Teaching Children to Give—Reindeer Candy Canes as Thank You’s

my worldraising giving children

Candy Cane Reindeers Dr Seuss The Grinch Who Stole Christmas The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is my favorite holiday movie. I love it not only for its whimsical characters and witty rhymes, but also for the lessons it teaches in true Dr. Seuss fashion. The one that stands out to me the most is individual choice.

The Grinch 's choice was clear: He wanted to do everything in his power to have a miserable holiday season and to ruin it for everyone else, including an innocent dog and the unsuspecting Whos in Whoville. But, in spite of all of his efforts, the Whos chose holiday cheer and togetherness over reacting negatively to their stolen Christmas.

When you are out in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, are you a Grinch? Do you focus on the increased traffic, lack of parking places, long lines, or when the person in front of you takes the last toy on the shelf—the only one Tommy really wanted? Or, do you choose holiday cheer? Do you let drivers merge into traffic, turn up the holiday tunes and sing with your children instead of focusing on the frenzied freeways? Do you notice cashiers and servers and postal workers that greet you with a smile? Those that stand in all sorts of weather to collecting donations?

Candy Cane Thank Yous Teaching children to fall in love with giving during the holidays is not only about choosing holiday cheer, it's about looking for examples of it and showing gratitude for it. A tradition we started last year to do just that was to give out candy cane thank yous to people during the holiday season. Here's what we did:

  1. Made a goal for how many candy canes we'd like to pass out and purchased them.
  2. Placed stickers on the candy canes that said: "Thank you for spreading holiday cheer!"
  3. Put them in a bag and carried them with us in the car wherever we went.
  4. Took a few into each place we visited.
  5. Took turns handing them out to people who served us, people we felt were examples of spreading holiday cheer, people that looked like they could use a pick-me-up, people who were lonely, and more.
  6. Squealed in delight when we'd get back in the car and talk about our experiences.
  7. At the end of the day, recapped together as a family the holiday cheer we witnessed, people's reactions to the thank yous, and how awesome it was to give out the candy canes.

I think the last step is one of the most important in helping children fall in love with giving. The act of giving is necessary, but feeling excited and good about it stays with you forever and not only that, it is contagious!!!

What will you do this year to spread holiday cheer?

Click here to see the candy cane making process!

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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.

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