HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – During this time of year, there are many ads and influences. Many tell kids what gifts they “need,” but it’s easy to miss all the chances they have to give during the holidays.

Storewide sales and Santa’s sleigh are often front of mind, but family experts say there’s one thing that can’t be bought – the lesson of giving back.

“The holidays are terrific for these really big values children are not born knowing. The value of empathy, compassion, kindness,” family coach Tammy Gold said.

Gold says while kids may not relate to a food kitchen or end of year donations, they are more likely to understand the feeling of not having toys and be more willing to donate one.

“Families are always coming in to drop off donations for other kids,” Alicia Davis of Big Fun Toys said told CBS2’s Clark Fouraker.

Some family coaches advise ditching the stores altogether. They say kids remember things they put their time into, so try a handmade gift instead of one that can be paid for.

Children crafting homemade holiday presents. (Credit: CBS2)

“We started a kindness chart for the whole month of December, so every day we do something kind for someone else… even something as simple as taking cookies to the fire department,” parent Kelly Gottlieb said.

Family experts say kids will pick up the philanthropic virtue at different ages, but it’s ideal to start introducing them to the idea around age three.

“What you can’t do is get mad at them for not having the values you haven’t taught them,” Gold added.

Not sure where to start?

Gold says start a holiday ritual. Perhaps at a toy store that offers an opportunity buy something to donate, while buying for your family at the same time.


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