Laura Ingalls Wilder’s, Little House on the Prairie, was one of my favorite book series as a child. I gobbled them up as soon as they hit the library shelves. During this time of year, one quote from her seems to sum up the magic of the season:
I imagine that playing like a child again is part of the magic of being a grandparent. It is with that in mind that I have compiled this Christmastime Fun with the Grandkids list. I hope you enjoy. Please let me know if you have traditions or ideas you don’t find here.
Become a Child Again at Christmas
- While driving around looking at Christmas lights, have the kiddos dressed and ready for bed in their Christmas pj’s. Tuck them in the backseat with blankets, hot cocoa and Christmas cookies. Our kids would usually fall asleep, so it was easy to tuck them in when we got home.
- Attend a tree lighting ceremony. Fairhope, AL celebrated their annual tree lighting on November 17, 2022. Driving through this magical city will elicit ooh’s and awes until after Mardi Gras. The Christmas decorations come down after the holiday, but the trees remain lit until after Fat Tuesday.
Small town tree lightings happen all over the country. Having one tree dedicated to the city is a fun and exciting event to attend. This tree is located in Chickasaw, Alabama, just north of Mobile.
- Visit the Birmingham Zoo Glow Wild (Glow Wild will be magical now through January 16, 2023) or a local attraction that decorates for Christmas. Bellingrath Gardens in Mobile, AL has been a holiday tradition for 28 years. Walk through the gardens now through January 4th, 2023. They offer hot cocoa and snacks at the Live Oak Plaza.
- Make christmas candy together. What you make doesn’t matter. Invite your grandkids to bring their best buddy and bake something delicious. It can be fudge, divinity, cookies, or a gingerbread house. I’ve seen a YouTube video of ladies who gather with their kids every year to put a gingerbread kit together. The event takes place on a porch decorated like a winter wonderland. The floor and work surface is covered with butcher paper for easy cleanup. Sam’s has a gingerbread house kit now, that would be easy and fun to put together. No matter their age, any baking can be fun and messy!
- Visit a live nativity. Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, AL has a walk-through nativity December 7-9 from 6:45 until 8:45. It is both wheelchair and stroller accessible.
- Drop by the library in early December to check out Christmas books.
- Read a classic like “A Christmas Carol”.
- Decorate the tree together.
- Hide the pickle ornament on the Christmas tree. We have been hiding the pickle now for several years and it is still a family favorite. Even with the adults! Purchase a pickle ornament and one person hides it on the tree. The rest of the family goes on a pickle hunt and whoever finds it gets to open a gift. I usually purchase a gift just for the pickle, but you can also opt to let the winner open one of their gifts early.
- Make stocking stuffer gifts together for mom and dad and/or siblings. Some ideas include making candles, decorating small picture frames with Christmas baubles, making ornaments, putting together a hot cocoa recipe with marshmallows, etc.
- Rent a karaoke machine to sing carols at gatherings, or if you have a pianist in the family… what a wonderful memory of the family singing around the piano.
- Bake a pizza with Christmas shaped cheese and pepperoni.
- You’ll feel so much like a child at Christmas with this one! Build a quilt tent together and string some lights. Better yet, add a small tree inside just for kids, allowing them to create and decorate their own ornaments. You can add egg-crate mattress toppers to the bedding to make it a bit more comfortable for Grandpa and Grandma. Sleeping over in the tent might become a tradition everyone loves.
- Since penguins have become synonymous with Christmas, go on a penguin hunt: make a scavenger hunt list of birds in your area and mark them off as you head toward the local zoo. The last birds you’ll see are penguins at the zoo. Be sure your local zoo has penguins before you go!
- Weather permitting, have a Christmas picnic either at a local park or in your own backyard. Cut sandwiches with cookie cutters in Christmas shapes, purchase some christmas shaped treats at your local grocery store, use holiday paper products. Play Christmas Hangman – all words have to be holiday themed. Lie on your back and try to make Christmas shapes out of the clouds.
- Read the story of Jesus’ birth in the Bible and draw pictures of different scenes, like the manger, shepherds with their sheep, angels, Mary on the donkey or the wise men bowed before the Christ child. Color or paint the pictures after you draw them. Or purchase a coloring book with the story illustrated for you. Color the pages together as you read the story.
- Since your family will be gathering at Christmas, make a family tree together and tell the story of how your family began. Have your grandkids present it to the family on Christmas Day.
- Play puzzles and games: we loved playing games during the school holidays. Like old maid and go fish when they are young, Uno, tic-tac-toe, checkers, Parcheesi. Recent purchases include Code Names, Phase 10, Trivia Pursuit, Poetry for Neanderthals and Apples to Apples.
- Host a christmas movie night – this is a great opportunity for matching pj’s, christmas afghans for each child, and fun movie snacks. Drink hot chocolate out of christmas mugs with marshmallows and sprinkles, eat some popcorn with red and green candies.
- Pile all the kiddos into the back of your pick up truck with blankets, pillows and hot cocoa. Drive safely and slowly – just in your neighborhood to take them caroling with a karaoke machine. They can sing without getting out of the vehicle. This activity is for adults and children to enjoy together. If you have a golf cart and a trailer, decorate the vehicle and trailer too.
These fun activities will have you feeling like a child again at Christmas! If you have more ideas, please share them in the comments.