There's no better feeling than that of giving to others—I've always felt that way. I love shopping for presents, I happily give things away whenever I can, and I'm always on the lookout for unique gifts that will bring a smile to someone's face. I'm the first to pass on clothes that no longer fit, or baby gear we're no longer using. I love to share with relatives and friends; it makes me feel really good.
I've been modeling this behaviour for my daughter since she was little. As such, she's picked up on it, quite naturally. She's always wrapping up pretend presents and giving them to us. She creates a constant stream of artwork that she proudly presents to her grandparents, her great grandmother, her aunts and uncles, her dance teachers, her school teachers, her swimming teacher, anyone who she thinks is deserving. She helps me select and wrap gifts for relatives and friends, she happily makes birthday cards and holiday cards to accompany those presents, and she's always happy to see someone's reaction when they open her gift.
At the same time, like most kids, she loves to be the recipient of gifts. And, she gets a lot of them! Which is also a good time, I believe, to teach generosity. You've been given so many beautiful birthday gifts, now let's find some toys you're no longer using and donate them to kids who don't have as many toys as you do. And gratitude: When someone gives you a gift, it's so important to say 'thank you' and act appreciative, no matter what the gift is.
In partnership with Leger, an independent research firm, Minute Maid created the Minute Maid Moments poll which showed, among other things, that despite obvious time constraints, Canadian parents are dedicated to instilling generosity in their kids from a young age, both through what they say and how they act.
It also showed that Canadian parents are in overwhelming agreement that raising caring and generous children is one of their top priorities. I am certainly among those parents.
In a follow-up to this poll, Minute Maid wanted to help Canadian parents come up with fun ways to teach generosity to their kids. To do so, they partnered with the Canadian Living Test Kitchen to develop a series of recipes that are perfect for gifting.
It's one thing to shop for a gift, wrap it up, and then have your child present it to the recipient; but, it's even more powerful to get your child involved in the process of giving—from saving money for the gift and buying it themselves to creating a gift that's made from scratch.
Since I wanted my daughter to be part of the entire process, I cleared my schedule for the morning and we got to work. I chose Minute Maid's recipe for Carrot Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Icing (printed below)...because...well...YUM! (see the Minute Maid website for more recipes that are perfect for gift-giving!)
And my kiddo and I did some baking.
While the bars were in the oven, we talked about who we might give these treats to (all the while I prayed that our creation would be pretty enough to gift!). When the bars came out of the oven they smelled delicious. I was so inspired, and figured that my kitchen was already a mess anyway, that I decided to bake some muffins too and use up the rest of the grated carrot. After I made the cream cheese icing and iced the bars as instructed, I decided to get a little creative with cookie cutters and turned some of the carrot bars into heart-shaped cakes. The recipe turned out perfectly and deliciously!
Once they were plated and ready to go, we decided to give some to 'Poppy' (my dad) who loves carrot cake, and some to 'uncle Allan' and his family because they just had a new baby. Some would be saved for daddy to enjoy after dinner.
And, each plate of treats would be accompanied by artwork—of course!
Here are some tips for raising generous kids:
Generic gifts are fine, everyone likes books and candles, but spending a bit more time shopping for something that has significance or making a gift yourself, always makes the recipient (and the giver!) feel extra special. If you're buying something as a gift, have your child create a hand-made card to accompany it.
Bring flowers to someone to brighten their day or make a gift 'just because.' Have your kids send mail to relatives or friends they don't get to see that often. Take the time to do little things, not just on special occasions, but all year long.
Being thankful and appreciative of gifts is as important as giving gifts yourself. Ensure your kids understand how important it is to say 'thank you' and/or write a thank you card when they've been given a gift. Take a photo of your child with the gift and send it to the giver, or have your child record a short 'thank you' video that you can send via email.
Kind words or helpful actions are just as powerful, if not more, than physical gifts. Volunteering at a local charity, helping a neighbour, or giving your time to others is what generosity is all about. Donating money or toys/clothing to those in need is always a great way to show kids the power of giving back.
Here's the recipe so you can bake these yummy Minute Maid bars...and help sweeten someone else's day!
Carrot Cake Bars With Cream Cheese Icing
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch each ground cloves and ground nutmeg
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup Chilled Minute Maid® Original 100% Orange Juice
Cream Cheese Icing:
1/4 cup cream cheese
4 tsp Chilled Minute Maid® Original 100% Orange Juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups icing sugar
In large bowl, beat butter with brown sugar until combined; beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla.
In separate bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, ginger, salt, cloves and nutmeg. Stir into butter mixture; mix in carrots. Stir in Chilled Minute Maid® Original 100% Orange Juice. Scrape batter into parchment paper–lined 8-inch (2 L) metal cake pan.
Bake in 325°F (160°C) oven until cake pulls away from side of pan and cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; let cool completely.
Cream Cheese Icing:
In bowl, beat together cream cheese, Chilled Minute Maid® Original 100% Orange Juice and vanilla until smooth; beat in icing sugar, one-third at a time, until thick, but smooth. Spread over cake. Cut into bars.
Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Makes: 18 bars
PER 1 BAR, RECIPE MAKES 18 BARS: about 188 cal, 2 g pro, 7 g total fat (4 g sat. fat), 30 g carb (trace dietary fibre, 23 g sugar), 37 mg chol, 101 mg sodium, 64 mg potassium. % RDI: 2% calcium, 5% iron, 16% vit A, 2% vit C, 9% folate.