Written by Deb del Villar, Director of Communications
Advent season allows us to pause and prepare for the coming of Our Lord. It is a time foretold in the garden, prophesied throughout the Old Testament, and waited for with great anticipation until its arrival with Emmanuel – God with us. This time begs and encourages us to relive that expectant waiting and preparation for the Promised One to come. Celebration is the natural response to the arrival of Jesus, the long-awaited One.
How do you celebrate this time? How do you pause and prepare your heart? Many use an Advent wreath or calendar to mark the days leading up to December 25th. While there are many ways to prepare for this wonderful gift, seek to focus on the anticipation, preparation, and expectant waiting of the season. Why did Jesus have to come? How do we respond to His coming? How can you pass on your expectant joy to your grandchildren? They are naturally excited about Christmas – how can you turn their hearts toward Emmanuel and His coming?
When you are sharing with your grandchildren, think of all the things you do to get ready for their visit or for you to visit them. Allow them to help you make a list of all the things that must be accomplished. When the list is complete, discuss why all this work is willingly done. For me, no amount of work is too much for the blessing of visiting with the grandchildren. Talk about the excitement and the looking forward to spending the time together. Jesus was willing to come so we could be reconciled to God through Him. He desires to spend time with us!
Transition into what it must have been like for the Israelites waiting for the Promised One’s visit since the Garden. See how many Scripture verses or passages you can find that speak about the coming of Jesus. Choose several to read or read one every day leading up to the 25th as part of your Advent celebration. If you are unable to do this in person, consider sending by text or send by way of an app like Marco Polo.
In addition to sharing about preparations and scriptures, see below for more ideas to do with your grandchildren:
Ideas for Grandkids that Live Close By
- Shop for items to put together for a church project. Examples are purchasing needed items for a vulnerable child, a shelter, Crisis Pregnancy Center, Angel Tree, or Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas child.
- Share your favorite childhood Christmas tradition. Ask them what they like about how their family celebrates the holiday.
- Tell them about what you did with your maternal and paternal grandparents over the holidays.
- Share some of the stories behind the ornaments on the tree.
- Do you decorate the outside of your home? If so, consider sharing that we are called to be lights in the world, drawing people to Jesus.
- What are some of the must-have foods you serve? Talk about the stories behind those foods. Ask them what foods they like?
- Go for a car ride to see Christmas lights. As you enjoy the lights talk about THE LIGHT that came into the world.
- Play your Christmas music and sing along with the grandkids. Do your grandkids know your favorites? Do you know theirs?
- Have the grandkids help you decorate your tree or home. Share memories.
- Shop together for a gift for family members or purchase items to make something as a gift.
- Do you put up a nativity? Do you wait to place baby Jesus till Christmas morning? Talk about the coming of Christ.
- Gather around a piano and sing Christmas songs. Attend a Christmas concert at the grandkids’ school.
- Work on a puzzle over the Christmas break with their help. Great time for conversations and building a closer relationship.
- Discuss what celebrations/traditions you brought with you when you started to live on your own or were married. What are some celebrations/traditions you began doing for the first time after you were on your own or married? Share the reason why with grandkids over a snack or meal.
- Share a memory around a gift you received. Why was it memorable? Who gave it to you?
- Is there a favorite Christmas movie or show you watch? Try to find a time and place to watch together. You could even have hot chocolate with marshmallows.
- Share a family holiday recipe. If possible, make it together and enjoy!
- Go to a Christmas tree farm and cut down a tree together as a family. Just as no two trees are alike – no two people are either – yet God created each and every one of them.
- Sit around a fireplace or fire pit and share your favorite Christmas childhood or teen memory.
- Attend church together if possible. Does your church do special things at Christmas? Share the whys.
- What does Jesus coming – Emmanuel – God with us- mean to you? Share with your grandkids.
- Read a favorite Christmas book to the grandkids.
- Bake a plate of cookies with grandkids and deliver to a neighbor, sharing the reason for the season.
- What are your Christmas Eve celebrations? What is the story behind these celebrations?
- Read Luke 2 prior to opening gifts, thanking God for His most wonderful gift- His Son JESUS.
- Encourage grandkids to write thank you notes or make phone calls to thank people for gifts received.
Ideas for Grandkids Separated by Distance
- Call and talk to each grandchild to see what is on their Christmas list.
- Try to include them in some of your holiday traditions by using technology.
- Let them know you are praying for them if they are performing in a school or church Christmas pageant or concert. Be sure to follow up with a phone call to see how things went.
- Send a box of age appropriate goodies for them to enjoy over the holidays. Examples could be hot chocolate packets, marshmallows, or a Christmas DVD.
- Purchase or make an ornament for each grandchild that reminds them of this year. For example: if they learned soccer for the first time, you could give a soccer ball ornament, or maybe they were all about cats this year – you could send a cat ornament. Be sure to date the ornament to serve as a reminder.
- Consider choosing a scripture verse(s) for each grandchild for this next year. Let them know you will be praying it for them.
- Send a gift card to their favorite restaurant or dessert place.
- Schedule a time to connect via technology and read them the Christmas story.
- Do you have Christmas decorations or ornaments you are no longer putting up or using? Why not, gift them to the grandkids along with the story behind them.
- Send a Christmas card to each grandchild along with a personal message. It’s a good idea to include all the cards for one family in one larger envelope to avoid cards arriving on different days.
- Purchase a blank puzzle at a craft store. Draw or write a message on the puzzle, take it apart, place it in an envelope, and mail it to the grandchildren.
- Send a bag of Hershey’s Kisses and Hugs. Include instructions that a ‘kiss’ is to be given to your grandchild each day with the message this kiss and hug comes from granddad and grandma.
- For the young ones, consider making a paper chain of 24 links with an activity to do on each link. Each day they would remove the next link and complete the activity. This builds anticipation for celebrating the birth of Jesus. Sample ideas are making a birthday card for Jesus, purchase the supplies needed to make a cake for Jesus. Be creative taking into account the age and ability of your grandchild.
- Purchase two of the same Christmas book (or however many you would need for the number of grandchildren households) then send the book to each household. Using technology, schedule a time to read the book to them while they follow along in their copy. You could do for each family individually or combine into one call for all the grandchildren.
- Flat grandpa or grandma – send a photo cut out of you to the grandchildren. Encourage them to take you along on their Christmas adventures and celebrations. Maybe they can even take a photo and share it with you. The older grands may want to journal about Flat grandpa and grandma adventures. You could also do the same with photos of grandkids.
- Send a verse a day leading up to the 25th or just do the 12 days of Christmas. Could also record yourself reading it and send it by way of Marco Polo or another cell phone message app.
- Send the ingredients for a favorite family recipe along with the recipe. By way of video chat, make the recipe together.
- Share in Christmas morning by way of FaceTime or Skype.
*Adapted from Long Distance Grandparenting by Wayne Rice
Ideas for Grandparents-to-Be
- Let your children know you are praying for the unborn baby and share what you’re praying for.
- Write out a ‘first Christmas’ prayer for the unborn grandbaby – it will be a special keepsake you can share the following year.
- Make entries into a journal about what it is like waiting for them. Connect it to the story of the nation of Israel waiting for the Promised One to come. Also include the looking ahead to Christ’s return and how you are preparing for this as well. Share your thoughts with your future grandchild.
- Purchase a Baby’s First Christmas ornament for mom/dad and date it – later the grandchild will be reminded their 1st Christmas was before they were yet born!
- Hang a stocking for the newest grandbaby and invite family members to fill it with special notes, pictures, or small gifts.
- Start a Christmas book collection for Baby – writing notes in each of why the book was chosen.
Additional Resources to Check Out:
- Come Behold Adore – Advent Experience
- Advent – Resources for Thoughtfully Observing the Season
- Advent Scripture Challenge
- Advent Collection on Pinterest
The advent season heralds the beginning of the Christmas celebration, and it is upon us! What will you do this year to keep Christ in the middle? Remember to spend time preparing not only your home but your heart. Are you ready for Jesus this year, longing for Him to return, waiting expectantly for His long-awaited coming? Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly!