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Judi's avatar

I need ideas for what to do with/for my grand children this Christmas.

Asked by Judi (37691 points ) November 6th, 2009

Like most people, Christmas is going to be pretty lean this year. My 5 grand kids range in age from infant to 4. In the past I have taken what I now consider the lazy route at Christmastime and bought extravagant gifts.
This year, times are leaner. I want to help make Christmas special for them, but I can’t spend hundreds of dollars.
I also don’t want to center everything around food. I lost a lot of weight and I am struggling to keep it from all creeping back on. Cookie dough is my enemy.
I live in Central California, so we can’t go out and make snow angles or anything like that.
I could also use some help with ideas for their parents as well. I am pretty good about babysitting when they want to go out together already. I need something more creative than that.
I am not real crafty, although I am creative. My husband is a contractor and is great at making things, but he is not inspired or motivated about it like I am.
I’m looking for brainstorming here. Any ideas?

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28 Answers

Likeradar's avatar

Are you looking for something to give them, or something to do on the holiday as a family?

buckyboy28's avatar

I’m not sure if you have a Michael’s craft store near you, but they have blank wooden letters that you can paint and glaze. I always enjoyed doing them as a kid, so it might be a fun idea to get their names to paint with your grandkids. (I know they are young, but throwing random paint on them is half of the fun!)

RedPowerLady's avatar

Could your hubby make a club house or play house for the kids? As a contractor I bet he could get good deals on the necessary supplies. What kid doesn’t want a club house?

figbash's avatar

I would start a tradition and have everyone gets dressed up for a night out at a holiday play, or tree-lighting ceremony – then get hot cocoa afterward. You can start to do something now that becomes ‘your thing’ together that doesn’t have to be expensive, but they can look forward to every year. This also frees their parents up to go Christmas shopping.

As for gifts, I’d just stick with the simple, classic and basic. Again, choose one thing that can be ‘your thing’ like, they get a coat, or an educational toy, or a special necklace. This takes their expectations out of the stratosphere as a child and then helps them appreciate the ‘collection’ you’ve gotten them as they get older. My grandmother used to get me 5 or so magazine subscriptions that I loved. It was a reminder that she was thinking of me every month, and now when I look back, I’m glad she got me educational items rather than trendy junk toys.

buckyboy28's avatar

Also, in lieu of snow, you could pick up an inexpensive snow cone maker at Wal-Mart or Target (~$20). That would be a fun and wintry treat! (Plus, you could make snowballs too for a little Central California snowball fight!)

ubersiren's avatar

I love @figbash‘s idea of starting a tradition with grandma out on the town. Check your local calendar of events and see if there’s some sort of holiday festival going on.

Also, if your husband is good at making things, perhaps he could make an activity table and chairs for them. Or, just the chairs. You can stencil (or freehand paint if you’re good at it) their names on the chairs. My dad, the carpenter and mom the painter did this for my sister and me and we loved our chairs! We still have them, even though our butts don’t fit in them anymore.

shego's avatar

I’m not sure exactly where you are in central Ca, but maybe you could gather a few friends with you, and their children and grand children, and then maybe go to a nursing home or a retirement home, and do caroling. Not only would you be starting a new tradition, but you would be making somebody happy, during the Christmas season. That way, you’re not really spending any money, and you are introducing the children to their first community service event.

JLeslie's avatar

I love the table and chairs and the club house, but I assume these 5 grandchildren are from at least two different children of yours, so you would have to make at least two of everything unless the club house was going to stay at your house.

Special day with grandma sounds good too.

They are so young, they are going to be happy with almost anything. 4 years old is just before really being able to remember anything long term. This year I would say it is not that important to do something memorable so to speak. I don’t mean to sound negative if I do. Just pointing it out.

forestGeek's avatar

I know it’s food, but making the frosted sugar cookies together is a lot of fun. Bake the cookies ahead of time, then have multiple different colors of frosting and sprinkles. Get creative! We did this as kids, and I also did this with my daughter for many years and we always had such great times. Also fun to photograph all the different cookies and post them for other family members to see.

Oh, and you can send the cookies home with them so you don’t eat too many!! :)

Capt_Bloth's avatar

I agree with @figbash and @shego Go out, have fun, start a tradition. Caroling is a great idea, especially with hot chocolate to follow it up.

It won’t matter what it is that you do, they are going to be happy just seeing grandma and grandpa, and memories are worth so much more than extravagant gifts.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Judi I am struggling with this for my nieces and nephews this year, too.
I always buy something for each, but we are financially leaner, and want to focus on our son & home with our dollars.

I love @RedPowerLady & @JLeslie‘s suggestions for building something special. The most special gifts from my grandparents were handcrafted ones. My grandma made me a nightgown, robe & night cap that I loved (I got to pick out the pretty flannel fabric). My grandpa made me Barbie tables and chairs, doll beds, a chair, some toy boxes-etc. Both were handy people though.

As a mom, I truly appreciate the grandparent childcare. I know it seems, maybe, like not that much…but it’s peace of mind for the parents and children.

How many different homes do you grandkids belong to? Gift memberships for their families to a zoo or museum or nature center is a great way to give to the entire family.

gemiwing's avatar

Make Holiday cards for them to give to their parents. Everyone wins!

marinelife's avatar

There is one commercial gift I have seen that I thought seemed like a treasure. It is at Hallmark stores. They have record-a-story books in which you record your voice reading them the story. Such a wonderful keepsake to have grandma reading it and to treasure forever.

As for the folks, working parents are short on one thing: time. What about coupons for errand running or making dinner? You can put whatever conditions on them you need to: You need two days notice or whatever. Those in addition to child care would be a godsend.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Marina Those books are nice and not too much either. I’ve recorded books for my son with my computer mic, and prior to that on a plain cassette tape. Kids love story readings.

@Judi Another thing my son liked (still does) was when my mom put a bunch of his photos in a little album for him. I’ve also made storybooks on Shutterfly for him with his photos…one was of his haircuts through the years at our local barber. Her name is Eileenn, and she loves our son…so we made one for her that year, too. Both got a kick out of it.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

What about starting “Judi’s Book of Family Stories” for them, with stories about you, their parents, your parents, grandparents, etc.? Add pictures. The photo services online will make them into hardbound books.

Val123's avatar

Use your imagination. Some of the kid’s favorite gifts from me were quirky things I picked up at garage sales…..costumes, stuff like that. Maybe just a big, giant hershey’s kiss or something that would make them go, “wow!” I always get the “best present” award every year! Or, for the four year old, a cool lamp of some kind? The ones that look like they have fishes swimming in them? Or an optic lamp? Those have always gone over great with my kids. They’re really inexpensive.

Judi's avatar

@Val123 I’m trying to tap YOUR imagination :-)

Val123's avatar

@Judi It’d prolly scare you to death!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

There are so many wonderful suggestions here. Gifts that touch the heart don’t need to cost a lot. One year, our nieces gave us each of us a photo of the whole family at the beach in a shadow-box frame with loose shells nestled in the bottom. Our sister once made beautiful Christmas tree skirts out of felt, sequins and fringe. She also made wooden wall calendars with wooden tiles for the months/dates/holidays/birthdays.

Any gift that shows you know someone’s preferences are always valued. My nephew-in-law is elated to receive a bag of turkey jerky or a $10 gift card to Lowe’s. Both are inexpensive, but it shows him we know what he likes. Another nephew is quite content with a bag of Sour Patch candy. One year, Mom, who no longer shops, gave me a few stock shares for my favorite clothing store.

Just let your children know that you don’t plan on being as extravagant this year/from now on so expectations are set. At the age of the grandchildren, surely they won’t notice.

As for things to do, again, there are plenty of good suggestions posted. Living a good distance from the rest of the family, if I couldn’t make it home for Thanksgiving, the day was devoted to “Meals on Wheels”, delivering dinners to the home-bound. I’m sure they would delight in seeing your grandchildren.

Our grandmother started something at their home…not really a tradition, but something that kept the 8 cousins occupied for hours. She took two boxes and filled them with old costume jewelry and hid them in the house. One became the boys’ treasure, and the other belonged to the girls. The object was to find the others’ treasure box and hide it from them, as well as keep your own hidden from the other team. It was ruthless, particularly as we got older. When Grammy died, we were fortunate to locate both boxes. One is now at Mom’s house, and the tradition continues.

Val123's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Uh…little late there!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Sorry Val…I didn’t look at the date on the original post. It just cropped up on the radar. I’ll be more careful moving forward. Thanks for the tip.

Judi's avatar

Late is OK. We only have 191 days until next Christmas! (I love your grandmothers tradition! My grandkids are 4 to 3 months. When the girls get a little older I might try that. (The oldest girl is 18 months and there are 3 boys older.) Maybe I could do it with nuclear families instead!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thanks Judi! I’ve been hoping you all might have more Christmas holidays than the one of 2009. :)

Val123's avatar

I liked your traditions too @Pied_Pfeffer! I shoulda just shut up. Sorry. :)

Val123's avatar

((((hugs)))) back at ya @Pied_Pfeffer

AZByzantium's avatar

Kids at that age really love fun day trips. Why not buy little elves hats and have them decorate them together at your house (glitter and marker), have them help you make a small batch of chocolate chip cookies, and then take them all out to “see Santa” and his reindeer (there should be something along those lines anywhere you are) and give him the cookies. Then you can get a picture with all of you dressed up with Santa and have it blown up and framed for the parents?......Just a thought. :P

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