by Dr. Ken Canfield

How can you make the most of the time you have with your children and grandchildren this Christmas? I have a few suggestions, and I suspect they won’t be new ideas for you. So maybe these are friendly reminders from another grandparent.

The key words are SIMPLE and INFORMAL.

If everything is elaborate and fancy, the grandkids will probably feel like they have to stay still and be quiet. Sure, it’s good to include some of that. It’s definitely appropriate to gather the whole family for a few minutes to speak a blessing over them, talk about Christmas memories, maybe read the Scriptures and tell stories. Those are valuable opportunities to pass on nuggets that are part of your family heritage.

But I hope you’ll make those times the exception, not the rule. Especially with young grandkids, they need fun activities, time to unwind, maybe even whoop and holler some. It probably isn’t wise to ask them to sit a long time for a fancy dinner with your best dishes and tablecloth, especially if they know there are gifts to be opened in the next room.

If you have special traditions that are more formal and buttoned-up, that’s fine. Just try to make those times short. For the rest of the time, try to create an atmosphere where grandkids can relax and just have fun. The grandkids shouldn’t be your only focus, but one of your main goals should be to help them enjoy the holiday and experience the wonder of Christmas.

These can be great times of bonding for grandparents and grandkids.

Make sure to include them in your plans and activities. Find things that will be interesting to them, things they can relate to—and yes, things that will discourage them from going off somewhere with their phones or other devices. Play games or have other activities ready where everyone can get involved or use their gifts.

I don’t want to add hours of planning leading up to your Christmas. But with whatever time you do spend planning, I hope you’ll focus a lot of it on things that will bring that holiday sparkle to your grandkids’ eyes.

How do you make Christmas special for your grandkids? Share your insights and traditions with others at our Facebook page here.