Kick off the Giving Season by Helping Kids to Think Globally on “Giving Tuesday”

By Wendy As we get closer to Christmas, it’s hard to get my kids to see beyond their wish list to think about giving rather than “gimme”.

For them, “thinking globally” extends about as far as figuring out where we live in relation to the North Pole; in a big world of over 7 billion, it’s a growing concern whether Santa will be able to make all the rounds in one night.

When it comes to living close to Santa, it’s pretty sweet for us Canadians – we’re pretty much next door neighbours – and it shows by the bounty under the tree on Christmas Day.

Maybe, my kids wonder, it’s because they live so far away from the North Pole that children in some countries don’t get any Christmas gifts…

“So maybe”, I say to my kids, “Santa can use our help.” They look at me quizzically: But how?


Enter the charitable gift giving catalogue. There are many to choose from, but here are a couple to get started:

Canada Food for the Hungry “Gifts for Change” Gift Guide; and Plan Canada Gifts of Hope

I love these catalogues and what they have to offer: meaningful gifts – many under $30 - for the hard-to-buy-for person on your Christmas list; and hope for those who receive much needed training, equipment, supplies and animals. Many of these gifts are matched with a donation by a government, foundation or organizational partner that extends the reach of a gift to help even more people and communities.

My kids enjoy looking through the catalogues and choosing gifts that match the people on our list:

• seeds or gardening tools for a grandparent or neighbour with a green thumb

• school supplies or uniforms for a favourite teacher

• sports equipment for an awesome coach

This year they will get a kick out of trying to decide who most deserves “a piece of crap” – a gift that turns poop into environmentally friendly organic fertilizer for growing veggies. No doubt they will point at each other!

For bigger ticket items with an even bigger impact – like filling a stable with animals or a medical clinic with supplies – it’s fun to browse the catalogue at a family gathering, or at the office and decide on a gift as a group.

This week, Tuesday, December 2 is Giving Tuesday, which - following Black Friday and Cyber Monday – kicks off the giving season from now until Christmas. Giving charitable gifts that help our global neighbours is the perfect way to give and give back at the same time!

And there are plenty of other great ideas at Whatever you choose to do, make sure to get the kids involved - and don’t forget to Tweet your #unselfie to @GivingTuesdayCA!

How will you encourage your kids to focus on the giving, not the getting, this Christmas season?

Santa Letter Writing Program

Do your kids write a letter to Santa or are they like mine and cut up the toy catalogs and say they want everything? This year, as part of our 25 activities in December, I'm going to help my 3- and 5-year old write a letter to Santa. It'll help focus them and hopefully show them they can WANT everything but they certainly can't HAVE everything! We'll be using the templates from Canada Post (on their website HERE) so that we include some info about the kids and not just a list of things they want.

Over 6000 elves are working away, answering every letter received before December 16th, in more than 30 languages... incredible! Watch the video to see more:

Some things to remember:

  • include your mailing address so your child will get a letter back
  • mail by December 16th
  • you don't need a stamp!


Thank you to Canada Post for this wonderful program to keep the magic alive. Will your child be writing to Santa?

My Letter to the Big Guy

Santa is for everyone, right? The young, and the young at heart! Do you write a letter to Santa? Even just a quick one in your head? I dug up this gem from my blog several years ago, and it makes me laugh. With two young children to dress in snowsuits, I don't think I'll be making the same wish this year :)

Dearest Santa Claus,

When I was 12, I asked you to bring me an Ouija Board....and you did. Thank you for all of those terrifying nights spent with my girlfriends, contacting the dearly departed and causing the heads to break off of our parent's cherub angel figurine.

When I was 14, I asked you to bring me Blue Rodeo's Five Days in July CD....and you did. Thank you for allowing me to hear the most beautiful song in the world - Dark Angel. To this day, whenever I am sad, I only need to listen to this song to be lifted up (listen here).

When I was 24, I asked you to help me through a difficult time...and you did. 25 came, and I conquered my fears and moved on with my life.

When I was 28, I asked you to give me strength, and help me know how to raise a child we hadn't planned for. And you did...our little girl seems so grown up this Christmas, and we're feeling like proud parents who finally know what they're doing (sort of).

This year I'm 31. Life seems somehow more hectic and more stable, all at once. So what do I want for Christmas this year?

I've realized that wishing for world peace won't make it happen. I've realized that wishing for the Canadian Government to honour our Kyoto commitments won't happen. I've realized that wishing for our healthcare system to catch up to the research is going to take some time. And I've realized that I can't save everybody - that there will always be suffering in the world.

So I'm asking for something really simple this year. It's not too hard...a little moisture in the air. A temperature below 0 degrees Celsius....and a BIG, HUGE DUMP OF SNOW. I'm talking like 50cm. Preferably before Christmas Eve day; before my family travels all this way to visit us.

That's all I want for Christmas this year Santa Claus....can you help me?



Welcome back, Tag Along Toys! (Sponsor)

by Karen We're so excited to have Tag Along Toys back with us on Kids in the Capital. For a few reasons:

  1. TOYS!
  2. Patti Taggart, the owner, is so smart and fabulous with kids - her stores are amazing. (Yes, I said storeS - more on that soon.)
  3. We get to talk about Frozen - and who out there does not have a little one who loves Elsa and Anna? (Okay, probably some do. I'm not one of them!)
  4. Did I mention toys? (The gift-giving marathon is just around the corner!)

Before Patti started Tag Along Toys, she was an early childhood educator (ECE). She's still teaching other ECEs and using her knowledge to provide parents a place to go where their kids can get tools to play, be creative, and learn. I could spend hours just looking. I am not even kidding. I go to Tag Along regularly without Brandon so I can. ;)

Brandon-Elsa-AnnaNow for some exciting news. Just 3 months ago, Patti opened up a second location for Tag Along at Blue Heron Mall on Bank Street. This weekend, she's invited the lovely Elsa and Anna to come to the store and hang out with your kids. My son turned into a little shy guy at the Kanata store last weekend when he saw them. :)

Additionally, Patti would like to give Kids in the Capital readers a special gift for coming in.

Tag Along Toys 15% off

Just tell them we sent you!

Connect with Tag Along Toys

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Visit Tag Along Toys

Signature Centre, Kanata
499 Terry Fox Dr Monday &,Tuesday 9:30-5:30
613-270-TOYS (8697) Wednesday-Friday 9:30- 9:00
Saturday 9:30-6:00
Sunday 11:00-5:00
NEW LOCATION!!! Blue Heron Mall
1500 Bank Street Monday-Wednesday 9:30-5:30
613-738-8697 Thursday & Friday 9:30- 9:00
Saturday 9:30-5:30
Sunday 11:00-4:30

Follow Santa's Path Tonight


Christmas Eve is now upon us and as we all settle down with family and friends, there's still one guy who has lots to do.

You can track Santa’s whereabouts with NORAD’s track Santa site. It's easy. You can log on, show the kids where Santa is busy delivering his gifts and then tuck them into bed. (Remember Santa doesn't come if you're awake!). There are also games and links and you can see what's up at the North Pole.

From our Kids in the Capital family to yours, we wish you a holiday full of peace, love and lots and lots of joy.