An image of a framed certificate for toilet twinning, a charity gift that helps to make Christmas special for others.

Fun Family Christmas Traditions that Help Others Less Fortunate

It’s easy for kids to get caught up in all the excitement of presents and parties at Christmas, without pausing to think about ways they can make Christmas special for others. These Fun Family Christmas Traditions help to focus our kid’s thinking (and ours) on others less fortunate than us at this time of year, making Christmas more meaningful for us all.

If you’re anything like me, you think of Christmas as a time for family gatherings, giving, and reflecting on the Christmas story. Teaching these values to our little ones is so important in a world that is often focused on ‘me, me, me!’

I love to empower my kids, with the knowledge that they CAN make a difference in this world, no matter how little they are! They can make the world a better place and impact other people’s lives for good.

These 11 Family Christmas Traditions give us an opportunity to do just that with our little ones.

How Can I Make Christmas Special for Others?

This is the question we began asking ourselves as a family.

It’s important to us, that our kids grow up knowing that even though they are super special, the world is not just for them or about them.

We want them to know that there are others out there who are less fortunate than them and that they have the power to help others and make life better for other people, especially at Christmas.

We all want to make the world a better place, and these 11 Fun Family Christmas Traditions give you lots of ways you can help make Christmas special for others who are less fortunate.

I have included a mixture of family Christmas traditions that involve buying gifts for others together as a family and ones that involve offering up your time as a family to bless others.

There is always something that everyone can contribute, no matter how small.

I hope you find your next Family Christmas tradition amongst this list and that you and your family are blessed as you focus on helping others less fortunate this Christmas season.

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1. Buy a Christmas Present for a Child Living in Poverty

This one is great for kids of all ages.

There are so many Christmas present appeals, looking for new toys for children living in poverty who would not otherwise receive a Christmas present. Our local Salvation Army does a toy appeal in our community.

This is a great thing to do with your kids as it reminds them how lucky they are and teaches them to consider others less fortunate than themselves.

My kids love going and picking out toys; choosing one for someone else helps take that focus off them for a minute.

2. Visiting a Local Care Home for Older People

Older people, especially those without relatives or friends to visit, can feel lonely at this time of year as others gather together to celebrate Christmas.

I used to work in a home for older people and while some were inundated with visitors, others didn’t even get one visitor on Christmas. It was so sad to watch.

The majority of older people in the care home that I worked in just adored seeing little children come to visit.

Christmas is a great time to arrange to visit as a family, or as a playgroup, school group, or church group.

Singing Christmas carols and then handing round some bags of sweets goes down an absolute treat, I can tell you!

Encouraging your children to chat with the older people at the end of the songs and get to know them really brightens their day.

If singing is not your thing, how about organizing a few easy armchair games for your kids to play with them. Bowling, beanbag toss, hoop toss, or Bingo are always popular.

For more game ideas, check out, The Best Inclusive Family Games to Try Now. It has ideas of games that will suit 3-year-olds, right up to 100 year olds!

3. Food Bank Reverse Advent Calendar

This is an idea I saw on one of those ‘mums’ groups on Facebook. A lady said that her son and her did a reverse advent calendar for the Food Bank Charity.

We gave it a go the following year and it has now become a fun family Christmas tradition in our home too.

We choose to do it during November, so that it is donated in time to be distributed over Christmas.

Each day of the month we add a food or toiletries item to a box and then at the end of the month we donate the box to the local food bank. My kids choose the items to add (with a little guidance sometimes!) and then they come with me to donate it.

I love that they can see that even though they are little, they have the power to make a positive difference in someone else’s life!

If you’ve not heard of Food Banks or are unsure how they work, you can find out about Food Banks in the US from Feeding America, and Food Banks in the UK from The Trussell Trust.

4. Make Homemade Christmas Cards and Baking for Neighbours

If your family is into arts and crafts, then one way you could be making Christmas special for others this year is by making homemade Christmas cards for neighbours.

Alternatively, if you love baking, you could bake little treats for your neighbors or older, lonely, members of your community as gifts.

A little gesture like this can mean so much to someone who feels all alone this Christmas, and it can really cheer up your local community and neighborhood by giving little gifts to one another.

5. Shoebox Appeal

The Shoebox appeal is something that I have been doing for as long as I can remember.

I always used to do it with my mum growing up and loved to get that empty shoebox and start filling it with necessities and treats for someone in a far off country, less fortunate than me.

It became a much-loved Family Christmas tradition for me, and I still love doing it with my kids.

It’s a great way of making Christmas special for others and doing your bit to make the world a better place.

If you’ve not heard of it before, it basically involves getting an old shoebox and wrapping it up with christmas paper.

You get the checklist with essential items to include and then ideas for extra gifts. Then you simply fill it up and drop it off at your nearest collection point.

In the UK I participate in the Blythswood Care shoebox appeal. The US has a similar one run by The Samaritans Purse.

6. Consider Sponsoring a Child

Sponsoring a child in a developing country is such a great thing to do with your family.

We sponsor a child through Compassion and it’s so lovely to see your little kids growing up learning to think about others and help them.

We write letters to our sponsored child and get to know them, which the kids can get involved with too.

My kids love choosing a photo to include with our card each time. We chose the online option so it can be sent quicker and it’s not held up if we run out of stamps or keep forgetting to post it!

At Christmas time there is the option to send a monetary gift to the child you sponsor so they can be given a Christmas present.

This has become one of our family traditions, along with writing them a Christmas card and sending a Christmas picture!

7. Donate to a Local Homeless Shelter or Women’s Aid Refuge

You could donate toiletries, Christmas gifts, or baking.

Ask the staff at the shelter what they need or what they think their clients would like. I think the ‘it’s the thought that counts’ mentality is important here.

Sometimes the best part about getting a Christmas present from someone is just the fact that they have given you something and that means they have thought about you.

Sending someone the message that they are important, valued, and not forgotten is powerful.

8. Volunteer to Serve Christmas Dinner to those in Need

This may require your kids to be a bit older than mine. I imagine mine would create a bit of chaos at a big lunch, especially if they were ‘helping’ to serve it!

If you’re able and you feel it is something for your family, there are often community lunches happening on Christmas day for those experiencing homelessness, older people, or others who are feeling lonely on Christmas.

The Salvation Army is a great charity who facilitate this in our local community.

If you’re more of a cook, or a behind the scenes person, you could volunteer in the kitchen to prepare the food or offer baking, or little bags of sweets for the guests to take away with them at the end of the meal.

9. Give a ‘Gift That Matters’ this Christmas

How often have you wondered what to gift to that person who really does have everything they could ever need or want?

Doesn’t that sum up many of us in the Western world, if we really think about it?

I love these ‘gifts that matter’, as I call them.

This is where you give that money that you would have spent on a friend or family’s Christmas present to a charity for a specific gift for a poorer person. They give you a little card to give to your loved one, telling them that you have given, for example, a goat on their behalf.

There are so many things that you can gift with this idea.

I love that you can still personalise this gift to the person your giving to. It means you can still make it a very meaningful Christmas gift

I have had such fun with this! My relationship with my little brother is very jokey and he loves receiving these kinds of gifts for his Christmas present. So instead of something sensible, one year I gave him a ‘pile of poo’ (manure for a farming family to grow more crops!).

It gave him rather a laugh on Christmas day!

Multiple charities offer these kinds of gifts, and you might already know one, but if you are unsure where to start looking, these are my favorites: Action Aid, Christian Aid, World Vision, and my absolute favorite, Toilet Twinning.

Toilet Twinning

Tearfund, who run the Toilet Twinning program, allow you to twin your toilet, or someone else’s, toilet so that you pay for a toilet to be built in a developing country where they really need one.

They then send you a certificate with a photo of the type of toilet they are building, and the real coordinates of the toilet so you can look it up on a map for yourself!

I love how transparent this is!

I just think this is such a cool thing to do and such a great tangible gift. You can wrap up the certificate they send you to gift to someone, and you both know that through this gift you are making a real difference to other people.

You’re making Christmas special for others and at the same time, it is a great way to make Christmas more meaningful for you and your family.

10. Invite a Lonely Neighbour for Christmas Lunch

Christmas is a time for loved ones to gather together and spend good-quality family time together. This is one of the ways we make Christmas meaningful.

However, the sad reality is that Christmas is an incredibly lonely time for many people.

One great way to make Christmas more meaningful is by making Christmas special for others.

In the lead-up to Christmas have a conscious look around your neighborhood and consider if any of your neighbors, or anyone you know really, might be spending Christmas alone. Invite them over for Christmas dinner, or even Christmas Eve dinner.

You’ll be amazed how much a gesture like this will mean to someone living alone.

I still remember my mum inviting someone over for Christmas day when I was a child, and it only enriched our family Christmas to share it with someone else who may otherwise have spent the day alone.

11. Have a Pre-Christmas Clear-Out and donate to a local charity shop or goodwill

October or November time is a great time to start having a pre-Christmas clear-out of your old stuff.

This is partly to make room for new Christmas gifts, and avoid being overwhelmed by clutter and ‘stuff’, but also to bless others and make Christmas special for them.

By gifting your unused and unwanted items to charity or goodwill, you are not only helping to raise vital funds for that charity, but you are also allowing others to enjoy and make use of your unwanted items.

Try to do this in plenty of time before Christmas, especially if you have good quality donations, or even new in-box gifts from birthdays or last Christmas that are unwanted.

These could make perfect Christmas presents for someone else who is looking for Christmas gifts on a tight budget.

Often it can be the little things like this that help in making Christmas special for others.

How Can I Make Christmas More Meaningful?

I hope these 11 Family Christmas Traditions provide inspiration to make Christmas more meaningful for your family as you focus on others this year.

Another way to make Christmas more meaningful is to spend more time with the people that matter most to you. Less presents, more presence, as the cringey saying goes!

Looking into the real meaning of Christmas can make the season more meaningful for some people. I, personally, love reading the bible story of the first Christmas and attending a carol service on Christmas Eve.

Whatever you and your family choose to do this year, I hope you have a lovely Christmas when it comes.

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