The holidays can bring out the best in us. Our best outfits, our best behaviour, our best cooking and our most generous selves. How do we come by these actions? Where do these behaviours, skills, attitudes and values start? Over the holidays here are some activities you can do with your kids, your partner and your friends that are fun AND explore social issues. These activities have been designed for different ages and numbers of people and are easily modified to skill levels and geography. You will also find the 21/64 Home for the Holidays Activity Guide with even more activities for you and your loved ones to do around the holidays.

Elementary Age: “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood” This activity allows your kids to identify and share what they think makes up the different organizations, businesses, people and things in their community.

On a large piece of paper have your kids list off all the things that they know are in their community.  The sky’s the limit.  Have a conversation with them about all these different things that make up the community in which you live. Allow them to share their thoughts on things they have seen and experienced.  Take this list and have them draw out all the different aspects of their community. This becomes your “living document” of what makes up your community from the eyes of your children. Your kids can continue to add to this picture as they learn more about their community. Have a conversation about what your community would look like or feel like if some of those organizations or people didn’t exist.  For example, what would happen without the local library or pool? Who maintains the playground the park? Who takes care of the people who don’t have a place to call home?

Building off of this you can create a family giving project where you can find an organization to visit, volunteer with or make a donation to.

Junior High/High School: Earlier this year I was introduced to the 21Toys Empathy Toy. This is a great way for parents and kids to see and experience each other in a different way. A collaborative game, as a family you have to solve the 3D puzzle by asking open-ended questions and providing audio and tactile clues.  Once you have completed the different challenges have a conversation about what empathy is and how language can be used to support or hinder each other. From this experience you can expand upon the concepts to those who are outside of your immediate circle and what challenges they face and how, as a family you can help them.

Adults, Friends & Colleagues: Night of 100 Dinners is a program that I designed first for the Jewish Federation of MetroWest New Jersey in the early 2000’s. I then brought it to Calgary as part of a women’s campaign. Combining Giving Circles and a Progressive Dinner Party, this evening event brings people together with the purpose to learn about a local issue from an expert in the field and raise funds all the while enjoying good food & drink, and company.

There are two ways that this type of activity works:

  1. Over the course of the evening guests move to different locations for different courses. At each new location there is a different guest presenter on the host’s favourite charity. At the end of the of the evening donations are pooled together and split among the different charities that presented that evening.
  2. Guests are invited to a person’s home for a dinner with a guest speaker from a local organization. The purpose of the evening to raise awareness on a specific issue in the community or opportunity for the group to get involved with. At the end of the evening guests are invited to make a donation of Time, Talent, Treasures or Ties to the organization/project/issue.

Entire Family or Group of Friends: City-wide Scavenger Hunt. This is a fun way to explore your community, use social media to share a story and raise awareness around different issues in your community. Breaking off into mixed age and gender teams (when appropriate) the host provides a list of clues that participants need to solve by taking a picture, doing an activity, or somehow documenting an experience. These activities should be diverse and physical and mental ability should be considered in the planning out of the different challenges.  Teams race to the end and share what they did. If social media is used it is important to make sure that you ask permission of your teammates before posting images and it is always good to tag your posts with the business or organization that you are visiting. Prizes should be age appropriate and enhance the overall Scavenger Hunt experience.

What are some of the other activities you do with your family and friends to support your community? Looking for other ideas? Sign up for our newsletter where we share additional resources and tools to support you in your philanthropic journey.