If you're frustrated with kids caught up with gifts and toys this season, you might consider this project Kate and I do with our kids. We remind our kids that it's a season of giving, not just getting, and that there are millions of kids without toys. Then we walk around the playroom and pick out toys they don't play with anymore to give away to kids who would enjoy them.
The first round of items the kids select are usually broken ones or parts of sets with pieces missing, but after some encouraging, they find toys they have outgrown or don't really enjoy. Donating their toys clears out space for new toys, and reminds them that they have an awesome life with gifts and loving families. We just did this again today and I love seeing the mental shift in the kids as they realize the true importance behind the gift of giving.
After we’ve gathered the toys in a box, we all load up and head down to our local Goodwill. It’s important to include the kids in this final step of the process, so they can see where the toys are going. Goodwill isn’t the only option, of course as many now online options are available for those who many not have as much time on their hands. Churches, homeless shelters, and other local community organizations are usually happy to accept toys in good condition. Just do a little research and decide on one that’s right for you.
A friend of mine has a slightly different take on this exercise. As a child, they remember their parents asking them to pick a present they had just opened to give to a family next door that needed a Christmas. You can do your own version of this and donate the gift to an organization like Toys for Tots (which only takes unopened toys).
Whatever way you choose to do it, it’s important to remind kids that Christmas isn’t just about ripping wrapping off of presents.