For eleven years we have been part of a proud tradition in our community: delivering Christmas cards to all the homes and businesses that make up our school community. We mail them to agencies and businesses involved with our school community. It is so easy, helps build community and teaches our students to do things for others.
Students love making cards. And they don’t need to be just for Christmas. You can apply this strategy to any type of holiday at any time of year.
Here is how you can start the tradition for yourself.
Make the Handmade Christmas Cards
Students collect all kinds of goodies like stickers, glitter, paper and old Christmas cards to upcycle them into new cards. We collect these materials during the first week of December (except the used Christmas cards which has become an annual tradition to drop off after the New Year so the next year they can be used.)
Each student in our school makes 2-3 cards so we have about 1500 cards to deliver during the month of December. You can make more cards or less depending on your school population or the number of people you plan to to deliver to.
Cards are not signed by individual students. We use a rubber stamp with our school name on it as cards are checked (to make sure there’s no personal information) by adults.
Some cards wish Merry Christmas, some say Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings and other say Happy New Year. The notes from the kids inside are sweet and we don’t worry about what they look like or how things are spelled as long as they come from the heart.
If you are looking for ideas, we suggest our post Fingerprint Art for some cute and simple ways to use a little paint and fingers to make awesome designs that people love.
Some students get very creative making cards that pop-up or have special tabs with notes in them. Every single card is made special by the hard work the students put into them.
How to Deliver the Christmas Cards
Before Leaving to Deliver
One teacher from our staff usually makes a map of our community using Google Maps. Sections of the neighbourhood are divided up so that younger students don’t have to walk as far as older students to deliver the cards.
Each class signs up to deliver to a zone on the map. Sometimes we buddy up with a younger class and an older class so that younger students have a little help.
Before starting deliveries have a talk with your students about walking through the neighbourhood safely and respectfully. Remind students not to walk across lawns (use the sidewalks), re-latch gates and gently place cards in mailboxes. Take extra care crossing streets.
On Delivery Day
On a day when it is safe to walk outside, we bundle up and deliver the cards to houses one by one (usually jingling all the way).
Here is the easiest way to move a delivery down the street (and take it from us, we have done this A LOT). Have students walk in a line. Go down one side of the street. Have an adult at the end of the line and an adult at the front of the line who has the bag of cards to be delivered.
From the front of the line, send two students with a card to a house. Keep walking with the line to the next house. After the delivery, students will rejoin the line at the back. This way the line keeps moving. Send the next two students to the next house and so on. When you get to a place where you need to cross a street, wait until everyone is back in the line, cross and then resume delivery.
When you get to the end of the street, cross and deliver to the other side of the street.
Each year we tend to make more cards than we need so we’ve never run out. If you have extra cards, keep them for next year or see if there is somewhere else you can deliver them to.
Can’t walk in your neighbourhood? Consider making items for your local Meals on Wheels (easily found through a Google Search). This organization is always looking for little items to add to the meals near Christmas.
Consider dropping off a card collection at a nearby seniors care centre or legion. Homeless shelters or drop-in centres may also accept your cards. Call ahead to ask if this is possible and when a good time to drop off the cards would be.
If you live in a city with a military base, ask if there is a way to deliver cards to veterans. We’ve even made special cards for a local fire station and police station. The possibilities are endless.
While we recognize not everyone celebrates Christmas, it is hard to be annoyed by a child handing you a card to wish you well, so we don’t worry about religious differences. We are just celebrating being kind. To date, we have never had a complaint.
The cards don’t even need to say Merry Christmas, so this can technically be done any time of year. Students can just create cards that are kind and cheer someone up.
In fact, because the cards are stamped with the school name, we often get phones calls, emails and even cards sent to the school thanking the kids for their lovely cards. We share these thanks with our students so they know their kindness has had an impact.
A Quick Story to Make You Cry (Maybe)
We got a very nice letter tucked into a card that was delivered to our school just after the winter break. This is an excerpt from that card that we read to our students:
Dear Students, I just came home and found your very special card in my mailbox. It made me smile so much. I was having a very bad day until I got your card. I don’t get very many cards anymore since my friends are mostly too old or too sick to write to me.~ A recipient of one of our cards
It took a bit of sleuthing on the part of some members of our school community, but we were able to find out who had sent the card. He had signed his name, but it was cursive writing and there were a few names it could be.
My class wanted to send him a card every week for the rest of the school year. So we did. He wrote back every week. And, at the end of the year, we invited him to our end of the year assembly and picnic. The kids were so happy to meet their “card guy” face to face. We found out he lived in the senior’s care centre near our school.
That is when the staff decided we needed to spend more time at the care centre. Now, weekly, classes go over to the seniors centre. They read, play games and learn from the seniors. And sometimes the seniors learn from us (hello Google). It has been great for everyone involved and it doesn’t take as much time as you might think. The rewards are worth the time.
One of our favourite days was showing our senior friends how to use Go Noodle.
Looking for more ideas?
Do you need some books to share with your class about kindness? Check out our post Books About Kindness with a pretty great list.
If you are looking for some other great Christmas-themed activities, we have created lots of other interesting crafts with our students over the years. We’ve collected them into a series of posts you can check out.
- Recycled Paper Ornaments: Use leftover paper from newspapers, fliers or magazines to created folded paper ornaments.
- Christmas Word & Logic Activities: These logic puzzles will keep your students busy between craziness of the holiday season.
- Recycled Cork Ornaments: Put all those wine corks you have laying around your house to good use and make some new ornaments.
- Recycled Can Characters: Collect metal or cardboard cans with plastic lids (like the one’s hot chocolate or coffee comes in) and turn them into adorable holiday characters.
- Wooden Christmas Ornaments: Use wooden pieces to create adorable characters that you can hang on the tree.
- Recycled Materials: Christmas Wreaths: Create interesting wreaths by using recycled fabric.
- Simple Christmas Tree Art Projects We Love: These simple to make and create art projects are perfect for the teacher with limited art skills or time.
- Check out our list of Christmas Books We Love if you’re looking for some festive reads to add to the season.
Has your school been part of a movement like this? Let us know how you get involved with your community during the holidays in the comments below.