Having three generations under one roof for the holidays can be extremely fun yet also stressful.
Whatever the living situation of your elderly parents is – living across the country, staying in a nursing home or even having a care professional at home via The Live-in Care Hub or similar – feeling part of everyday life is very important for seniors. Moreover, there are multiple studies showing that grandparents’ participation in family activities significantly aids brain development in children.
Here, we have 12+ suggestions on how to make December and the holidays enjoyable for every age and generation in your family!
Playing games together, indulging in creative crafts and heartwarming traditions, and exchanging priceless gestures of affection is a magical experience! More than anything else though, you need ice breakers! You can revive age-old Christmas customs or make up your very own annual festive traditions.
Check out the fantastic intergenerational games and activities below and make Christmas spectacular with grandparents!
1Advent Traditions: Advent Calendar
Instead of buying the usual commercial variation, you can create an original handmade Advent calendar at home!
Just have a look online and you’ll discover dozens of DIY advent calendar tutorials involving all kinds of materials – from sewn fabric to letter envelopes and hanging paper boxes that make up an entire advent village, like the one pictured above!
The grandparents can fill the boxes with suggestions for family activities, lines from scriptures, and chocolate coins.
2Advent Traditions: Christmas Caroling
There are wonderful classic Advent activities that include all family members of all ages. For example, making a wreath at home, gathering around the Advent Wreath, lighting a new candle every Sunday, etc.
Or are you one of those karaoke-loving families? If that is the case, taking the kids around the neighborhood, singing Christmas Carols and dropping off gifts at neighbors’ doors can be just the most appealing thing!
3Advent Traditions: Create a Jesse Tree
A Jesse tree is a decorated tree that helps children and adults learn about and be reminded of the events leading up to Jesus’ birth.
There are fancy sets available in stores and online. However, you can all create a DIY Jesse tree together, e.g. the little ones can cut out and color the ornaments, while the older generations can tell the stories and write down verses from the Old Testament.
As a base, you can use a pin board or an actual tree. Then, once you’re done with decorating the Jesse tree and sharing all the stories, you can proceed with telling the Christmas Story.
4Attend a Local Performance/Watch a Christmas Classic
You will always find enjoyable local performances of holiday favorites, such as The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, or The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.
Alternatively, you can also put on your own production with roles for every family member.
5Make DIY Christmas Decorations Together
Most grandparents have good crafts skills they can share. As long as you provide plenty of materials, scissors, Scotch tape and a huge table for everyone to gather around, fun and a mess are guaranteed!
The possibilities are endless – from button tree Christmas ornaments to cinnamon sticks with ribbons, embroidery and clay creations…
6Organize a Christmas Scavenger Hunt
Hide small presents or candy around the house and print out riddles that involve places as well as people in the game. It could be a puzzle that needs to be reassembled or lines from a poem!
7Cooking: Passing Down a Recipe
Everybody put their aprons on and have a culinary workshop! Why not pretend play to have a cooking show hosted by grandma?
Or organize a MasterChef contest involving cookie decoration? This would be a great opportunity to pass on a family recipe or pay homage to your heritage. If the grandparents or the great grandparents are immigrants from a foreign country, why not revive a traditional foreign recipe?
8Visit a Christmas Tree Farm
Many farms organize extra activities for families where you can enjoy a fun day out, roast marshmallows around a fire, ride a wagon around, drink hot chocolate and learn about farm life.
The young ones can also learn about the different types of trees. For instance, some trees may take 15 years to grow whereas others require only a year or two! Plus, the scent and atmosphere of a real tree are absolutely incomparable!
9Acts of Kindness: Christmas Shopping for Children in Need
Go on a shopping spree together where everybody has to pick a gift for a child in need. Picking toys for other kids can teach children compassion and appreciation.
Everybody can wrap the presents together, write cards and drop the packages off at a local charity or donation center. Most local charities come up with gift appeals around the holidays, so it’s fairly easy to organize!
10Make Rice Bag Heating Pads
Everybody who’s had a surgery or physical conditions that exacerbate with age knows that application of heat can alleviate a lot of pain and discomfort.
How nice would it be to teach the kids how to make therapeutic pads themselves and prepare them as a gift for a loved one! These cute DIY rice bag heating pads are portable and can be heated up in the microwave for just a few minutes!
Picking Christmas patterns with the kids will keep them excited and committed. Shapes, sizes and patterns can vary.
Each family member can make a custom therapeutic pad for another relative. You only need four things: colorful festive kitchen towels, bags of rice (not instant), scissors, and a sewing machine. Complete tutorial here.
11Make Homemade Fake Snow
Decorate festive corners in the house or just play and mold figures with artificial snow. There are ready-made packages on the market! In case you are interested in the DIY-at-home recipe, here it goes: it includes 1lb baking soda, shaving cream (unscented and organic) and 2 drops of lavender essential oil. Kids love ‘kneading’ the snow while adults can help with making a bigger mess!
12Play ‘Pass It On’
‘Pass It On’ is a hilarious family drawing game, a sort of a miscommunication game that involves drawing and interpretations of drawings! It is the artistic version of the telephone game.
The more terrible an artist you are, the better. It’s ideal for six players aged 4-99. You can find the printable game templates, instructions and video here. Share a good laugh together.
13Draw Daily Inspiration From the Multitude of Santa Claus Websites
Jokes, carols, recipes, stories, videos from the North Pole, interactive games, Santa’s blog – you can find endless sources of inspiration and giggles on the many Santa Claus websites out there.
And here is everybody’s favorite part: you can check whether you are on the nice or naughty list! Do you put your toys away every evening? And does your room sparkle like tinsel? Not to mention, that the little ones would be thrilled to see if grandma has been naughty or nice behind their back!
14Game Night: 30 Party Game Ideas
For true quality time, you can rely on a good old game night! For a smooth run, check game instructions in advance and prepare an exciting evening program.
Also, don’t forget to confiscate phones and tablets for the night and to take plenty of photos! Here is a list of 30 Christmas party games for all ages.
15On Christmas Eve, Track Santa
The NORAD website is the ideal virtual spot to spy on Santa! From the beginning of December, you can follow Saint Nick’s journey, gain intriguing insights into his toy distribution system, play games or watch a movie.
On Christmas Eve itself, more than 1,500 volunteers staff will answer your calls and emails about Santa’s progress. This is the ideal opportunity to turn your children’s curiosity into a family-bonding ritual in December!
Let everyone’s imagination soar: get a tiny elf door as a decoration piece in the living room, place cookies for the elves and spy on Santa every night!