**This post is part of Power of Mom’s “It Takes a Village” Fundraiser for South Africa. The author of this post, Amber Price of the blog Fun-Squared, has created a Christmas Fun Kit, which includes 8 activities for moms to just print and play with their kids this holiday season. It is $10 and 100% of the proceeds will go to South Africa.
The post below is Amber’s great idea for a Family Service Scavenger Hunt to serve in your own community this holiday season.
We put up our Christmas tree this week. I let the kids pick out a new tree, a special one, that is “theirs.” They put their own ornaments on it. The have a superhero ornament spot, a snowman ornament spot, and decorate it however they want.
It’s a flocked tree because that’s what they wanted, and it has lights that can be colored or white, or, even better, can blink back and forth between the two. They love it.
I keep finding my eight-year-old in the room with the tree, in the darkness, just staring at it. He’s mesmerized by it, and I love finding him in there, knowing that he’s feeling that magical feeling that comes with Christmas.
I worry, though, sometimes. I worry that my kids are so focused on the “stuff” of Christmas–the presents, the parties, the anticipation–even the tree. Their tree. I don’t want Christmas to be all about them. Are they getting the most important part of Christmas in their hearts?
And I worry that we don’t get enough time as a family to do what really matters, and instead we are rushing around from Christmas concert to class party, with barely any time to enjoy each other.
So my favorite Christmas tradition started spontaneously five or six years ago when we needed something fun to keep us busy during the day on Christmas Eve, and I wanted to make sure my kids were “getting” the true meaning of the season.
In an effort to get out of the house and do something for someone, we came up with the idea of a Service Scavenger Hunt. The idea behind it is very simple: get out into our community and do as much service as we can in the allotted time.
We’ve done it several different ways. It’s a little different each year and we just do what works for us that year: Sometimes we have done it with friends, and each family is a team competing against the others. We’ve done it with my family–grandparents, uncles, cousins–where we all mix up in different teams and race around town to see who can do the most service. We’ve done it as just our little family, not splitting up, but still racing around town, trying to beat the clock, to see how much service we can do in those two or three hours.
The things we do to serve have changed each year too. We don’t always even have a solid plan going into it. We just head out the door and start serving and see what ideas come to us. We will throw a few snow shovels in the back so we can stop and help someone shovel their driveway if we need to.
We’ve done super simple things to brighten someone’s day, like leaving dollars on shelves in the dollar store for people to find, or taping quarters to vending machines, or even leaving candy canes on people’s cars.
We’ve done larger things, like delivering Sub for Santa presents to families in need (big eye opener for my kids) or taking pizza to new moms. We’ve bought groceries for people who can’t afford them, or we’ve taken a gift card to a friend who had to work on Christmas Eve so that she could buy herself lunch.
One year, the year we did it with friends, we took doughnuts to the local firefighters. When we all met back together after the time was up, we discovered that all three groups had each taken doughnuts to the same firefighters without knowing the others were doing it too. The firefighters probably thought it was some kind of joke!
As you drive along, you might spot things to stop and do, like bringing someone’s trash cans up from the curb. My favorite is when the kids come up with the ideas of what we should stop to do. They might start noticing opportunities right out the window!
Each year as Christmas comes to a close, and I think back on how we spend the season, it’s this tradition that brings me the most joy. It’s simple and takes very little work or planning. It give us time to spend together as a family, and it helps my kids see how easy service can be and how everyone is in a better mood when it’s done.
As my kids look back on their Christmas memories in years to come, I hope that they will remember more than sparkling Christmas trees with superhero ornaments–I hope that they will remember Christmas Eves spent racing around town with their family, finding opportunities to serve and lift others within our community.
**Don’t forget to check out Amber’s Christmas Fun Kit. It’s only $10, and 100% of the proceeds go to South Africa!
QUESTION: What traditions do you have in your family to teach your children to serve, give, and think of others during this holiday season?
CHALLENGE: Try a service scavenger hunt with your kids sometime this month, and let us know how it goes!