What could be more merry than shopping for holiday presents for the kids in our lives? While it’s super fun to make their holidays magical, don’t forget to balance out all that consumerism with some charitable giving—specifically, teaching children about the spirit of giving and helping those less fortunate during the holidays. With that in mind, here are five easy ways kids can help animals this holiday season:
1. Focus on their favorite animal. Does she love horses or dolphins? Does he love K-9 dogs? This is a perfect time of year to foster that love and show them how they can help the animals they love most in this world. Find a relevant sanctuary sure to interest them, then find ways to make it real and really bring the issue home. You can sponsor an animal in their name (which usually comes with photos and updates on the animal’s progress) and even plan a visit to a local rescue where they can see these animals being helped.
2. Donate. Explain the importance of saving a percentage of their allowance money to help the world. The holidays are a perfect time to model “giving”—let them choose their favorite animal charity or shelter to help, then take them shopping for donations (or help them make a monetary donation). Many animal charities publish “wish lists” of needed items on their website—things like leashes, Kong toys, towels, plastic bags, puppy training pads, doggie shampoo and newspapers. Kids love helping animals—just watch their faces light up when they see the cats and dogs they get to help when they take a box of much-needed supplies to the local shelter.
3. Adopt. If your child is ready for the responsibility of a new cat or dog, avoid the kitten and puppy mills and find your perfect forever friend at your local animal rescue. This wonderful holiday gift is also a perfect learning opportunity for older kids.
4. Cook up some treats. Next time you and the kids pile into the kitchen to make holiday treats, make sure to add some healthy dog or cat treats to the mix. They’ll love baking for their favorite cat or dog—and learn how fun it is to bring festive cheer to others. Here are some easy and delicious-looking dog treats to try that are sure to liven up your pup’s day!
5. Help them make animal-friendly choices. Instead of gifting them passes to SeaWorld, take them whale-watching, go on a hike through nature or visit a local wildlife rehabilitation center. Instead of wrapping boxes of winter coats lined with fur or down, shop for synthetic alternatives that are just as cute and warm. When at the dinner or breakfast table, make a point to serve plenty of festive, animal-friendly options. The more you model kindness—not just at the holidays, but all year long—the more likely the children in your life will open their hearts to animals and opt for humane and kinder options.
How do you inspire the kids in your life to help animals?