Enjoy GRAND Magazine

for grandparents & those who love them

Posted on November 26, 2011 by Christine Crosby in School Readiness

New Holiday Tradition For You and Your Grands

It’s a special time of year.  Want to do something different, yet special,  for the holidays this year?

The answer is a question: What’s one of the greatest life lessons you can share with your grandchildren?  Take advantage of the unique opportunity this holiday season offers.   It’s the perfect setting to teach your grandchildren: The Gift of Giving of Themselves.

When my children were young, they created Christmas and birthday presents for their grandparents.  Their gifts were handmade with some guidance from a loving adult and involved age-appropriate activities.  How about turning this around?

As grandparents, you can do something very special this year. Help your grandchildren create Christmas or Chanukah memories with a present they make themselves and give to their parents.  Show them the joy of making a personal gift for a loved one.  Help them understand that it’s not the price of the present that matters; rather, it’s the love and effort that goes into creating a special gift.  And that their present truly is one-of-a-kind!

There are wonderful possibilities for all age grands and all budgets…for the holidays now and birthdays throughout the year.  Remember to keep the gift-making at the child’s age and ability level.

And, please, please resist the urge to make it perfect!  The gift-making process really is more important than how ‘pretty’ the end product looks.  The finished product – perfect or not – will help build your grandchild’s self-image and confidence…and that is something you can’t buy.

Here’s a surprise! These activities also help develop a variety of school readiness skills for preschoolers, while enhancing current math, reading and language skills for elementary-aged children. For example, art helps children with pre-reading/reading and pre-writing/writing skills; baking or cooking with pre-math/math and pre-reading/reading. Planning the project or activity and collecting materials or ingredients involves reading instructions or recipes; sharing tasks; making lists; learning new vocabulary words; and communicating (language skills) about what each of you is doing.

Kick-off your gift-making plans with these ideas:

From the Kitchen

Children can help with almost any homemade gift from the kitchen – even as young as two years old – with your guidance.  Whether it’s helping to measure and pour or just decorating the gift tag, dry mixes you assemble for later cooking or baking are fun and inexpensive. Just add the recipe! Try soup, cookie, brownie and bread dry mixes layered in jars or present packages of the ingredients in a decorated basket or box.   There are recipes online for hot chocolate, specialty coffee or spiced tea drink mixes and even taco seasoning that can be layered in jars.

Spice rubs for cooks and BBQ kings are easy enough for little ones to help stir together and pour into a jar with a top they decorate, as my daughter and grandson did for last Father’s Day.  They also assembled a pizza kit for family and friends last Christmas, presenting the ingredients and tools in a pizza box purchased online or from a local restaurant supply store or pizza place. Note:  Keep the refrigerated ingredients in the fridge, put your present together and tie with a ribbon at the last minute.  Add a note to refrigerate certain items, when the gift is opened.

…pizza pan and pizza cutter

…ziploc-type bags of sauce and shredded cheese (refrigerate)

…pepperoni (refrigerate)

…recipe for homemade pizza crust

…dry ingredients (white/whole wheat flour, seasonings and yeast mixed together in  quart-sized ziploc-type bag)

We loved this gift concept and enjoyed dining on a homemade pizza. ‘GampBob’ likes cooking with the spice rub, too.  Go to these websites for help assembling your pizza kit and getting a basic pizza dough recipe, adding your own seasonings to the dry mix:



For a change, put together a chocolate pizza kit!


Love to bake? How about fresh, homemade muffins you and your grandchildren make and bake to enjoy with their parents as a special breakfast treat on Christmas, New Year’s Day or even for a parent’s birthday morning surprise.




Art from the Heart

Take some photos of your grandchild and frame in a cardboard frame (purchased or made) or plastic CD cases decorated by children with their drawings or by gluing on pieces of fabric, crumbled tissue paper, collages of magazine pictures, beads, feathers, etc.

Unfinished wooden frames can be painted and decorated any number of ways with wrapped string, small branches, small tiles and even old tee shirt pieces.



My then 2 ¾ year old grandson and I collected treasures from nature (smashed pine cones, twigs, acorns, small rocks, dried leaves) to glue onto an unfinished small wooden plaque that he had painted with tempura paints.  He added some designs to the back and ‘signed’ his name.  Then, I traced his hand, added the date, his name and two small screws and wire for picture hanging.  His mommy enjoys looking at the plaque every day, since she added it to an existing picture grouping on the wall.


Customized Gift Coupons

Don’t have a lot of time during the busy holiday season? Download do-it-yourself ‘gift’ coupons, then personalize and print for gifts to be enjoyed later.  Even your preschool grandchildren can help plan the menu and buy the ingredients; assist with some of the cooking; set and decorate the table, when they give their parents a ‘time off from cooking gift’ with a special breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Label it “Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner On Us!”

Older grandchildren can perform a number of tasks for their parents as a gift of the children’s time.  And the task can be done any time in the next several months.  Almost everyone I know could use help cleaning out the garage or basement; planting bulbs in the Spring; planning and planting a garden; and sorting years of family photos.  Children can use their own piggy bank to add some flower bulbs, seeds, garden gloves or a photo album or you can add these as your part of the gift.


Special Performance Gifts

Parents enjoy seeing their children perform, whether it’s a puppet show, a play they write or even a ‘concert’ on a musical instrument.  Grandparents can help oversee the practice sessions and print ‘programs’ that the grands can decorate.  Be sure to capture these special performances with photos and videos. Download free program templates here:


Creating from-the-heart, handmade presents this year with your grandchildren is a wonderful way to recapture the spirit of the season, while helping make gifts that their parents truly will treasure.  Make this one of your ‘new’ holiday traditions!

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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