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4 ways to focus on giving with toddlers

This post is sponsored by Zonderkidz. 

Are you all ready for Christmas at your house?

We made it up to my parent’s in New Hampshire yesterday and, while I still need to wrap presents, we’re almost set.

Growing up, my mom always placed a huge emphasis on what we wanted to GIVE at Christmas. She often tells the story of when I sat on Santa’s lap, probably around the age of 5. He asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I stared at him blankly; I didn’t know. I hadn’t been asked before.

Instead, we were always asked what we wanted to give to people. We spent a lot of time picking out or making the perfect gifts for family members and yes, there was excitement about what Santa would leave, but there was also so much excitement at how our presents to others would be received.

As a parent, I love this idea.

And I’ve been trying it this year but without a lot of success. So I’ve been working of different ways we can bring the focus back to giving this week as we head into Christmas. If you’re in the same boat, here are a few ideas:

Four ways to focus on giving with toddlers this week:

  • Read The Berenstein Bears and  the Joy of Giving: In this sweet Berenstain Bears book (originally released in 2010), Brother and Sister Bear can’t wait for Christmas and all the presents they’ll open. Through the Christmas Eve pageant and acting out the nativity, they catch the spirit of giving and learn a very valuable lesson about the joy of giving to others. There are so many things I love about this book. I love the way it teaches about the joy that comes from giving gifts rather than just receiving them. I also love how it ties that joy of giving back to the Christmas story of Jesus’s birth. And we love the familiar characters of Brother and Sister Bear (especially with a brother and sister of our own at home).This book is a great way to open the conversation about the true spirit of the holidays with your young children. Snag your copy here and still get it before Christmas!
  • Dollar store present run: I have been asking the kids what they want to give each other but I haven’t actually gone out and purchased any of their suggestions. I’m excited to take each of them, individually, to the dollar store and let them pick out anything in the store for the other (and maybe pick out a few gifts for other family members as well). I’m hoping this will really get them excited about the gifts they have to give on Christmas morning instead of just handing out the presents I’ve picked out and wrapped for their aunts and uncles.
  • Make/color gifts for others: If you’re not thrilled about a dollar store run, consider letting your kid make gifts for family members. An easy way is to have them color pictures or make cards for loved ones. These heartfelt gifts wonderfully embody the spirit of giving.
  • Clean out toys and donate them: Cleaning out toy bins before Christmas is a great way to make room for the inevitable gifts and it can also be a great way to talk about giving and having gratitude. I wish there was a way for young children to see the joy their donated toys could bring someone, but spending time talking about it as we select toys to donate can help them understand and feel the joy of giving.


Something as easy as finding the right book can help make explaining the true meaning of Christmas to your kids a little bit easier. Snuggling up by the tree with a classic like The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving is a great way to get your kids thinking about how they, too, can find joy in giving like Brother and Sister bear. How does your family get in the Christmas spirit?

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