Fun and Compassionate Family Ideas for the Holidays
It's easy to get caught up in the rush of the holiday season and the consumerism that goes with it. While some kids clamor for this toy and that toy, we have to remember the real holiday message of spiritual compassion. This holiday season, take a few moments to plan fun, meaningful activities with your children. Even in the midst of holiday chaos, the Holidays can retain some of their original meaning.
by Kerrie Saunders, Ph.D.
Consider the ideas below, and gather any necessary materials right away. Place them in a bag in the closet, and then mark your family calendar for the special day you'll spend together! Remember that discussions are meant to engage the child's thought process, inspire creativity, and support the fact that your home is a place where ideas can be expressed freely and respectfully.
Above all, try not to get too concerned with material details. The goal here is to have fun as a family. Happy Holidays!
- Take a day trip (or an internet trip) to Farm Sanctuary to visit the animals. You can discuss how grateful the animals are to be able to live in such a loving home. You can talk about how animals appear in your Holiday stories (from The Bible, Koran, Torah, etc.), and also how they are used in Holidays today. (needed: transportation, lunch, and/or internet access)
- Decorate the trees in your yard with popcorn strings for the birds. (needed: popped popcorn, thread, needle to thread the popcorn - with parental supervision)
- Make a bird feeder by putting peanut butter on a pinecone, and then rolling them in birdseed. A string can be tied around the top of the pinecone, and then onto a branch in view of your house window. (needed: pinecones, birdseed, peanut butter, spatula or spoon, string, scissors - with parental supervision)
- Gather leaves and pine needles during the late fall, and pretend you are making the bedding that creatures would use for their babies. (needed: leaves, pine needles, bag or basket)
- Request that each person in the family select a thing or two that s/he would like to donate to families in need during the Holiday season. (needed: unwanted or unused items, bag)
- Make a quilt with a square specially designed by each person in the family that relates to ideas of compassion of the holiday season. (needed: fabric, thread, needles - with parental supervision, and someone with sewing ability!)
- Plant a winter garden together as a family, that can be later transplanted outdoors. (needed: seeds, soil, planting pot, water)
- Compassion Coupons: Each member of the family writes down something s/he is willing to do for another family member, AND something s/he is willing to do for the animals or the environment. (needed: construction paper, markers, scissors - with parental supervision)
- Put together a small basket of just a few various items like organic baby food, cruelty-free baby products, clothing, socks, etc. Include some written material about the compassionate message of veganism, and donate it to someone in need who has a baby right around the holidays. (needed: various baby items, written materials like the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Vegetarian Starter Kit, or information from Vegetarian Baby and Child magazine, VegFamily.com, etc.)
- Choose a Charity - Select two or three charities that are cruelty-free and have your family vote on one to support as a holiday project. You might collect loose change, offer chores to your children for various monetary amounts, or have a garage sale. The money collected will be sent on behalf of your family to the charity selected. (needed: a little background research on two or three cruelty-free charities, a way to raise money in about a day, an envelope, check for total amount, and stamp)
- Consider planting a tree (or several) each holiday season. Depending on the climate and type of tree selected, consider starting the seedling indoors and waiting until summer to transplant. (needed: soil, tree or seedling in a pot)
- Make homemade wrapping paper. You can use newspapers, pages from magazines or coloring books, brown paper bags, recycled gift wrap, shoe boxes, gift tissue, etc. Consider personalizing with markers, crayons, earth inks, stampers, or paints! (needed: various papers, wahable markers, crayons, stampers, paints, or earth inks - with parental supervision)
- Consider becoming the guardian of an animal. The animal shelters and humane societies are filled with animals needing safe and warm homes! Be sure to discuss the different types of animals to decide which fits best with your family lifestyle. (needed: lots of thinking time)
- Pick a favorite family recipe that was not traditionally vegan, and make the necessary modifications. Enjoy the process of making it and eating it together, and consider a discussion on how you have benefited the animals and the environment by the switch in ingredients. Bon Appetit! (needed: old family recipe, necessary ingredients and utensils - with parental supervision)
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