During the holiday season, I try and teach my children about the importance of giving as well as getting. Most kids tend to be excited about Santa, presents, stockings, and the like, and like many parents I want my kids to realize there is joy in giving and helping those in need as well.

Some of the best ways I’ve found during this time of year to teach my kids this principle include:

– If your mall has an “angel tree” with tags for needy children, go together and pick out one of the tags and shop together for presents for him or her. It’s fun to watch how excited they get!

– Donate food items. Many organizations drop off grocery bags at your door or hold food drives. Have your kids help you go through the pantry or go to the grocery store for food to donate.

– Give to collections. There are so many collections around the holidays that strive to collect items for the needy, including coat drives, shoes, hats and mittens, clothing, and many more.

– Support retailers who give back. I love retailers and companies who go out of their way to help those in need. Toms shoes, for example, donates a pair of shoes to needy children for every pair of shoes you buy.

– Visit a nursing home. Not everyone gets to be with family during the holidays. Take the kids to a nursing home and sing carols, or join an “Adopt a Grandparent” program.

– Volunteer. Check your local newspaper or city website for volunteer opportunities in your area. You’d be surprised how many there are. Soup kitchens, animal shelters, and many more.

The holidays are the perfect time of year to show your kids that giving to others is often more satisfying than being on the receiving end!