Acts of service and kindness epitomizes what the Christmas season is truly about, and the feeling you get when serving is a blessing to both the giver and receiver. Our family loves and enjoys all the parts of Christmas—so many fun things to do and see—but focusing on what really matters is the best gift I can give my children and family. When you give of yourself, you’re never really the same—it changes how you approach Christmas, and it gives you memories you will cherish for years to come.
A few years ago my baby was very ill, and she was hospitalized six times within a ten-month period. She spent two weeks in the PICU of our nearest children’s hospital during one admission—intubated and fighting to get better, which she thankfully did. How grateful I was for the amazing nurses, doctors, and volunteers who made our very difficult time in the hospital as comfortable as possible. While I was there, I noticed that they were short of books and toys, and with Christmas just about six weeks away, and our family knew exactly what we wanted to do.
We collected toys and books from friends and people in our community, bought a few new ones, and then took them as a family to donate them to the PICU. It was such an emotional night, but our hearts were full of gladness and thankfulness. It’s still one of our most treasured memories, and even though my children were almost all small, they remember too, and the feelings they had.
I decided then and there that we would work extra hard to incorporate giving and service during the holiday season, and really make it a focus of our Christmas. I created a Christmas Kindness Countdown Chain to help us do that, and we absolutely love it!
Christmas Kindness Countdown Chain
A Christmas Kindness Chain is a simple and meaningful tradition—a way to visually see all the acts of service of kindness that our family has given over the Christmas season, and our own gift to Jesus Christ, who is the reason for our celebration.
Instead of creating a chain and taking one off each day, I like to add the chains as we go along, so by the time Christmas arrives, we have a full chain representing all of our acts of kindness. It’s the perfect visual reminder for the whole month, and then on Christmas Day we can read through them and remember.
How it works…
I love doing a construction paper chain because it is so simple, and it’s easy for my kids to be a part of. I cut red and green construction paper into 1.5-inch strips (11 inches long), and then write on the strips some of the service ideas we want to do over the next month. They include bigger projects, like participating in a clothing drive, but also things that the kids can do on their own—like smiling at everyone all day, letting someone in front of them in line, opening doors, etc. I also leave some of the strips blank, because I want the kids (and all of us) to look for ways to serve, and then be able to write them down and add them to the chain.
Serving together brings families closer together, and it will be a Christmas you won’t soon forget!
SERVICE IDEAS FOR FAMILIES
-Take treats to the police station and/or fire station
-Shovel someone’s driveway
-Put Christmas lights up for someone who isn’t able to
-Put together a care package for a missionary and/or someone in the military
-Send phone cards to someone in the military so they can call home
-Go through your pantry and cupboards and take canned goods to a food bank
-Stock up on warm hats and gloves and donate them to a homeless shelter
-Donate to a giving tree
-Gather toys and books and donate to a children’s hospital
-Serve a meal at a local soup kitchen
-Make blessing kits and hand them out to the homeless
-Visit a nursing home and talk to the residents and sing Christmas carols
-Pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru
-Leave microwave popcorn at a Redbox
-Donate pet food to the local pet shelter
-Leave a homemade bookmark in your library book
-Gather blankets and donate to a homeless shelter
-Collect toys and donate to a women & children’s shelter
-Volunteer at a food bank
-Leave candy canes on windshields in the parking lot
-Deliver a Christmas tree & ornaments to a family in need
-Be Secret Santa to a family in need
-Leave dollar bills in the Dollar Spot at Target with a little note
-Call up a single mom you know and offer to babysit her kids so she can go shopping
-Find an area in your town that is littered and clean it up
-Ask your child’s teacher if there are any students in the class that could use books at home, then send some in for the teacher to put in their backpack
-Donate a bunch of school supplies to your child’s classroom
-Take baby supplies (diapers, wipes, formula) to a women & children’s shelter
-Put together necessity kits for parents who have children in the hospital ICU
-Take some of your kids’ outgrown clothes to the school nurse or resource center
-Bring hot chocolate to the Salvation Army collectors
-Take dinner to another family
-Leave an extra big tip for your waiter
-Right after it snows, go through a parking lot and clean off windshields
-Go Christmas caroling in your neighborhood—bring friends along!
-Leave change in a vending machine
-Put quarters in parking meters
SERVICE IDEAS FOR KIDS:
-Do a chore for a sibling
-Smile all day to everyone you see
-Give sincere compliments to those you talk to
-Let someone go before you in line
-Clean your room without being asked
-Make cards for your bus driver and teachers
-Look for someone at school that needs a friend, and go talk to them
-Hold open doors for everyone
-Cover pinecones in birdseed and peanut butter and put them in your backyard
-Go through your toys and choose a few to donate
-Help mom or dad with dinner
-Read to a younger sibling
-Donate your week’s allowance or ask your mom and dad how you can earn money, so you can help someone in need
The merriest of Christmases, from our family to yours!!