I’ve written in the past about how I handle holiday giving with my goddaughter. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite things about having started Home Key – to be able to dive into how we think and feel about the stuff coming into our lives – and then do something about it.

My god daughter is my favorite kid in the world. In the past, I have bought her lots of cool stuff. However, as time went on, I realized that she had lots of toys, and really didn’t need more from me.

That’s when I started the tradition of buying a present for her, with her – and then donating it to Toys for Tots (an organization that gives newly purchased toys to children in need for Christmas.)

So how do I do it? Today I will offer you some tips to start a tradition like this in your family.

Plan Ahead

It can be easy for this event to slip through the cracks as the holiday season gets busy. However, it is VERY important to Rubie and I, so I make sure we schedule a day to do it each year (and then stick to that schedule) so that we actually do it.

Discuss it with your kids, and then put the date on the calendar. Mark it with a sticker, even, so you don’t forget. Make it special.

Prepare for Discomfort

The first year of this tradition was hard. Rubie picked out a toy, and to donate it was hard because she wanted it for herself. But guess what? She put it in the donation bin and then it felt good. Sometimes you have to get through those few minutes of discomfort for progress to be made. It’s worth it.

Stick to Your Guns

If it is possible, for this trip, buy just the toys for the donation – and nothing else. Remember, your kids will get plenty of gifts during the gift-giving holidays. This activity is not about them. (Well, it is about them, but the gift part is not about them – it’s about giving.)

Customize it for Your Family

Maybe buying toys isn’t your thing – but there are lots of ways to help. Consider donating pet food or blankets to a shelter, or donating your time somewhere where help is needed.

Make the Day Special In Other Ways, Too

Our tradition is to come to my place after and decorate the Christmas tree. Some years we have a sleepover and make a gingerbread house. Just because stuff isn’t involved doesn’t mean it can’t be fun and meaningful.

There are a lot of benefits to this tradition, and they have only grown for Rubie and I over the years. She is developing her sense of others. She is building a relationship with me that is built on time spent together and respect – not just on what kind of presents I will bring her.

One of the best benefits? When we give toys to kids who really need it, it cuts down on the amount of stuff cluttering her room. When all is said and done, an afternoon together sure beats a forgotten stuffed animal that’s shoved under the bed.