This holiday season, give your children the gift of values. On each of the 12 days before Christmas, give one of these small gifts to your kids and start a discussion about values and why it’s important that we live by them. No matter what holiday your family celebrates, it’s a gift that will last a lifetime.

Modeling Clay

Clay is a lot like compassion – soft and pliable. As you and your children shape the clay, remind them to keep their heart soft and pliable toward people less fortunate than themselves. Make plans as a family to reach out to someone in need.

Chocolate Coins

Generosity, like chocolate, is sweet – to the giver and the receiver! As you enjoy this treat, talk about generous acts family members have done in the past. Together, plan to do one anonymous act of generosity for someone else. Then enjoy the sweet rewards of giving.

Pipe Cleaners

Just as a pipe cleaner can be bent and twisted, so can the truth. Ask your children about their experiences with honesty and dishonesty and discuss how trust was affected. Create “people” with the pipe cleaners and role-play similar situations.

A Badge

Courage, like a star-shaped badge, has many points. Ask your children about situations in their lives that require courage. Encourage them to stick up for someone who is being bullied, or to say no to things they know are wrong. Keep the lesson alive by letting each child wear the badge for a day.

A Whistle

Self-discipline means blowing the whistle on an activity that needs to be curtailed. Help your children identify one activity that requires self-discipline. Then commit as a family to use self-discipline for a week – exercise together, skip desserts, etc. Follow up on your success. What benefits did you reap? Was it worth the hardship?

A Goldfish

Talk with your children about what it means to be responsible for someone or something. Give them a fish and together make a list of tasks involved for caring for that fish. Every time a chore is carried out, put a star or checkmark next to the task.


The work that bees do to make honey has sweet rewards. As you share honey on biscuits, explain the value of work and its benefits. Select one household chore and ask, “If this were not done, how would it impact our lives?” Give your children simple chores and remind them that service with a smile makes life sweet.


Friends, like magnets, are attracted to one another. As your children explore the properties of magnets, have them share stories about their friends. Follow up by having your children do something nice for one of their buddies.

A Glue Stick

When people are loyal to something, they stick to it like glue. Explain how people can be fiercely loyal to different things – family, friends, country, principles, beliefs, etc. Have your children find pictures of things they are loyal to. Glue them to a larger piece of paper and hang it up.

A Deck of Cards

If you have ever tried to build a house of cards, you know it takes perseverance. As you and your children work on constructing a house, discuss what perseverance means. Are there areas in your children’s lives where they need to persevere? Develop a plan to address that difficulty and overcome the challenge.

A Balloon

Bragging, like a balloon, inflates a person’s thoughts of himself. While it’s OK to be proud of yourself and your accomplishments, bragging about it is impolite. Give everyone a balloon as a reminder that it is okay to be proud of their accomplishments without boasting about it to others.

A Frosted Cupcake

Respecting others and being respected is like icing on a cake – it makes relationships sweeter! As you eat the cupcakes, discuss the meaning of respect and how it is displayed through words and actions. Make a list of things that demonstrate respect, then have your children practice doing these things on a regular basis.

– Denise Yearian

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