Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of year, especially for coming together with those nearest and dearest to us. However, hosting Christmas can also be tricky, particularly for those more advanced in age. And when you throw little grandchildren into the mix, there are certainly one or two things to think about! In this guide, we have put together a selection of top tips for this very occasion, providing some helpful advice for grandparents who are hosting Christmas this year. From entertainment and safety to activities that can be enjoyed, these tips will help make hosting this festive season a true success.
Keep things relaxed
Christmas can, if you let it, be a stressful time of year, for both those hosting and the parents of children. So, it’s important to avoid this situation so both you and your guests can truly enjoy this special time together. Leanne of the midlife blog Cresting the Hill offers the following as her top tip for grandparents hosting Christmas:
“We live two hours from our children and grandchildren, so Christmas is always a time for a longer visit (usually a few days) and we love having that extended family time. My top tip would be to keep things relaxed. My adult children hate the expectations that come with trying to juggle multiple family events over the Christmas season, so they love it when we ‘go with the flow’ and fit meals around baby nap times and keep present giving to a manageable level (I always ask if a gift is acceptable before giving it – mums know what’s best for their children and I don’t want to step on toes!) Christmas isn’t a competition – it’s a lovely time to be together and you need to take the pressure off yourself to perform, and just enjoy being with your children and grandchildren.”
Echoing these sentiments, Sue from the blog Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond, offered us her top tip for grandparents, advising: “The Festive Season is about quality time with family and friends – let go of your idea of perfection and just create memories. Enjoy the day.”
In the vein of keeping things relaxed, Leanne from Cresting the Hill also advises that grandparents “don’t stress over the small details, just allow things to be fluid and to focus on enjoying time with the family. Give your attention to your grandchildren so your adult kids can have a rest from parenting, and don’t compare your Christmas with what you see on social media. Be grateful that your family wants to spend Christmas together and allow yourself to soak it all in without getting stressed over details that ultimately don’t matter.”
Delegate and prepare
Christmas can be overwhelming if you try and shoulder all responsibilities yourself, especially when it comes to kitchen duties. Being comfortable delegating certain tasks to family members is therefore important. This is the top piece of advice from Kathy of the helpful resource When They Get Older:
“I’m hosting Christmas this year, as I do every year. We will have three visitors who have flown in from Germany for a traditional Christmas lunch and need to stay two nights. We will also have four vegetarians, two vegans and seven carnivores, of whom one is seriously allergic to nuts and all fruit apart from raspberries, and one who can’t be in the same room as citrus fruit. My advice is hard-learned from experience!
“Anyone who’s hosted Christmas knows that you can end up spending the whole time in the kitchen and not really getting to talk to your guests at all. That’s especially true if they’re only there for lunch. So, I would advocate delegation of as many tasks as possible to family members and preparation of veg to the frozen food aisle, leaving you with time for more conversation.
“Families are increasingly made up of people with different dietary needs – the allergies, the intolerances, the lifestyle choices. So why not ask anyone who has issues with the main meal to bring a dish that they know they can happily eat?”
Spend time baking with the grandkids
Many of us have fond memories baking delicious Christmas treats with relatives and even more of us enjoy indulging in these festive snacks over the holiday. Spending time in the kitchen with your grandchildren is truly a great idea for a fun, festive activity. The children will love getting involved with the simpler tasks and with the promise of something yummy to enjoy at the end of it, there is even further incentive!
Lucy of the baking blog Pudding Lane spoke to us about her favourite Christmas treat that she recommends baking with grandchildren: “Gingerbread! It’s simple to make and great for kids – they can have fun kneading, rolling and then using different cutters to shape the biscuits. Gingerbread has a quick baking time, which is great for keeping kids interested, and then they also get to decorate them.”
Lucy also offered some top tips to help grandparents and grandchildren enjoy this time in the kitchen together: “I think it’s important to accept that it’s going to be messy. Prepare accordingly with tablecloths, aprons etc, and then you can let kids get involved in doing the weighing, mixing and shaping themselves, without worrying too much about the carnage!”
Make sure your home is safe for small children
If you are planning on having small children over for Christmas, it’s important that your home is safe for them. Now that your own children have left the nest, your house these days might not be particularly kid-friendly, sporting plenty of pointed edges and hard surfaces. While deciding to install a home lift will have already helped the problem of steep staircases, before the family arrive this Christmas, consider surveying the house to see if there are things you can do to make it a better environment for the little ones. Child-proofing steps could include:
- Moving valuable items from areas that they can reach
- Putting childproof locks on medicine cabinets
- Keeping matches locked away
- Putting guards in front of open fires and wood burners
- Using safety guards to block stairways
Decorate the tree with grandchildren
One of the most fun activities you can enjoy with the grandkids this Christmas is certainly decorating the Christmas tree together. While you might like to have this already taken care of or have carefully planned ideas for what the tree should look like, doing this with your grandchild is a great bonding exercise. There will surely be some fond, lasting memories for both of you if you spend an afternoon hanging ornaments and wrapping tinsel around the tree together. Put on some Christmas music in the background, have some chocolates close by, and just have fun with it. Doing this together could even become a tradition you both look forward to for many years to come.
Play games that all can enjoy
While you can provide plenty of games for the kids to enjoy while the adults of the family spend time together, there’s nothing better than activities that all can participate in at once. If your grandchildren are old enough, consider getting everyone together to play some board games like monopoly and scrabble. This way you can not only keep an eye on what the kids are doing but everyone will be together enjoying Christmas as one. If all members of the family are off doing their own thing, gathering for the holiday almost seems pointless! Ask the parents if the kids have any favourite board or card games and then have these items ready for some good, old fashioned, family fun.
Be open to new traditions
We all have our beloved Christmas traditions, and while you might be looking forward to teaching these to your grandkids, be mindful that they very likely will have some of their own traditions. Their parents will likely have started doing Christmas slightly differently so be open to incorporating some of their wants and desires into your own. Perhaps they would like to open presents in the morning rather than after lunch or go for a walk together before supper. Share your own traditions, of course, but be cognisant about what others might be looking forward to doing, especially if it keeps the little ones happy!
Traditions at Christmas also often involve what we eat for dinner. Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond poses the question of if we really need to stick with traditions. She suggests that creating something simpler than your usual traditions might be a good approach: “Plan a stress-free menu so you aren’t stuck in the kitchen all day. Choose a menu that has some components which can be prepared in advance to save you time on the day.”
Have some Xmas films ready
Sometimes, it’s nice just to sit back and be a bit lazy. Christmas time is the perfect opportunity for this, and nothing is more relaxing than putting on a classic Christmas film. So, make sure that you have some favourites on hand, either by picking up some DVDs/Blu-rays or perhaps renting on Amazon. As with the board games, ask the parents if your grandchildren have any favourites but you could also try introducing them to some classics they haven’t seen before. There will be plenty of options on TV but if there are specifics that you know the family will want to watch, get these ready beforehand so you can just pop one on.
How to host Christmas as a grandparent
- Keep things relaxed
- Delegate and prepare
- Spend time baking with the grandkids
- Make sure your home is safe for small children
- Decorate the tree with grandchildren
- Play games that all can enjoy
- Be open to new traditions
- Have some Xmas films ready
We hope the above tips and advice have been helpful. Christmas is a joyous occasion and by utilising some of the pointers expressed in this guide you can avoid needless stress while also making a Christmas that the whole family will look back on with fondness.