How to help children focus on serving others this Christmas

How to help children focus on serving others this Christmas

By Carolyn Tomlin
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist

Shoppers hurry to complete their Christmas list. Children wait patiently for Dec. 25 to arrive. Holiday foods encourage even the most health-conscious to over-indulge during the season. With the increasing demand of commercialism, it is sometimes hard to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

What if children were taught that it’s not the gift that’s important but the thought behind the gift that is cherished?

How can we teach children to serve other people? How can we make youngsters aware of community needs where they can make a difference?

Showing Christ’s love

Start by making a list of family and friends with whom you would usually exchange gifts. Plan a “Christmas Wish List” night where parents and children come up with creative ways to show the love of the Christ Child to those on their list.

Don’t forget to involve the kids in a simple snack to nibble on as you work.

Perhaps some of these ideas could work for your family.

Gift Cards. With the parents’ help, nonreaders can draw a Christmas greeting on card stock for a friend or family member with an offer of help, such as playing with a younger sibling, helping wash the car or setting the table. Insert cards in envelopes and deliver to the recipient.

Donate a library book. Help your child select a book for the church library that other children would enjoy reading.

This could be given in honor of their Sunday School teacher or another church staff member who has shown a special interest in your child. Write your child’s name, the person honored and the date in the front.

Clean a senior adult’s yard. Is there a senior adult in your church that would appreciate some help with the yard?

Parents and children working together can give a few hours to raking, pruning bushes and planting bulbs for spring.

Plan to take a plate of homemade cookies or freshly baked bread.

Contribute to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Tell stories of missionaries and locate the area they serve on a world map. Make children aware of missions in the United States and other countries.

Provide extra chores where they can earn money for missions.

Helping the homeless

Support a homeless shelter. When you travel, save the complimentary bottles of shampoo, soap and lotion. Collect these throughout the year and deliver to a shelter for those without a home. Gently used clothing for men, women and children are other good options for donations. And having children select some of their toys that are in good condition to donate not only fills a need but also helps clear space for new toys coming to them at Christmas.

Fill a baby bottle. Place extra change in a baby bottle and donate to a pregnancy center. These centers encourage women to consider life-affirming alternatives to abortion. The money collected helps these mothers buy diapers and formulas for their little ones.

Instead of parents giving children money to “buy” a gift, help them realize that giving of time is more important.

Think of ways to serve others and show the love of God to family and friends.


Fleece throw

Nothing says “love” like a warm blanket or throw. If your child can tie a knot, they can help make this gift.


  • 2 1/2 yards of cotton fleece
  • 45-inches wide or more
  • 5-inch cardboard cutting guide
  • Scissors
  • Large safety pins (for holding two sections together)


Cut the fleece into two 45-inch squares. Place one piece on top of the other. Allowing 5-inches from the edge, pin the two pieces together. Place the cutting guide on one corner and cut 5-inch strips all around the four edges. While still pinned together, tie the upper and lower strips into a double knot. When all strips are tied, remove the pins.

This washable throw makes a personal gift from your child to a loved one for Christmas. And they can say with pride, “I made it myself.”


Christmas snack mix recipe

If you’re concerned about offering healthy snacks for your family, this cereal and nut snack mix is for you. Teach measuring, counting and stirring as you have fun in the kitchen.


7 cups rice, corn and wheat squares
1 cup small pretzels
1 cup oyster crackers
1 cup peanuts
1/4 cup margarine
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder


Using a large bowl, melt margarine in microwave. Stir in seasoning. Add cereal and other ingredients. Bake in large baking pan at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Stir a couple of times.

Spread on paper towels to cool. Eat and enjoy.