This Thanksgiving, Teach Your AuPair Real American Values with #GivingTuesday

by cv harquail on November 20, 2012

Just when we’re trying to celebrate the most welcoming American tradition, and start off the winter holiday with a warm, family gathering, we get

Black Friday.  The annual celebration of consumerism and low low prices that results in shoving, pushing, overspending, and spiritual emptiness.

Black Friday is American culture at its worst.

So you can imagine my horror when one of our au pairs announced that she and her friends were planning a Black Friday outing– first to Walmart, then to the mall, with a pit stop at the new MacDonald’s.

Our Au Pair couldn’t wait to participate in what she saw as an annual celebration of shopping. Of course, she couldn’t see past the sales circulars and crazy tv ads to recognize that someone else had to leave their family celebration early to open the store doors at 11 pm on Thursday evening.

That someone had to stand guard at the entrance, to keep people from trampling over each other in a mad rush to a cheap flat-screen tv.

That someone else felt she *had* to shop that day, or her meagre budget couldn’t meet her kids’ hopes for something special from Santa.

World Homeless DayThis year, there’s a national, organized antidote to the insanity and the vulgarity that BlackFriday has become.

This antidote is #GivingTuesday, a day of giving that can help us remember that the holidays are about not only ‘giving’ but also ‘giving back’.  


#GivingTuesday is a day to demonstrate that giving back to our communities is part of a great tradition of philanthropy and volunteerism that helps keep America strong.

#GivingTuesday, being celebrated next week on November 26th, is a national initiative that brings retailers, charities, online organizations, community centers,individuals, families and more together with one common purpose —  to help and encourage each other to give more meaningfully, and celebrate the great American spirit of generosity.

What Can You Do for #GivingTuesday?

To prepare for #GivingTuesday, you, your family and your au pair can talk about what people or organizations in your community are making a positive difference. You can brainstorm around ways that you can contribute to these organizations and the work that they do.

Some ideas we came up with included:

  • Hold a bake sale and donate the proceeds.
  • Get out the crayons and posterboard (and glitter and glue gun– the whole 9 yards) to create some thank you notes to organizations we appreciate. Take these down to Starbucks and post them on the community bulletin board.
  • Set up a ‘matching challenge’, where you and your host parent partner  double the amount of their own money that your au pair and your kids agree to donate to a charity.
  • Have the kids look through every junk drawer and under every cushion, gather up the loose change and take it to the Salvation Army kettle downtown.

Here are some more suggestions for families, from the #GivingTuesday site:

  • Honor the people in your community who keep everyone safe and healthy. Prepare a meal and deliver it to their place of work. Include hand made cards, placemats, and thank you notes so that everyone in the family gets to contributes something. Deliver the meal together as a family.
  • Have a family conversation about your favorite foods and the healthy foods you having been trying to eat. Take some of those foods from your cabinets (non perishable) and bring them to your local food pantry.
  • Home Treasure Hunt! Look in your closets at home …kitchen tools, dishes, toys, books, school supplies. Collect what is not being used, what hasn’t been used in a long time, and the extras you have, and donate to a program that sets up families in new homes.
  • For an entire week, everyone in the family skips the “extras” Take the money you would have spent on after school treats, a special ice cream, or coffees from your favorite vendor, and collect it all in a jar. Donate to your local food pantry to help others get the essentials foods they need.

What We Host Parents Know

We host parents know that for our kids, and probably our au pairs too, it matters less what you do, or how much $$ are involved, than that we do something. We host parents can lead the way. We can show our kids, and our au pairs, that giving doesn’t require low low prices, a special sale, or a day of frenzied shopping.

We host parents can demonstrate that giving is something we do to support each other’s efforts to make this world a better place.

This Tuesday, November 26th, is #GivingTuesday. Give your kids and your au pair the gift of a positive example.

What might your #GivingTuesday gift be?

Share you ideas below!!


For more information on #GivingTuesday:

  • Like #GivingTuesday on Facebook =>
  • Follow #GivingTuesday us on Twitter @GivingTues
  • Follow #GivingTuesday on Pinterest  =>

See also:

The Five Actions of Gratitude
Leftover Thanksgiving Tips for your Au Pair Relationship
Our Au Pair Doesn’t Understand How Her Actions Affect Our Family
Holiday Gift Idea: The Gratitude Jar
Tip: Family Fun for Thanksgiving




Taking a Computer Lunch November 21, 2012 at 8:01 am

What a great idea. When child #2 was 7 he decided our congregation should hold a bake sale to raise money to purchase toys for homeless children at Christmas. We’re about to have our 5th bake sale. So far he has raised over $1,900 and purchased toys with the proceeds (without asking anything for himself). A couple of years ago he noticed that the organization had plenty of items for small children and girls, but almost nothing for boys his age, so he purchases items that he would enjoy. People see his crazy cart in the store, and are moved to donate coupons and rebates to him. Having a special needs sibling has definitely made him more empathetic toward other people, but having parents who support him has empowered him to act on his feelings. (This child also donates several hours a month to an organization dedicated to fighting poverty.)

DarthaStewart November 21, 2012 at 8:41 am

TACL- That’s so cool. You have a very exceptional child on your hands, and that is awesome! I am working on getting my children to the place where your son is now, and it has been very difficult. (my 11 yo has the worst case of gimme’s, and entitleds that I think I’ve seen so far, and I’m about to just cancel her Christmas!)

Taking a Computer Lunch November 21, 2012 at 11:18 pm

I do have an exceptional child but it’s also how we’re raising him. We belong to a congregation where Tzedakah (often translated as charity, but really means repairing the world) is important – we make sandwiches to feed the homeless, hold at least one community service work day event each year, donate money to specific organizations and bring in speakers to talk to the kids, and hold his bake sale.

DH and I donate our time and discuss it explicitly with him. We participate as a family in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service (the Camel comes with us).

Child #2 is now old enough to be performing his community service hours that are required for high school graduation. It’s clear to me that this is a joint task – I go with him and work along side of him.

And this may sound silly, but when he was 2 we told him “Prince” stories. We told him stories with him in the role of the prince and how he made his subjects happy. For example, they honored him with a birthday fete, and he treated each gift as if it were the best one he ever received. It worked! He loves opening gifts and makes the giver feel special. And for the holidays, we have imposed a limit – he is not permitted to ask for any gift worth more than $50. I try to keep Hanukkah gifts under $10 each day, and shop at used book sales and tag sales to keep the price even lower.

Most of my APs have enjoyed the longer shopping hours in the US. Some have been more frugal than others, choosing to save their money for special trips or sending money home to support family. A few have donated their time to The Camel’s school or another charitable organization. To date, not one has said “I want to come with you” when we volunteer, although our LCC does organize regular volunteer events and many of our APs have participated over the years.

SandyKassia November 22, 2012 at 6:24 am

Dartha Stewart
I am there with you.
My 16yo was adopted from an orphanage in Eastern Europe 2 years ago. You would think she would want to help, volunteer, etc… Nope. she has turned into a “classic” American teenage girl, and has a sense of entitlement that drives me nuts. This year things were so bad that I DID cancel her birthday AND birthday gift. She got a cake and special dinner at home with family. Her behavior has gotten better, and she is now bugging me about a very expensive camera she wants for her birthday, as she never got a birthday gift in October. GRRRRRR

SandyKassia November 22, 2012 at 6:25 am

I love the idea of limiting price in gifts. Will definitely start it (specially as my younger ones are so young). I really know where I spoiled teen. So I am trying to start a clean slate with little girls.

ex au pair 24 November 23, 2012 at 11:58 pm

TACL, I am glad to read what u said about your child, he is such a gentle soul, we need more people like him in this sometimes hostile world :)

vdotw November 24, 2012 at 4:13 pm

I like the idea of a #GivingTuesday, but since our family gives all year through monetary gifts, hours on-site at the school or church, helping other military families, or through donating goods to charities, I am struggling with what I can do on Tuesday. Maybe give to and promote a charity that does work I believe in, but that I haven’t supported before? When our AP arrives after the holidays, I certainly hope she’ll want to participate in our family’s sense of giving back!

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