 31-Day Kindness Challenge is to sit down together as a family and pencil in at least one random act of kindness in each day for all family members to complete. If your family is a bit scattered, then each family member can subscribe on our form here to receive their own 31-Day Kindness Challenge template.
You can dial up the positivity here and commit yourself to complete this challenge each month for a full year. Think about how awesome it would be to have 12 months of random acts of kindness that you can look back on, and now in your heart, you made a difference simply by being kind. Once you make it to this point, being kind to your neighbor is no longer a challenge—it’s a lifestyle.
7. Volunteer as a family.
Not all donations have to involve money. Nothing is more valuable than our time, so giving out time to someone else is one of the most charitable family Christmas traditions a family can do together.
Donate your time together each year as a family by volunteering to help decorate your church, work at a food kitchen, bake together then donate the home-baked goods to an area shelter—the possibilities are endless! Contact your local church or community center to find out if they know of any volunteer opportunities for you and your family.
8. Shovel driveways in your community.
Do you want to teach your children the gift of giving through hard work? Wake them up early to shovel the driveways of the elderly in your community. All of that fluffy snow sure does look weightless until you have to shovel it!
Imagine, if you will, you’re 70 years young and answer the door to find a few servants looking to fulfill one of their charitable family Christmas traditions by simply shoveling your driveway for you. After each driveway, you can surprise your neighbor with a snowman in their front yard made from the shoveled snow!
9. Go “elving” in your community.
Talk about charitable Christmas family traditions—this is one of the best! All you need to do to understand the concept of “elving” is watch the Christmas movie titled The Christmas Project directed by Michael Buster. Of all the charitable family Christmas traditions you could start, “elving” could be one of the best to do year after year.
10. Invite someone over for Christmas dinner.
If you know someone who you believe will be spending the holidays alone, then invite them over for Christmas dinner. If you live next to a military base, you can locate a phone number for community relations and ask about inviting young service members over for a holiday meal. It’s a no-brainer that service members who are deployed will not make it home for the holidays.
What’s not so obvious is that many young service members stateside are not permitted to travel home to be with their families for many reasons.
When I was stationed in Mississippi, the base promoted a program every Christmas. Students unable to travel home for Christmas could be sponsored by vetted families in the community and welcomed into their home for a delicious home-cooked Christmas meal. It made missing family a little less difficult, and it certainly beat the galley!
As someone who was once a young service member unable to go home, this was one of many charitable family Christmas traditions that I much appreciated.
11. Go Christmas caroling.
How cool would it be to be known as the family that goes around Christmas caroling in the community every year singing nothing but the classics! Maybe I’m just weird, but I think that would be awesome. I can’t sing to save my life. Still, I totally have my dad sights set on adding this to our list of charitable family Christmas traditions after our younger children get a little older and can manage the frigid weather a bit better.