Enjoy GRAND Magazine

for grandparents & those who love them

Posted on December 12, 2011 by Christine Crosby in 

Really Last Minute Tips: Having Happy Holidays with Grandchildren

Frazzled parents, too much excitement and lots of nonstop activities.  Sound like your family holiday get-togethers?  That’s when grandparents can come to the rescue! Quick tips to help keep things calm, memorable and fun for all.



Capture that Kodak moment and create family photos that will become instant keepsakes.

#1 tip: Keep it candid!

Skip the formal ‘group’ photos.  Is it really possible to get everyone looking at the camera, smiling and with everyone’s eyes open?

Instead, try this: Grab your digital camera and just snap away. This works really well, when photographing children. Take more, get more.  Since the photographs are digital, just delete the ones you don’t want to keep.

When children do not have to stand still and pose, I’ve gotten some outstanding pictures doing just that. Some really precious pictures of my grandchildren being themselves. I’ve printed a series of photos of my grands that I captured by just taking one photo after another as quickly as my camera shutter works, then deleting the ‘bad’ ones.   In addition, the interaction between adults and children isn’t interrupted by a formal photo session.  I have several of my 92-year old mother and her great grandson in the moment, in their own world.  Very special  photos.

#2 tip:  Ok, so you just have to have a group photo.

Take the picture long before nap time, so you at least have a chance of getting smiling, happy children.

Forget cheese.  Seriously.  A professional photographer I know confirmed what I have read. Saying ‘Happy Birthday’ just puts your subjects in a good mood and ends in a more natural smile.

In my family instead of saying ‘Happy Birthday’, one of my 3 year old grandson thinks this is his cue to start singing the song…which makes everyone chuckle and smile, so all are relaxed and the mood instantly becomes a great photographic moment.

Enjoy the family moments.  Just remember: The grandchildren are still children. Don’t expect them to behave like adults, just because it’s a special occasion.

So much excitement, so many adult expectations for a warm, wonderful holiday together.  Several late nights for adults and short or no naps for kids.  Too much going on and too many people.   Add in already stressed parents and this is a recipe for melt downs – for everyone!  When that happens, it’s time for grandparents to step in.

#1 tip: Distraction can calm down a little one.

…Change their focus quickly and easily. Read our ‘On the Go Games’ and storytelling on this website for no cost, anywhere anytime activities with your grands.  Click here: https://grandmagazine.com/news/2011/11/on-the-go-games/

#2 tip: Take the two of you out of the chaos.

….Find a place away from everyone else, cuddle up and read a book together.  Plan ahead and bring one of your children’s favorites, when they were young.

…Find a quiet corner for both of you, curl up with a favorite stuffed animal or blanket over your laps and feet.  Take some deep breaths together.  And just chill for a bit.

#3 tip: Too much energy?  Grands running around, making a lot of noise?

…Diffuse the situation and use up some of that excess energy.  Turn on some lively holiday or other music. Get up and move to the beat. March, dance or just wiggle!

Remove the frenzy of opening gifts.  Or, at least slow it down a bit.

When my husband’s twin sons were young, he started the ‘Christmas Hat’ tradition.  To help slow down the frenzy of opening lots and lots of presents from so many relatives, he made each person – we still do this! – wear a special hat in order to open their first present.  A photo of said hat atop the head of the gift recipient was, and still is, required.

In our family each year, the hat derives from some special event or travel during the preceding year or perhaps a hat just ‘too good’ (read funny and outrageous) not to use.  Over the 16+ years of our marriage , we have had hats from China, Spain and Africa; an Elmer Fudd hat; a hot dog hat that my son bought because he knew it was absurd; a reindeer hat and one that had blinking lights.  My own parents in their eighties used to laugh and pose proudly; my very conservative, reserved father relished his ‘moment’ and always laughed about it.  My mother, no matter how ridiculous the hat, always has the best photo.

Now, we have quite a collection of family wearing those ‘awful’ hats.  Hats that produced so many delightful photographs to remind us of our holidays together… long after my father’s passing and my own two children and my stepsons are well into their thirties.

Family get-togethers during the holidays are special.  With these tips, they can also be happy holidays that become treasured family memories for all ages.


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.

Only $ 6.95

A Special eBook for New and Expecting GRANDparents

My Grand Baby ebook cover