I can't remember exactly where I originally got this idea, sometime when I was researching ideas for one of the kids' birthday parties, I think. But I'm so glad we tried it out for Christmas. I think it's an excellent way to get kids ready for what is usually their favorite part of Christmas.
Step One - wrapping practice:
Let your kids pick an everyday object from around the house that they can wrap for another family member. Help them think through what that person would need, like, or appreciate receiving. Go through the steps of measuring paper, cutting it to size, folding, and taping the paper neatly with them. Let them do as much as they can by themselves. If nothing else, their fingers are just the right size to hold the tape. :-)
Step Two - gracious receiving:
In addition to picking items for each other, we let the kids each pick something for me and the hubster and stick those "gifts" in our stockings. Then we talked about how we each put some effort into choosing gifts for the others, just like others will have done for us on Christmas. We discussed how we all want to feel like the other person likes and appreciates the gift we have given and the thought that went into it, so we should try to make them feel that way too, even if what we open may not have been exactly what we wanted or expected. (This will hopefully avoid that embarrassing moment when the kid says, "Hey!! I didn't want this!!")
I went first and opened my striped trouser socks. ;-) I demonstrated gracious receiving by thanking them for their thoughtfulness and saying one or two things I really liked about it - they were a great color and they would keep my feet warm inside my shoes. Hubster went next - he got a tennis ball.
Then the kids each got to open their gift that they other had wrapped. Silas got his toy truck from Riley. His response: "WOW!! Iss my favrite cowor! Fank you Riwey Roo!! I wuv it!" :-) (I love that kid so much!!!) Riley got one of her shoes. She thanked Silas and said that it would go great with the one that she already had and that she couldn't wait to wear it. :-)
So, your kids may already be incredibly polite and thoughtful, but I know my family benefited from the practice. And I feel a little better knowing we're a little less likely to hear them say rude things about what they receive. Nothing wrong with a little extra preparation, right?
Counting down to Christmas!!! :-)