Creating a kindness branch

Kindness branch

My boys are old enough now to understand how exciting Christmas can be, but the message sometimes becomes a little muddled. It’s easy for them to think it’s all about receiving.

Like many families across the country we started opening our advent calendars yesterday. It’s a nice tradition, but this year I want to add something a little different. Something that we’ll be able to see growing as the advent calendars empty. That’s why we’ve made a kindness branch.

As they get older I really want to them to think more about others, and what Christmas means (aside from getting presents). We don’t emphasise the religious side of Christmas, but I do want to them to start celebrating something else: kindness. Or more specifically: kindness, generosity and gratitude.

I’ve been trying to think of ways to teach the boys more about kindness and generosity. I don’t want to bully them into behaving thoughtfully with threats or bribery (or that slightly creepy Elf on the Shelf).

This is what we’re going to do:

Every evening after dinner, we’re going to take a few moments to think about what we’ve done that day to help others, or how we’ve been kind – or perhaps simply to think of something we’re thankful for. We’re then going to tie a ribbon onto our kindness branch, which is hanging in the kitchen. If they’d rather not do it one day, then that’s ok – it’s not supposed to be about cajoling them into doing something.

Kindness branch

As the weeks go on, it will get prettier and prettier – unlike the advent calendars, which will get tattier, emptier and more forlorn.

Kindness branch

I tied together a few pieces of drift wood, but you could bring in some twigs from the garden.  You could also just tie your ribbons onto a long hanging thread, or on your bannisters.

I’d love to hear what you think. Do you have any clever ways to teach your children a kinder and more generous way to approach Christmas?

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  1. Sue
    December 3, 2015 / 9:40 am

    What a delightful idea .

    • marmaladepie
      December 3, 2015 / 12:23 pm

      Thank you, I like the idea of the bannisters too xx

  2. December 3, 2015 / 9:44 am

    What a brilliant idea, Lizzie! xxxxxx

    • marmaladepie
      December 3, 2015 / 12:23 pm

      Thanks Ruth! It’s Castletown driftwood underneath the green stuff!

  3. December 3, 2015 / 1:50 pm

    I love the and what a fantastic idea. Think it is so important to remember that it isn’t all about presents and gifts 🙂 Love the colours too 🙂 xx

    • marmaladepie
      December 3, 2015 / 9:31 pm

      Thanks Jess! This is the first year I’ve really felt that I needed to encourage them to think more deeply – when they were younger they just wouldn’t have got it! x

  4. December 3, 2015 / 8:33 pm

    That is such a nice sentiment Lizzie. I hope the children play along with it. I’m not sure mine would be ready for that yet, but I will try to remember it. It might be an idea for Lent either.

    • marmaladepie
      December 3, 2015 / 9:30 pm

      My two are playing along so far. They were a little puzzled at first, but actually seemed to enjoy it more today. Another few years and they definitely won’t be interested – I thought now would be a good moment to try it x

  5. December 3, 2015 / 9:58 pm

    What a lovely idea :). I agree that there is no point cajoling them to do it otherwise it loses its meaning. I think this is is actually quite a difficult concept to teach children which may seem bizarre. As adults it might come naturally to us, but children live in the here and now and hence can seem quite selfish through an adults eyes and mind. I try to model this kind of behaviour in front of the children so they can see that it is important to be kind, even to those we may not like.

    • marmaladepie
      December 4, 2015 / 9:11 pm

      Thank you! Yes, you’re completely right it is such a tricky thing to teach. I’m hoping that by talking it about it more (as well as setting a good example) it will start to trickle down to them. 🙂

  6. December 5, 2015 / 8:06 pm

    This is such a gorgeous idea, Lizzie. At 2 and 5, I think it would be lost on my two but it’s definitely something that I’d love to do when they’re a bit older. Christmas can be too ‘I want, I want’ so I like the idea of putting the focus on being kind, instead.

    • marmaladepie
      December 7, 2015 / 6:54 pm

      Ahh thanks Rachel… my eldest is nearly seven now so it felt like the right time. The ‘I wants’ were making me feel grinch-like!

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