I have butterflies in my stomach. Do you know how much I love this program, this community and this time of year? You are my people. YOU GET IT!
You understand by one simple gesture, one kind act, one remark, one genuine “thanks” … your family can change your neighborhood. Your family can change a community.
If you are new, I am beyond excited you are here.
You will join an army of moms around the world that lock arms during Christmas to say: let’s focus on GIVING, not GETTING! Let’s teach our kids through experiences vs lectures. You guys made this program go viral the first year. More importantly, you continue to serve and love your neighbors in amazing ways. You’ve shown your kids just how GOOD it feels to give.
And, for many of us, we are looking for a way to shine God’s love into our community. We often don’t even speak His name. We warm hearts and light em up through a love that overflows from our hearts. We’ve been given so very much.
I felt pressure to dream up something NEW for you this year.. and, it’s just not necessary. We need to do more of the same – with one important challenge.
2014 Challenge: Invite your kids to this party, early!
(PS – I love that I found this photo and it’s my friend’s son Elijah. If you have followed his cancer story – he is a miracle walking. Go Elijah! Keeping showing love and spreading love. You’re a role model for so many!)
I want those little hearts engaged. Let them help you with planning. Let them brainstorm and make their list. Give God a chance to move in their hearts. Help them have the courage to follow through on their ideas.
You will get all the free downloads and resources at the end, but let’s start with my Top 10 Favorite Light ‘Em Up Ideas since we began. The program started here – with a soapbox, over-it blog post. And now, it’s Chapter 12 in my new book In This House, We Will Giggle.
Top 10 Light ‘Em Up Ideas To Try
1. Love Your Garbage Collectors
Here are kids from Raleigh to Orlando making it happen.
Make them a poster and they enjoy gift cards, candy, donuts, coffee – anything!
My kids loved this sneaky adventure last year. We put $1.06 (so tax was included in a baggie with the “surprise” gift tag and taped them all through the dollar store. Can you imagine finding free money as a child? Or even a struggling adult that could use a break? We met a homeless woman in the parking lot as we left and I was out of money – Ella whispered the solution to me. Of course! “Ma’am – we just hid dollars all through that store.” And she lit up to go find some treasures. The point is often not the others – it’s how he works in us and our kids.
3. Dazzle the Mall with Candy Canes and Love
Our first year, we strolled through Lenox Mall in our double stroller and we were a candy-cane-giving-machine. We handed them out with gift tags attached. And simply said “thanks” to anyone working the week before Christmas. From security guards to makeup artists. We had tears and hugs. “No one has ever thanked us.” The girls were shy at first then would RUN to find the next person. My heart almost combusted. We even loved on Santa.
4. When a Tradition Meets Your Passions
My friend Kristen hosts an annual caroling party to the assisted living home in our neighborhood. Her family has a passion for serving the elderly and it is what they do every year. Find a way to merge your passions with a tradition.
It can be so simple. This sweet family is helping out the salvation army with the bell ringing!
5. Pay It Backwards (or Forwards)!
I wish I could remember the name of the mom (if it’s you – tell me). Her family paid for a Starbucks customer behind them in line the first year we did Light Em Up. She went back in the next day and the employee let her know that her kindness rippled on – it went on for 40 cars!!! People kept paying it back and paying it back – or forwards :). Incredible. In Tampa recently – it went almost 400 cars.
6. Encourage Great Customer Service
Everywhere I go, I find someone doing their job really well. I love to take time to fill out the survey. One day, I was so impressed by this girl – that we walked back and found her manager in the Macy’s girls department. I told her boss in person how great she was – and they asked me to fill out a card/report for her so she’d get recognized. This was her smile afterwards.
7. Feeding Someone Hungry
I love to widen the perspective in our world. Our kids need to see and understand food is a gift. And some people in our own neighborhoods do not have lunch every day. And, we can help in small ways and big ways. This is often on the heart of our kids. I suggest that you use the Planning Guide to get started – find out what your kids want to do. They are far more engaged when they are involved.
8. Let’s Go Big
Some of my favorite moments are when we go BIG unexpectedly for others. I was at the Americasmart and this lady at Starbucks just loved my necklace. Full story here – but short version. I went and bought her one. Her face is one I will never forget. She was stunned. And thanked God, and me and tons of hugs. What fun to just delight someone in a huge way.
There are so many families out there who will not do Christmas – what if we took care of that for them? We brought the meal and the gifts? Just pray and be open – God will line it up. I am splitting a turkey with the cashier at Publix. We are donating to a family in need – because he works like that!
Our Light ‘Em Up queen – Sara Easley took her kids at Mother’s Day and surprised new mothers. Just precious.
9. Expand Your Territory
Isn’t it much more fun when we have a group? My sister invited her playgroup over and they made cookies together and made their plans for Light ‘Em Up!
I purposely left off my site and light em up off the gift tags. I want the person getting the love to feel it was pure – not about a promotion.
My friend Izzy is not a mom and she does Light ‘Em Up every year and shows her teens (she mentors um, 75 of them) how do do it. This is one of her teens lighting up her high school. Notes on the lockers.
10. Meet Needs In Unexpected Ways
We did this idea with Light ‘Em Up – Mother’s Day edition and oh my word! The reaction. People just run out of wipes! Don’t you? We loved meeting this need – placing some in a favorite restaurant in our town.
One mom took her family and taped quarters to washing machines. Because during the holidays, it would be a real treat for many to save this money. Meeting real needs.
Don’t forget to DITCH the guilt! No guilt mommas!
If you get to one – that is enough. If you do it every day – that is great too. Don’t compare. Let God and your kids guide this – so it is a rich experience for all.
Download Free Light ‘Em Up Resources
- 2014 Planning Guide – start here and involve those kids; great to use in a small group setting as well; document helps focus your attention and guide your giving
- 2014 Gift Tags – these handy gift tags are so helpful for our little ones. they can get the courage to walk up and say “thanks!” and sometimes that is it. however, the recipient is left with a meaningful note that explains it all. or, when you need to leave a surprise – these tags do all the work for you!
- 2014 100 Ideas – NEW, fan favorites highlighted in RED; try 1 idea every day in december or just highlight a few you want to try; you won’t run out of ideas with this list! or make your own list!
- 2014 Classroom Ideas – NEW by Jennifer Green; so many teachers have taught their students how to “give” through light ’em up – consider these classroom ideas.
WHO IS IN?
1. Comment below!
3. Be Anonymous!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for carrying this on – all over the world year after year. Just some of your faces and photos are featured above, but there are thousands of you and I am grateful.
Let’s LIGHT ‘EM UP!!!
For more ideas on how to make virtues, love and laughter a daily part of your family life – learn more about In This House, We Will Giggle.