10 random acts of kindness your family can do for #GivingTuesday
@darby/Twenty20

After the consumer madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it's nice to take a step back from the shopping and consider ways to give back to our communities. That's why #GivingTuesday was born, and today parents all over the country are taking a moment or two to use random acts of kindness as a teachable moment for kids who are growing up in a consumer-driven, me first" culture.

Here are 10 simple ways you can help your kids participate in #GivingTuesday:

1. Pick a charity and donate

If your child loves the local animal shelter or has known the pain of a stay at a children's hospital, today's a good day to help them email or mail a donation. Whether it's a couple bucks from your kid's piggy bank or a larger amount from your bank account, Giving Tuesday is about teaching kids that money doesn't just buy things, it also helps other people.

2. Pull off a random act of fast food kindness

In the drive-thru line at Starbucks? Offer to pay for the order of the people behind you. Use the moment to have a conversation with your kids about how it's nice to be randomly nice once in awhile.

3. Get crafty

Pull out the construction paper and help your kids make thank you cards for the people in their lives who don't hear it enough. A teacher, bus driver or coach might be on your kid's list. Maybe you will be, too.

4. Send a surprise

Far flung grandparents and aunties in other states will be expecting parcels a few weeks from now at Christmas time, but they're not expecting flowers today!

5. Bake for someone

Bring your kids into the kitchen and get out the mixer (or scoop out store bought cookie dough, there's no shame in that) and bake up a treat for a friend or family member who could use some cheering up. Just don't let the kids eat all the kindness before you have a chance to deliver it to someone's door step!

6. Talk about the importance of saying thanks

Take an extra moment to say thanks today, and talk to your kids about why it's important to use their manners. Especially during the holiday season, retail workers don't always get to see people doing that.

7. Buy some diapers for your local food bank

Even if your kids are out of diapers, today's a good day to buy some. Many parents struggle with the financial cost of disposable diapers and don't have the resources to use reusable ones. You're making a Target order today anyway, right?

8. Involve your kids in thoughtful donation

Sometimes donations don't do as much good as they could because people donate things organizations don't actually need. Your local food bank may be overrun with canned goods right now, but might not have any milk. Assist your kids in calling up a charity and asking what they really need. Then, whether it's milk, food, diapers or cash, you and your kids can make it happen.

9. Brainstorm

Ask your kids for their ideas about random acts of kindness and help them act upon the ideas that seem the most reasonable. ("No, we don't have time to paint our neighbor's house, but yes, we can drop off some masks in their mailbox.")

10.  Smile

Smile at everyone. Your kids will catch on and it will be contagious. Happy giving!

[Originally published November 28, 2017]