11 Ideas for Creating Holiday Memories with Your Grandchildren

Hands decorating holiday cookies
Boyarko Nadya / Shutterstock

No matter what age your grandchild is, we’ve got nine ideas for making holiday memories together that may even turn into annual family traditions.

Give Back

‘Tis the season for being grateful for what you have, and giving to others who have less. Have your grandchildren help you clear out the cupboards and donate non-perishable items to the local food bank. Find a Salvation Army Angel Tree at a local retailer and shop for presents for a child in need. Pick an angel with the same age and gender of your grandchild so they can help pick the present. Contribute to your local Toys for Tots program to make a less fortunate child’s holiday more magical. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen together, or give to a favorite charity.

Bake Cookies

Make baking in the kitchen a holiday tradition. Use cookie cutters and frosting to turn gingerbread men and sugar cookies into decorated treats. Or, make a cherished family recipe together. 

Make Ornaments

While you’re baking, whip up a batch of salt dough ornaments together. Or, try making these snowman ornaments from Country Living. Glue pinecones and wine corks together to create Christmas trees. Make a mini tree out of pinecones and a floral foam cone. You could even craft presents for the whole family. If you’re super crafty, you and your grandchild could make a wreath!

Holiday Light Tour

Take a tour of the holiday lights at your local park or tour the neighborhoods in your area that are known for their elaborate outdoor displays. Bonus points for playing Christmas music in the car!

Read Christmas Stories

Read a classic story to get in the holiday spirit. Popular choices include The Night Before Christmas, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Polar Express, but O Magazine has many more suggestions.

Watch a Christmas Classic

TBS plays A Christmas Story for 24 hours straight every Christmas. A Charlie Brown Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street are great picks for smaller children, while older ones might appreciate It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, or even National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. There are several lists of the best Christmas movies of all time, including one from Town and Country Magazine, this one from Good Housekeeping, and an extensive list from Rotten Tomatoes. Many are streamable. Bonus points for making hot cocoa (with marshmallows!) or cider to sip in front of the TV.

See a Play

See what show your local theater is putting on for the holiday season and introduce your grandchild to classics like The Nutcracker or Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

Sing Christmas Carols

Practice singing Christmas carols with your grandchild, then bundle up and go caroling around the neighborhood. 

Advent Scavenger Hunt

For little ones, make a DIY advent calendar out of envelopes and a corkboard. Include clues that lead to small presents or candy hidden around the house. You can follow them around and tell them whether they are “hot” or “cold”.

Make a Family Newsletter 

Whichever one of you is more computer savvy can be in the driver’s seat for this one. Get together and note momentous occasions that have happened in the family over the past year to send out to extended family and family friends. 

Community Events

Some communities have train rides that get the holiday treatment. Take your young grandchild if you can stand all of the other kids who will be riding in the car with you. There’s also usually a breakfast with Santa somewhere around town. Man, that guy gets around! Check for local events like a parade, bazaar, or a live performance of holiday music to enjoy together.