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Now that the holidays are over, and everyone is getting back into a normal schedule, we think it’s a great time to reflect and think ahead to how next year can be more organized, and more meaningful. Between the craziness of black Friday, and the parties, food and gifts that follow we all get a bit wrapped up in the commercialization of the season.

After things have finally wound down, take time to think about some new ideas or traditions that you can incorporate into your family next year. Often kids are entangled in so many toys and gifts during the holidays, they don’t appreciate most of them, and some are even never played with. Why not teach your kids to give as well as receive, and not just with family and friends. Here are some ideas you and your family can use next year to appreciate and enjoy the holiday season a little bit more:

1. Get a Toy, Donate a Toy
Make a deal with your kids that for each toy they receive during the holidays, they need to pick out an old toy and donate it to a local Salvation Army or Goodwill. This will not only keep your child’s toy box from getting cluttered, but it will also teach them that there are others who will appreciate items they thought were replaceable.

2. Gift Swap
To keep costs down, and lessen the craziness of the season, do a gift swap with both adults AND kids. Draw names or pick another person in any way you choose, but make sure that even the kids get a name. Encourage them to make a gift or use their allowance to buy one. From an early age kids will learn the value, and cost, of the presents they both give and receive.

3. Make Gifts
For parents, often the most remembered and treasured gift your son or daughter can give you is one that they made. The time, thought, and energy spent is much more meaningful for most. Encourage your kids to do the same with others. Help them create gifts for friends, grandparents and other relatives that shows their creative or artistic abilities.

4. Take a Trip
Many families often decide to vacation to warmer destinations during the holiday break. This of course costs a great deal of money, and on top of presents can have a huge impact on the family budget. Instead of doing both, why not just take the trip, and make some memories? Once your children are grown, they will quickly understand that most times choices have to be made and having everything they want is not an option. Why not teach them this when they are young, and help them to appreciate the trip with the family and the quality time spent together?

5. Collect Experiences
This may sound the same as taking a trip, but it can also mean fun, creative things to do around the neighborhood, house or town. Play games together as a family, keep up traditions and make new ones. Swap stockings and head to Target to fill them up together, or spend time watching a particular movie or playing a fun game.

6. Donate Gift Money
If you really want to make a huge in your holiday ways, suggest to your family to take most, or even all, of the money saved for presents and donate it to a bigger cause. Pick a local animal shelter, medical organization or even a school, and give all your money to it. To remind your kids of their charity, create a plaque or picture that commemorates your family’s donation.

7. Take a Lesson
In line with making new traditions, think of a fun activity or lesson your whole family could take together. Rock climbing, cooking or dancing are all great places to start. It can open a door for your children to experience new things, and also be done year after year.

These are just a few things you can start to do that will change your outlook on the holidays, be creative and think of more, or have a family meeting to brainstorm. The advantages go way beyond saving money. Your kids will learn to appreciate what they have, what their money is worth, and how fortunate they are. Creating charitable, satisfied children is also an asset to society as a whole, not to mention your family!

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