Every year I give donations to organizations in lieu of material gifts to my friends and family for the holidays. I’ve been doing this for about 15 years now and yes I apply this practice to the children of my friends also, telling them what I am doing and encouraging them to do the same.

For those of you who want to take a baby step towards transitioning to a completely charitable holiday, you can buy some ornaments ($20-$30 each) designed by celebrities (or by you) at HSN, with proceeds that will go to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Center.

My donations this year went to Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, and Habitat for Humanity. Today I just learned of an organization which sends food/care packages to troops overseas called Jacob’s Light, started by a mother who would send regular care packages to her son. When her son was killed, she continued to send care packages to soldiers who had no one to send them packages, or those stationed in remote areas without basic necessities like toothpaste or tampons. A philanthropist had given them some grants which will run out shortly, so if you can help, please do by volunteering, writing letters, packing, shopping, or giving them a donation.

Introducing the concept of charity to materialistic kids (or adults) may be met with confusion and resistance, but exposure to new ideas is how we grow. What traits would you rather grow than compassion and generosity? What better season to plant the seeds of charity than the holidays?