Holiday season is here! We are all running around; shopping, decorating, cooking, traveling, spending time with family, building snowmen, more shopping, giving, receiving. Wait! What kind of message are we sending our children?

A twist to the “wish list”
Let’s switch this up! Instead of writing a “wish list” of things; sit down with your kids and make a goals “wish list”, including short and long term goals.  It could include a list of faith goals, education goals, behavior goals, etc. Be sure to make it on a large poster board and hang it up. That way, they can track their progress throughout the year. I also suggest giving rewards or certificates for their progress. As an extra benefit; make one yourself! It will show your children that you are in this as a family and not putting expectations on them you are not willing to return.

Pros and cons
What do you do with the “wish list” your child comes home from school with? Sit down with them and make a pros and cons list about every item on their list. You can help them by giving suggestions if they get stuck (this will usually happen in the cons section). By the end they can only pick one…or however many you are willing to get them. Before making the list, be sure to tell them how many they are to narrow it down to. That way it won’t come as a shocker when they can only pick one or two things from a list of 20. So they don’t get overwhelmed by so many options; I suggest breaking the items into groups. E.g. Items #1-3 in a group, #4-6, etc. or  video games in a group, action figures in another, etc.) Once you get it down to one item per group, put them together into one group and continue narrowing down. My son did this with 3 things he REALLY wanted but he only had enough money to buy one and after that list, he bought that one thing and hasn’t even thought about the other two since!

Giving back
Giving back is what it’s all about! My son and I are beginning a new tradition this year that I am challenging you to begin with your families as well. For one of his presents, I will be giving him $25 to creatively bless someone in need. He cannot just turn around and give the $25 to someone. This will be a time for him to get involved in his giving. Some examples are; to find his area of interest like starving children and to go out and find some children who are hungry then buy them some food, or for us to go for a walk and intentionally look for needs in the area and fulfill the need as he sees a need. If $25 is not enough, he can take the money and flip it by buying supplies to paint with and selling his artwork, etc. to raise however much is needed to help the person in need.

Healthy alternative
What are you putting in your child’s stocking? Instead of candy and other trinkets that will get played with once; try healthy alternatives. Like a jump rope and other toys that will get them moving and foods like nuts and fruit snacks. You can even go for a healthy alternative with your advent calendar, buy one that allows you to choose what you put in it. We put vitamins in ours last year and this year, folded up pieces of paper with simple fitness challenges on them. E.g. First day of the countdown was 25 seconds DANCE! Day two: 24 jumping jacks, etc. Do the challenges as a family to add to the fun! We call it 25 days of Christmas Fitness Challenge and it has been a big hit!

And most of all, remember to celebrate Jesus this Holiday season; He is the reason!

Ashley Fordinal is the Children’s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.