Written by Deb del Villar, Director of Communications
Making memories and passing them along are some of grandparents’ favorite things to do.
Memories have become even more precious as we age. They have to do with our family stories and keepsakes – those intangible feelings that are aroused and those tangible items that bring deep feelings.
Traditions are a great way to pass along memories whether carried over from our childhood homes or ones we started on our own. We love to see which ones our grown children have taken to their homes and melded into their family traditions.
So what are some things you can do this season to purposefully make memories with your grandchildren?
Enjoy some of our ideas below. May one or more spark an interest or a new idea to try with your grandkids.
As you think of things to do, focus on building relationships with not only your grandchildren but with Jesus Himself – the reason for the season.
- Have a child-safe nativity set that they can play with readily available.
- Play ‘pin the baby Jesus on the manger’ by cutting out a large manger pattern and several copies of baby Jesus. I use free download coloring pages to make mine.
- Play “musical wreath or package” by passing around either object while music plays. Follow the rules for musical chairs or “hot potato.”
- You could hide a star while their eyes are closed. While their eyes are closed, you can have them chant “Wise men, wise men, where is your star? You will need it or you won’t get far.” Allow them to open their eyes and search for it.
- Consider filling up a stocking with small toys and treats to give to an area shelter or foster service.
- Place various Christmas items in a stocking. With eyes closed, the grandchild chooses an item and tries to guess what it is only by touch. Open your eyes and see if they were correct. Use this as an opportunity to tell that part of the Christmas story.
- Have items hidden around the house. Hand out clues in picture, word, or Scripture form depending on the ages of your grandchildren.
- Play ‘Who am I?’ like the HeadBanz game. Write or draw objects or people from the Christmas story on index cards [older grandkids go back to the Garden of Eden]. Place the chosen index card in the elastic headband. The one wearing the headband can only ask questions based on yes or no answers. (You could use the same cards and play Pictionary.)
- Consider purchasing a puzzle to build throughout the holiday season – this activity is one of our favorites!
- Pinterest has an idea called “You’ve been Socked.” You place items inside the stocking and hang it on a neighbor’s door with a sign that reads, “You’ve been socked.” Be creative and think of items that point to the reason for the season. Include a note or scripture verse.
Middle School to High School
- Charades and Scattegories are great ones to play.
- Christmas quizzes or trivia games are readily available around song titles, facts about Christmas, and symbols of Christmas.
- Minute-to-win-it games will be a crowd-pleaser and lots are available on Pinterest.
- Look around your area for a service project that you can participate in as a family. If you live far away and cannot do it together, research a cause you can donate to such as Angel Tree or Samaritans Purse. Maybe your grandkids’ church is doing something and you can join them.
- Make a paper chain of rings with each ring standing for the number of days until Christmas. Each day read from the Luke account then remove one ring.
- Napkin rings and placemats could be made for the holiday table.
- Wrapping paper can be made from butcher block paper with grandchildren’s handprints or Christmas-shaped cookie cutters or sponges dipped in paint.
- Make a tray of Christmas cookies to bring to a neighbor or shut-in from church.
- Advent wreaths or Jesse Trees are great ways to prepare your heart for the celebration of Emmanuel’s coming.
- Our grandchildren loved making story stones last Christmas – these can be found on Pinterest. Each child’s set was unique. We are going to add to them this year.
Separated by Distance
- Try to be creative and think of ways to include distanced grandkids in some of your holiday traditions.
- Another is to send a box of age-appropriate goodies for them to enjoy over the holidays. An example would be hot chocolate packets, marshmallows, and a Christmas DVD. The box could include craft items or recipe ingredients.
- Every year my mom purchased an ornament for each grandchild. She tried to pick one out that would mean something to them – a great way to show how special they were to her.
- Schedule a time to connect via technology and read them the Christmas story.
- Do you have Christmas decorations you are no longer using? Gift them to the grandkids along with the story behind them.
- 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.
Lots more great ideas can be found in Long Distance Grandparenting by Wayne Rice.
Maybe your grandchild is not yet here but on the way!
- Let your children know you are praying for this precious little one.
- Write out a ‘first Christmas’ prayer for the yet-to-be-born grandbaby.
- Make entries in a journal about what it is like waiting for them. Connect it to the Israel nation waiting for Promised One to come.
- Start a Christmas book collection for the baby – writing notes in each one about why it was chosen.
The Advent season heralds the beginning of the Christmas celebration. It is upon us. What will you do this year to bring purpose, pointing grandchildren to the giver of gifts – the best gift of all – JESUS?
As you have fun, listen, learn, and laugh with your grandkids, these precious times of interaction and conversation may open up great opportunities to share truth with grace. Allow your own faith journey to naturally be part of your sharing time.
The best present we can give our grandchildren is our presence as we share the greatest presence – God Himself born Emmanuel, God with us always and forever!