12 Cool Activities to Do Before Christmas

Don't Wait to Start Celebrating the Holiday Season

If your holiday celebration with your grandchildren is limited to a single day or even two, you are missing out on a lot of fun. Don't wait until the actual holiday to start celebrating. Fill the weeks before Christmas with these Christmas activities, complete with suggestions for long-distance grandparents.

  • 01 of 12

    Give holiday storybooks.

    grandparent and grandchild share christmas book
    Share a favorite Christmas book with a grandchild. Photo © Kidstock | Getty

    Here's a gift that's better given before Christmas: holiday storybooks. My family's traditional favorites are Mr. Willoughby's Christmas Tree and Santa Mouse. Of course, you can't go wrong with a special edition of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.

    For long-distance grandparents, these books can be shipped directly to the grandchildren. A Hallmark Recordable Book is another option. Record the book before sending it off, or let the grandchild record it. A lasting record of...MORE those childish voices is a great gift for all.

  • 02 of 12

    Select a seasonal ornament.

    silhouetteornaments.jpg
    Silhouettes have timeless appeal. Photo © nestofposies.com

    Christmas ornaments are another gift that's better given before Christmas Day. Choose an ornament that displays the year, and you'll have a built-in record of Christmases past. Handmade ornaments are extra special, and the grandkids can even help make them.  If you're buying ornaments for long-distance sending, ornaments of wood or resin are the safest.

  • 03 of 12

    Send a special family photograph.

    Using photographs of grandchildren as bookmarks can ease the pain of long-distance grandparents.
    Using photographs of grandchildren as bookmarks can ease the pain of long-distance grandparents. Photo © iStockphoto

    Sharing vintage holiday photographs is another way to bring family members closer together. In Grandparenting at Long Distance, Selma Wassermann recommends that grandparents periodically send their grandchildren pictures chosen from the family archives. Of course, you won't want to part with your last copy of a photograph, but it's easy to scan a photo and print a copy. Grandchildren will especially like seeing photos of their own parents enjoying their childhood Christmases.

    You...MORE don't have to be a long-distance grandparent to use this hint. Grandchildren love getting things in the mail, even if they live only blocks away.

  • 04 of 12

    Make a gingerbread mansion.

    Making a gingerbread house with a grandchild is one of the joys of Christmas.
    Celebrate Christmas by making gingerbread houses with grandchildren. Photo © Thinkstock Images / Getty

    Making gingerbread houses with the grandkids is great fun, and it's really easy now that there are kits. If you're sending one to a grandchild who doesn't live nearby, I recommend the prebaked ones, as sending a kit that requires baking right before Christmas might send a stressed-out parent over the edge.

    If you'd like to create something more lasting, there are gingerbread house craft kits that use materials such as cardboard or clay. They are not as toothsome, but they are a...MORE bit more durable.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Snip out some snowflakes.

    Amaze the grandchildren by showing them how to make an six-sided snowflake.
    Amaze the grandchildren by showing them how to make an six-sided snowflake. Photo © S. Adcox

    Have you shared the fun of making snowflakes with your grandchildren? You can use this this printable paper pattern to make six-sided snowflakes. If your grandchildren live far away, send them a snowflake and a copy of the snowflake pattern. It's a good diversion for long winter days, even after Christmas, when a craft that's easy and yet kind of magical will be appreciated by all.

  • 06 of 12

    Send cozy Christmas pajamas.

    It's a shame to wait until Christmas to give children a gift of holiday pajamas. Give them early in the holiday season, and they will be able to enjoy them all winter. They will also be suitably garbed for those Christmas morning photographs. Footed pajamas are extra cozy. My oldest granddaughter loves them, even though she's well past the toddler stage.

    If your grandchildren aren't nearby, order the pajamas online and have them sent directly to the grandkids. That creates another...MORE pleasurable experience--the delivery of a package!

  • 07 of 12

    Involve the grandchildren in charitable giving.

    There's no time like the holiday season for a lesson about sharing with others. If your grandchildren live close to you, you can take them to pick out toys to donate to children in need. You may have noticed donation boxes in your area. If not, go to the Toys for Tots website and type in your location.

    If your grandchildren do not live close to you, make a donation in their names to a charitable organization. Heifer International provides families in developing countries with livestock,...MORE poultry and other items to improve their standard of living. Gifts start at $20, and you can print out a card or send an email to announce your gift to your grandchildren.

  • 08 of 12

    Help out our fine feathered friends.

    Christmas is also a wonderful time to remember the other creatures that share our planet. Your grandchildren will enjoy decorating a tree to serve as a feeding station for wild birds.

    If your grandchildren don't live nearby, the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shops have bird feeders and bird food items for shipping. The knowledgeable workers will be able to advise you about what type of feeders and food are appropriate for your grandchildren's location.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Cook up some cookies.

    Baking cookies with grandchildren is a truly time-honored tradition. Try one of these  traditional recipes, or create some gingerbread girls and boys.

    It's easy for long-distance grandparents to share the fun of cookie baking with their grandchildren. While you're in the kitchen mixing up your favorite recipes, mix an extra batch of the dry ingredients, package in an airtight bag, tuck in a copy of the recipe and send off for your family to complete the job. Of course, you could always...MORE bake an extra batch and send it to them, but then their house wouldn't be filled with the special aromas that say "Christmas."

  • 10 of 12

    Write a holiday poem.

    A poem written especially for someone is one of the best gifts for giving and getting. If you've had experience writing poetry, you won't need much help. If you're a novice, you can still write special poems for your grandchildren. What's even more fun is to write poems with your grandchildren. If poetry intimidates you, try this easy step-by-step guide to writing a poem for someone. First and foremost, have fun! If you're a long-distance grandparent, you can mail or email...MORE your poem to faraway family members.

  • 11 of 12

    Lift up your voices in song.

    It's fun to sing Christmas songs with the family, but sometimes suddenly each member of the family is on a different verse. That's why you need lyric sheets. Many websites feature printable lyrics for Christmas songs. I like the mix of traditional and contemporary songs at BlueBonkers. If you're a long-distance grandparent, gather everyone around the computer for a Skype singalong, or just pick up the phone and serenade your loved ones.

  • 12 of 12

    Use technology to share a book.

    Most grandparents' favorite way to read a book is curled up in a big armchair with a grandchild. For long-distance grandparents, that's not always possible, but there are other ways to share your love of reading. Thrifty grandparents can share a book over Skype. Another possibility is Readeo, a site that facilitates grandparents and grandchildren sharing books over the computer. Guests can share the book of the month for free or pay a fee for access to more books.