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30 Great Things to Do With Grandkids

This holiday season, put a new twist on old traditions — or start some new ones

family activities during the christmas season- three children run through a christmas tree farm

Image Source/Corbis

Instead of picking out your Christmas tree from a grocery store parking lot, take a family trip to a farm and cut one down.

En español │1. Take grandchildren shopping for presents to give. It will help them learn that holidays aren't just about receiving gifts, but — more important — also about giving.

2. Gather traditional holiday recipes from family members and create a family holiday cookbook. Then, teach younger family members how to make their favorite dishes. Involve them — don't just show them how.

3.  Visit, plug in your family members' photos and create free comical photos and videos of yourselves as elves. Simple, silly and very entertaining!

4. Visit a Christmas tree farm. The scent of the pines, crisp cool air and hot chocolate or cider will make for a memorable experience. Bring home a tree, a wreath or simply some greenery for decorating around the house.

5. On Christmas Eve, help young family members track Santa's progress online by visiting You can monitor Santa's progress across the world in six languages.

6. Plan a family volunteering project that involves all ages. Work at a homeless shelter, serve a holiday meal, collect toys or warm winter blankets and coats, or a holiday gift basket for a needy family.

7. Remember Christmas caroling? Revive the tradition! Head out as a group into your neighborhood and spread some holiday cheer. 

8. Eat dessert first. The holidays are the perfect time to try some silliness. Why not? The kids will love it and the grown-ups will feel like kids again.

9. Have a holiday pajama party. All generations can don holiday pj's, make popcorn and watch a holiday movie together. Have a prize for the craziest pajamas!

10. Make present shopping easier by visiting or to set up a family gift exchange, if your family has grown too large to give a gift to everyone. You can also post wish lists or learn about the newest trends in gifts this season.

Next: Help your grandkids make snow candy. »

Family trip to see The Nutcracker is a common holiday treat

Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

The Nutcracker ballet is an annual favorite that can be enjoyed by even the youngest family members.

11. Put on an intergenerational family talent contest. Sing songs, recite poems, put on a skit, dance, play an instrument, show a homemade video or share yummy baked goods. Everyone can contribute something and everyone is a winner!

12. In addition to traditional presents, make a collage for each family member depicting your "what if" presents for them. A cruise, diamond necklace, week at a spa, new boat — the sky's the limit when it comes to what you'd want them to have!

13.  Take pictures as your family enjoys the holidays, and then make scrapbooks together that everyone can take home.

14.  Make snow candy. If you live in an area with good snow cover, boil some maple syrup and drizzle on a clean bank of snow. It will harden and then you can snap it into pieces of luscious maple candy.

15. Keep grandchildren entertained with the many great holiday websites. Visit Tech Digest for a list of 50 great sites. Get ideas for crafts, stories, Santa activities and more.

16. Attend a local performance of a holiday favorite, such as the Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, or The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  Better yet — put on your own production!

17. Take a trip to a "paint your own" pottery shop. You can each create a masterpiece, have it fired and take it home.

18. Bring cookies or other treats to your local fire station. Firemen will love the sweets and your grandchildren will love seeing the fire trucks decorated with wreaths.

19. Do something your family has never done together before. Go to the races, plant a tree, go cycling, take a rowing class, go ice fishing. Anything new and different is worth a try! If you like it, make it an annual tradition.

20. Teach young family members to value and enjoy nature by putting together special holiday treat for the birds in your yard. A birdseed bell hung with a red bow will please the birds and decorate your yard as well.

Next: Don't let the cold deter you from a picnic or golfing. »

Family activities during the christmas season- a grandfather plays chess with his grandson


Invite an older neighbor over who can teach your grandchild something new.

21. Too snowy or cold to get out and see the local holiday light displays? Take an online light tour together. Search for local light displays or favorite landmarks. Try or to see some hilarious photos of decorations gone awry.

22. Can't manage a family golf outing this year? Everyone can golf their favorite courses virtually from home or at an indoor golf simulator.

23. Have an indoor picnic while the cold winds blow outside. Spread blankets on the floor and cook popcorn, hot dogs and marshmallows in the fireplace. You won't miss the ants!

24. Get the whole family involved in sending a care package to a soldier who is deployed overseas. Visit Operation Shoebox or Any Solider for ideas and information about how to participate.

25. Do you know which Christmas carol is represented by the phrase "The Quadruped with the Vermilion Proboscis"? Why it's "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" of course! Play the Carol Game with more of these riddles and see which family member can name the most carols! Creating cross-generational teams is a good way to encourage interaction.

26. Get family team bowling shirts made and take the whole group to a local bowling alley. Have a trophy for the team who wins and one for the family member with the lowest score.

27.  Have a Stealing Santa gift exchange — sometimes called a White Elephant, Yankee Swap or Dirty Santa. Everyone bring gifts, ranging from serious to silly, with an agreed upon price limit. You can find more details on how to stage this hilarious competition to get the "best" gift online.

28.  Set up a webcam during holiday meals and gift exchanges, so family members who can't be there can still participate from afar. If you can't make it work in real time, tape it and send it off. You'll also have a permanent documentary of your family's gathering.

29. Widen your family circle by reaching out to older neighbors who won't have family celebrations. You'll make new memories, bring joy to their lives and also teach younger family members about the spirit of the season.

30. Incorporate holiday traditions from around the world at You can learn how to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, research your own cultural traditions and learn about other countries.

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