Creating New Holiday Traditions of Giving with Kids and Loved Ones

The first several holidays after a separation or divorce are extremely difficult.  Adjusting to on and off parenting schedules where your kids are not with you everyday is challenging to cope with.  Even with adult children, time is typically divided with by household.  Some traditions continue and others end.  One of the best ways to cope is actively building new traditions, including giving. 

The wonderful thing about giving is there are many different ways to give – it doesn’t always include donating money!  There is no question that bank accounts are extremely tight after a separation or divorce.  Engaging with your children and loved ones providing the gift of time, sharing talents and building community can be extremely powerful and even healing.

Here are some ideas to help you get started with your children, adult family members and/or friends:  Remember that you and your family have been through a lot so don’t put too much pressure on yourself either!

1. Discuss values

A great way to strengthen bonds is by discussing values. Brainstorm what is important to each person.  Provide reasons why you value each cause.  Discuss if you feel it is important to support a cause locally, nationally or worldwide.  Provide examples of support you have previously given to children who need some help to come up with some ideas of their own.  Come up with a final list of values/causes where everyone feels like they have a connection with.

2. Research

Assign each person a cause to research ways in which you can be supportive. Some examples include animal adoption, homelessness, hunger, the environment, medical cure research, caring for the elderly etc.  With younger children you can do the research and brainstorming together.  Identify organizations you would like to possibly support and the various ways to support them (volunteer, organizing food or clothing drives, donations, etc.)

Websites such as, or, are available to search and review organizations if you need a place to start.

3. Inventory

Remember that giving should not deplete us from time, money or emotionally where we have nothing or very little left.  It is an offering where you should be able to remain stable in addition to receiving the gift of giving.  Conduct an inventory of what you all have available to give.  Don’t leave anything out.  Include items such as time available, hospitality, cooking, toys, clothes, blankets or sleeping bags that aren’t being used, being handy, sewing, artistic abilities, organizational skills, etc.  This is a great exercise to determine what you have that is valuable even if it is not sitting in a bank account.

4. Impact

Discuss how supporting different causes in different ways can affects the overall outcome or impact.  For example, the number of people you are able to impact versus the degree in which one person may be affected.  It maybe that you decide that helping your elderly neighbor or inviting them over for dinner may have the impact that you connect with that also aligns with your supply of available inventory for giving.

5. Build a plan

Determine which causes you will support and how – ideally at least one where everyone is supportive and can be involved together.

Make a plan regarding each person’s ability to contribute and how to carry out.  For example, if you would like to help feed the homeless, scheduling will need to be completed.  If you are organizing a clothing or food drive in your neighborhood plan details regarding how/where to gather items, when and where the items will be donated and how to get your community involved (flyers, Facebook, Nextdoor, etc).

If monetary donations are to be made, have your kids determine how they will contribute – by using some of their allowance or planning additional chores.  Consider matching donations for your children to encourage your families overall support and involvement for the cause.

Wishing you all a peaceful and restorative holiday season!