Giving Jar…

As we head into the holiday season I wanted to take a moment to share with you a project we’re doing with our kids again this year.  My husband and I want very much for our children to value the gift of giving. In today’s society it seems so easy to want for more.  It also feels that people are willing to take far more than they are willing to give.  We desire more than that for our kids, so last year we decided to replace our traditional advent calendar with a “Giving Jar” to help countdown the days until Christmas.  The idea came to me as my oldest son and I were talking about ways in which we can help others.  He mentioned a few tasks that I knew we could accomplish, so I rounded out the list to make 24 “giving tasks”.  The tasks included things like holding the door open for someone, writing a thank you letter to a soldier, and delivering food to the local food shelf.  I typed the tasks on white paper and tied them with a ribbon and placed them in our jar.  Each morning the kids selected one scroll and they had until the end of the day to complete the task.  At the end of the day we all shared our stories and reflected on tasks we completed as a family.

This was something the kids have talked about all year long and as soon as we started putting up our Christmas tree they started asking about the “Giving Jar”.  I was delighted that the kids not only remembered the jar, but both wanted to add a few new tasks to this year’s jar.  The jar has been sitting here for a few days and every morning the kids ask if today is the day we get to start the giving jar project.  I’m very much looking forward to diving in with our first task tomorrow.

I did learn a few things last year that I thought I’d share for any of you that might be interested in doing something similar.  First,  to ensure we could complete each task I did some homework ahead of time.  I started by calling local organizations that I thought could use donations to get specific requests.  We also wanted to make sure the kids could be directly involved in most of the tasks rather than just dropping off or sending donations so I created a calendar of tasks that worked well with our schedules.  Any tasks that required family participation were scheduled on the weekends or on days when we don’t have after school activities. (Each task scroll is marked with a number so the kids are selecting tasks specifically planned for that day.  I have a master calendar of tasks on my computer for planning sake.)  We’ll make one big shopping trip as a family to buy all the toys and supplies we’ll need to complete our tasks at the beginning of the month so we have everything we need to complete the tasks throughout the month.

This month is going to be filled with some amazing opportunities for my family.  Our hope is that our children learn that giving back is a bigger gift than anything that would ever fit under a tree.


Below is a list of the tasks we’ll be doing this year with our boys ages 8 and 6.  I’ve also made a FREE PRINTABLE with all 24 tasks sized to print (4 tasks per 8.5 x 11 sheet) that just need to be cut, rolled up, tied with ribbon and placed in a jar for anyone who wants to do something similar.  I did include a blank template as well if you’d like to come up with your own tasks.  Click HERE to download the giving task printable.

Here is a sample page from the free printable.  Simply quarter the 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper using a paper cutter, roll each task and tie them with ribbon or string, number the tasks and place the tasks in a jar and you’re all set.


Today’s lunch includes a peanut butter roll-up on Lavash bread, plums, salad with ranch dressing, lefse (a traditional Norwegian food) packed in a Planet Lunch Box





This entry was posted in family fun, General, holidays, themed lunches. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Giving Jar…

  1. Kelly says:

    What a great idea! Similar to the 29 gifts movement. I would love to see some of the giving tasks on your list! :)

  2. Ann Campy says:

    The Giving Jar is a wonderful idea. Thank you for sharing. I would love to see your list.

  3. Jamie says:

    Thanks everyone! I’m going to try to make a printable list of tasks so all you’d have to do is cut them out, roll them up and put them in a jar for anyone who is interested. I’ll try to have it ready later today!! Stay tuned!

  4. Cindi says:

    Thanks for sharing this again Jamie – we are definitely doing it this year. Your end of the project slideshow last year sealed the deal for me! And thank for putting together the printables :)

  5. sonya says:

    LOOOOOOVE the jar idea. i gotta get right on this!

  6. Kelly says:

    Love this! I’ve tried to do something similar, but was not nearly as organized as you! Any chance a template of your little sign to hang on the jar is available as well? I just love this. Really – so thoughtful!
    On the same line – have you ever done a shift with “Feed My Starving Children”? ( We do this each year as a family – they did a great presentation of how much you donate feeds for how long. Like one of those tubes for mini m&m’s with quarters feeds a child for a week or month… something like that. It was very tangible for the kids. When you are done you get to find out where what you assembled is going and how long it will feed them. It was great and the kids got to actually assemble and feel part of it. Really made an impact on my boys.
    Thanks for supplying the list – we will definitely use it in our family.
    Merry Christmas!

    • Jamie says:

      Hi Kelly- Yes, as a matter of fact, we have done a shift with Feed My Starving Children and we LOVED it!! We got to work with a great team of people and the time just flew as we assembled the bags. That’s a great task recommendation! Thank you!

  7. Kristen says:

    Jamie…YOU ROCK!

  8. Dawn says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  9. Tracy says:

    I am way less organized but on the same wavelength: Your list will be helpful. I am thinking maybe we do a reverse jar idea and write down what we accomplish and then fill a jar and read it at the end?

  10. KT says:

    These are GREAT! Is there any chance we could get a copy of your “It’s better to give than receive” tag?

  11. Katherine says:

    I LOVE THIS! I am getting a jar TODAY! What an amazing idea….I am tweeting and facebooking!

  12. Jane says:

    This is wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing! I shared your idea and website on Facebook and with my MOPS group!

  13. kyle says:

    This Idea gave me chills. Such a good idea. I know your reasoning was the better to give idea, however, you have hit so many spillover benefits as well. You are teaching your kids to be others focused, as well as teaching critical thinking, and the icing is that you come together as a family and share; Learning about each other. Amazing. I would try and put one or two in that were difficult to accomplish in one day. Requiring even more problem solving and team work as a family. Alone we can do much but as a Family we can move mountains or feed a city!

  14. What wonderful ideas! I hope you will link this post to my Giving Others Christmas link up.

  15. Carol says:

    Love this idea! Thank you for sharing.

    What brand is that wonderful bento container? Exactly what I need!

  16. What a fabulous idea! I have seen so many different Advent ideas, but I love the focus here, on giving rather than receiving. I participated in the (November ) 30 days of giving challenge and loved the way it changed my focus, but, at the same time, I often felt that I was scrambling to come up with something each day. I love the idea of planning ahead and being “ready” for this one!

    I found you through the “Most Versitie Blogger Awards,” on Keitha’s Chaos and am really enjoying your site!

  17. Holly says:

    Hi! I love your ideas.. I was just wondering on #3&4 is there a website link to which organization you use to donate/write to developing countries? This is something I’ve wanted to try but I want to make sure I pick a quality organization to use!

    • Jamie Schultz says:

      Hi Holly-
      For those two tasks we write letters to two children we sponsor through World Vision. Two years ago we selected two boys the same ages as our boys to sponsor (one in Mozambique and another in Nicaragua). As part of our giving jar project we write letters to them and send a little envelope of goodies for Christmas (that’s all they allow us to send for the safety of the children and their families). Then for the other project we go through Operation Christmas Child ( This is a GREAT organization as you can submit your shoebox and actually track the package to see where in the world it goes. The distribution center we go through here in Minneapolis ships boxes to various places in India and Zambia, Africa. The boys are anxious to see where their boxes end up!! I hope that helps!

  18. Jenny Solar says:

    This is a FABULOUS idea! We will definitely be doing this next year!!

  19. Bonnie says:

    I adore this! My children would love this! Pinning for next Christmas! Thank you! Love your tag on the outside as well! ;)

  20. Lauren says:

    This is such a terrific idea, I love it! I’m a teacher and I lead an extracurricular where we do small community service projects and RAKs. I’m going to incorporate this idea into our class and have the kids draw out a RAK at the end of every meeting :)

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  22. Patti says:

    Hi! What fonts did you use for the tag on the giving jar? Also, where did you find your numbers?

    Love this idea. Thank you for sharing!!

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  25. amy says:

    This is great. I think I will adapt it for my 7th graders next year.

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