Gratitude is an important aspect of mental health. Although the holiday season can bring challenges and business, I appreciate this time of year because it’s opportunity to focus on the good in the world and take practical steps to help others. As a parent, I want to be intentional about installing gratitude and helping others as integral parts of our family holiday traditions. Let’s explore a few practical ways to do this with our children.


Advent Calendar – Giving children a small treat each day can be a special and memorable way to celebrate each day of December. A practical way to incorporate gratitude is to talk about one thing each member of the family is grateful for before opening their treat for the day.

Gratitude Christmas Cards – Involve your children in writing digital or paper Christmas cards. Ask your children to write or dictate thankful message to members of the family such as “Thanks Grandma for baking such great cookies” or “Thanks Uncle for helping me learn to draw”.

 Gratitude Baking – Plan a family day to bake cookies for your neighbors. Have your children draw or write encouraging words to send with each package of cookies.

***Given the current concerns with the pandemic, please remember to follow health guidelines to stay safe this holiday season.

Helping Others

There are many activities your family can participate in to help others during the holiday season. Consider contacting local charity groups for volunteer opportunities to help others in the community. During the pandemic there are some limitations in community activities so it may be helpful to consider some practical ways to help others close to home.

Family Helping Challenge – Start at home by planning a family meeting and deciding how each family member can help each other this holiday season. In the same manner, as picking names to purchase gifts, plan a family raffle where each family member picks the name of someone to help during each week of December. Provide your children with some practical examples of ways to help each other such as doing chores, writing a kind note, purchasing a small gift, letting others take turns first with tech time, and older children helping younger children learn a new skill. Rotate names each week so every person in the home has at least one turn doing something kind for each family member.

Friend Helping Challenge – Identify a neighbor or friend in need this holiday season. Work with your children to assemble a care package of food, gifts, or practical time donated to help this individual. Make it a family project where each person in the family contributes ideas on how to support this individual.

Neighbor Helping Challenge – Plan a way to spread happy holiday vibes to your neighbors by shoveling their walkways or baking them Christmas treats. Work with your children to try to think of unique ways to help your neighbors.

Operation Christmas Child Gift Box – Learn about the less fortunate in other parts of the world by preparing an operation Christmas Child gift box. Take time to explore with your children how to be mindful and aware of the needs in our world.

Make the most of this holiday season by teaching your children about how to give back and live in a state of gratitude. My mom always used to remind us growing up to remember the reason for the holiday season. I believe focusing on counting our blessings and giving back to others are two of the most important themes to teach our children to reflect on in this special season. Happy holidays and enjoy your time family this Christmas season!