Previously published on My Grandma's Place May 13, 2017
“Guess what, Nan? We’re coming to stay at your place..It’s so exciting !”
“I know, I know. I can hardly wait.”
Following hard on the heels of the pleasure and excitement I felt at my granddaughter’s words was the thought, ‘How am I going to make this visit special?’ ‘What can I do that will create lasting memories?’
(Yep… affiliate links are included which means that, at no additional cost to you, if you buy through me I get some coffee money …though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
If, like me, you’ve gone with the whole down-sizing your home you might not have too much space for full-on, energetic kids. Don’t panic! Regardless of the size of your home, or whether it sits on acres of land or has a postage-sized patio, you can still plan non-stop adventures and fun for your pint-sized visitors.
Choose any of the suggestions below to create a shared time with your grandkids that everyone will long remember. Simple activities shared together can become real ‘moments that matter’ in the memories of your grandkids.
When do your grandkids plan to arrive?
Are they going to stay for just one night or more?
Will they arrive morning or afternoon?
No matter how long they plan to stay, you'll find plenty of fun ideas to keep them busy and happy.
So, let's begin with some morning activities.
After dinner fun
The fun doesn’t have to stop just because it’s getting dark and almost time for bed. Check out these ideas:
Where are they going to sleep?
If you have a spare bedroom with sufficient beds, that’s great. If not, inflatable mattresses on the floor can be lots of fun. Add plenty of soft pillows and covers.
A small tent is another option and you can position it inside or on your patio or decking. I’ve found that most kids creep back inside after about an hour of outdoor camping so be prepared.
Don’t feel that you have to attempt everything on the list. Choose those suggestions that appeal to you or your grandkids.
Although these are simple ideas that don’t take too much preparation or planning, you’ll find that they are ‘moments that matter.’ Your grandkids will talk about this time with you often and with enjoyment. And I hope you’ll enjoy their visit, too.
Oh.. and don't forget to take photos!
A free checklist is available to download below…
Your checklist to preparing a wonderful sleepover. Just click on the image to download,.
DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend or link to. If you purchase those items through my links I will earn a commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. In fact, ofttimes, I'm able to negotiate a lower rate (or bonuses) not available elsewhere.
Plus, when you order through my links, it helps me to continue to offer you lots of free stuff.
Thank you, in advance, for your support.
This article was first posted earlier: 30/10/2014
The first thing my grandsons do once they leap from the car is check the letterbox; although these days, there's very little to be found there other than advertising leaflets. But there's something exciting about opening the letterbox and peeking inside that never seems to dim.
Snail mail for kids
Regardless of age, finding something in the letterbox personally addressed is a wonderful way to connect with your grandchildren and build memories. Yes, email is faster with little expense, but snail mail has its own appeal.
Continuing a tradition
My father used to send regular notes and cards to my children when they were young and they would dance around with excitement.
He'd often add little pen-drawn illustrations on the envelopes and include cryptic addressee titles along with the formal address. We'd frequently find missives addressed to 'The Moby Dick fisherman' (after my son caught his first fish) or perhaps 'Australia's best chef' (my daughter had baked a cake), and other interesting titles.
The letters created plenty of comment and discussion with our postman. too.
Create your own snail mail fun with your kids or grandkids.
So now, as a grandma, I try to send my own whimsical notes and letters to my grandchildren.
When I visit with them, they often drag out the old letters or cards I've sent them and ask me to read the inside messages to them again. They really do treasure those simple letters I post to them.
Sometimes, I try to slip some stickers inside the envelope as an extra highlight. The letters are more highly anticipated than ever by my oldest grand-daughter since she's taken up philately. You can find plenty of resources for kids for stamp collecting. You can even create and order your own stamps. How much fun would that create for your grandkids to find their own photo on the stamp?
Even if you don't want to go to those lengths you can decorate the envelopes a bit.
I try and use the most beautiful stamps when I post cards to Rachael. And stationery packs for kids usually include some wonderful envelopes.. like the ones listed below. You can find them on the AtGrandma'sPlace online store.
Get your copy of these exciting stationery packs for kids
Each kit contains 3 different styles of stationery: a page for those kids who cannot write sentences yet. They can draw something special and then write their name at the bottom; there is a page designed with a small number of lines for kids who are learning to write but might be overwhelmed by a lot of lines to complete; and there is a full page of lines for writing but still some fun characters on the stationery page.
There are some fun cards. There are some monster lined envelopes. And there are some Monster Mail Munchers that can be slipped onto the top or corner of a page of stationery or even a book as a bookmark. The kits can be downloaded or ordered as a complete kit that comes in a plastic kit with some additional fun items- stickers and pencils.
So... what do you need to create exciting letters that will keep your grandkids eagerly watching for mail?
* fun cards and stationery.You can buy some or download and print your own. Check out more examples here.
* Try embellishing the envelopes with quirky designs or images or use stickers. They can be quite simple and your grandchildren will still love them.
* Some stickers are also great to include in your letters or vouchers that your grandkids would enjoy using.
* Be creative in how you write your messages. It doesn't have to be a long note but make it relevant. Send a card when you know they've had a rough week or been sick. Send a funny card when they've done something special or perhaps they're worried about something at school. They will love knowing that you've been thinking of them.
BONUS... make your own letterbox.
Download the template from TinyMe. Print and send the pieces to your grandkids or set it up ready for their next visit!
Download, print and create your own mailbox. Set it up ready for their them and watch their reactions.
Pop some letters in the letterbox for them to find when they arrive. And, you could prepare some stationery for them to use and then post in the letterbox for themselves. You'll also find full instructions for creating this set at TinyMe.
Enjoy yourself with these great resources and build some memories with your grandkids.
Counting down to Christmas is always so much fun.. especially for kids. And an Advent Calendar really helps to make that lead-up time to Christmas more tangible, more comprehensible. It also means that you don't have to answer the ongoing question, "How long until Christmas? When can we unwrap all the presents?"
Why use an Advent calendar?
Sure, an advent calendar looks great as part of your festive decorations as you gradually add, day by day, to the finished calendar. It can add to the Christmas fun. It can be used to keep the focus of Christmas on the birth of the Saviour. And, depending on your choice of calendar, it can help your kids focus on the joy of giving and serving others, too.
What do I need to consider when choosing an advent calendar?
Well, there are plenty of commercially prepared advent calendars. Some would make lovely gift ideas for friends or family. Some commercially prepared advent calendars present small gifts for each day leading up to Christmas. Some are simple thin boxes with perforated windows with a hidden recess for a small chocolate for each day leading up to Christmas. Others are books with windows or flaps to reveal something of the nativity story as Christmas approaches.
Create a family tradition- your own advent calendar
An advent calendar is even more meaningful if you can make it yourself and personalise it as a family legacy. The treats and activities created for and added to your advent calendar can revolve around the interests, activities and favourite choices of your family.
And you can create variations for each year.
So, here are a number of such suggestions listed below that you might like to consider.
The Dainty Bauble Advent Calendar (find the link for this advent calendar below) is easy to print and create. Use the back of the decoration to either: a. write a Scripture verse on the reverse b.include a fun activity c. provide instructions or clues to find a hidden treat or d. include all ideas.
You might decide to just attach a small wrapped chocolate or treat to the reverse of the decoration. Or you may keep it simple and glue a second copy of the decoration to the reverse for extra strength and durability.
However you decide to personalise it, this advent calendar combines the elegance of the past with the energy and minimalism of the future. It's sure to become a family treasure.
What you'll need:
*Download and print the files for the 25 decorations. (Print onto a good quality card. You might also want to consider a good parchment or linen textured card.)
*silver cording for the hanger and perhaps paper clips.
* double-sided tape and normal tape.
*small Christmas tree that will look attractive on the table or side table.
1. Download, print and cut out each of the 25 advent calendar decorations. Use a good quality card and it looks even better if it has a light texture. Print and cut out a second copy if you intend to back each decoration with its twin. It means that it looks great even if the wind blows the decoration to reveal the back. Leave the back blank if you intend writing something on the back or attaching a small treat.
2. Cut a hole in each tab and thread a small piece of silver cord through the hole as the hanger.
3. If you prefer to have a hanger that's a big more substantial (especially if your kids will be hanging the decorations) you might like to use a paper clip for each decoration. Just tape the paper clip on the back with the loop just visible above the rim of the decoration.
Use a second copy of the decoration and attach on the back to cover the taped paper clip. I used double-sided tape. it's just a bit neater. Sometimes glue can cause the card to slightly buckle. Now slip a piece of thin cord through the loop of the paper clip as the hanger.
4. You don't have to add anything else but if you want, you can write a Scripture verse on the back or a clue to where to find the day's treat. You can also decide on a fun activity for each day: sing your favourite Christmas carol, go out for ice-cream, decorate a gingerbread cottage.. If you don't want to add that info on the back of the decoration, just use slips of paper with the activity or treat written on each piece. Pop all of the papers into a small bucket or container. Your kids can reach in and choose one each day to read and complete.
5. Set up your small tabletop Christmas tree and start adding one decoration each day leading up to Christmas Day. I found an inexpensive tree at Kmart for about $10. There was a lovely natural-looking bare tree at another store but it was expensive. I think you could make something similar with a good sized branch set into a pot of plaster of Paris.
So.. that's about it.... pretty simple... and you can check out the summary slideshow below.
Oh... and you can find a FREE pair of Christmas decorations to download and print for your own Christmas tree. Normally, these vintage-inspired decorations would cost $4.95 but they're free for you to download, print and use. See below.
Here are some more ideas that you might like to consider.
FocusontheFamily has produced a free advent calendar, O Holy Night, plus instructions for an advent wreath.
Download and print the calendar. Then highlight each day leading up to Christmas with a character from the nativity story plus a Scripture reading and devotion. Beginning December 3, your advent calendar builds a nativity scene with the daily characters from the advent calendar.
You'll also find a suggestion for creating an advent wreath to remind your family of God's never-ending faithfulness.
Find it here...
Share the love advent calendar: this resource from iMom focuses on building a legacy of giving with your family.
Each day you'll find sweet and selfless ideas to help your kids experience real Christmas joy through the spirit of giving.
Find it here..
This Christmas countdown is also a puzzle and provides a daily treat and activity idea.
Download the printable calendar. Then use the instructions to create an advent calendar that must be assembled day-by-day to reveal a beautiful Christmas decor piece. On the back of each card, you'll hide a treat and an activity.
Find it here...
This advent pack includes 5 weeks of family devotions that focus on a different carol each week.
There are 5 colouring pages that combine to tell the story of Jesus' birth and the advent calendar with fun family activities.
Instructions for creating and illustrated advent wreath with paper candles complete the fun family advent pack.
Find it here...
Help your family discover the Light of Christmas in a new way!
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ...
though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
Every year, Christmas seems to arrive in the stores earlier than you expect. Beautiful Christmas displays appear mid-October, Christmas gift ideas fill store catalogues, and glittering ornaments are hung in the specially created Christmas-theme areas.
And that's fine... although I never seem ready for Christmas despite the early reminders and displays. But the Christmas proclaimed in the department stores and shopping centres is not the Christmas that's important to me. And it's not the legacy of Christmas that, by and large, I want for my family. It doesn't reflect the humble stable of the Saviour's birth or the gift of that first Christmas.
The store-bought Christmas is filled with music and joy and fun and feasting and unwrapping endless gifts. I want to help my family unwrap the real joy of Christmas. And I believe that families, like mine, can hear the Christmas story in a new way using creative family-focused devotions.
So I looked at just five such devotional resources and you can check them out, too, below:
So.. first up..
1. All the Colours of Christmas Advent Calendar
Focus on th Family has produced a beautiful Advent colouring and devotional book. It will help you focus on the anticipation, preparation and celebration of Jesus' birth.
The ongoing enthusiasm for colouring by all ages means the your whole family can be involved.
You'll find beautifully detailed colouring pages with peel-and-stick ornaments, 28 days of faith-filled activities, Scripture readings and an Advent calendar Christmas tree. (You can find a free Advent calendar, too.)
All the Colours of Christmas Advent Calendar.
2. All is Bright: A Devotional Journey to Colour your Way to Christmas
Yes... this is another colouring devotional for Christmas. This publication is by Nancy Guthrie. It includes bonus activities, discussion starters, and kid-friendly colouring pages- Christmas ornaments and decorations.
All Is Bright: A Devotional Journey to Color Your Way to Christmas
3. Made by Me Nativity
This kit starts by making a great nativity keepsake set. It's included in the kit. But there's so much more...
There are gifts to make and give to friends, family and neighbours. Other faith-building activity suggestions are included: field trips, a Christmas movie makeover and other fun!
And yes, there's more...
Simple kitchen-based mission ideas (cookies, nut baskets, Christmas morning mix) will get your kids up and serving others and discovering Jesus.
Made by Me Nativity
4. Christmas Movie Night Kit for Families
Host a kid-friendly Christmas family night with the Christmas Movie Night Kit.
You'll find a read aloud picture book, activities, puzzles and games. The animated Story of Christmas dvd includes sing-along videos of Christmas carols and behind-the-scenes production footage.
Celebrate the real meaning of Christmas with this creative Christmas kit.
Christmas Movie Night Kit for Families
5. Advent Journey Colouring Posters
The birth of the Saviour on that first Christmas was news that was shared. This is a big part of the Advent Journey Colouring Posters, too, sharing the Christmas story with friends, family and the community through colouring.
The posters are big.. supersize. Four of the posters measure 3' x 2' and the other two are even bigger- 6' x 2'. So they are wonderful to colour together in groups. It also offers plenty of opportunities to talk and share together while colouring.
Using these posters requires some out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to using them. Sure, you can use them for children's ministry groups or teen groups. You can take them to nursing homes to colour in together. Use them following your Sunday services for your church family to colour and enjoy while having morning tea. Schools may wish to use them. Your family might invite friends over for a colouring evening. There is also an accompanying Advent Journey Devotional Guide. So start thinking now... how will you use these wonderful resources for sharing the Christmas story?
Oh.. and the finished posters make beautiful display posters, perfect decorations for large walls, hallways and even stage areas.
Advent Journey Colouring Posters
Take time to explore the real meaning of Christmas with your family with these creative resources. Explore the events surrounding the first Christmas and learn how this season can bring us hope, love, joy and peace.
Disclosure: At Grandma's Place is committed to high standards of integrity and quality. I do not promote any brand I do not believe meets these standards, and I only promote brands I would purchase myself. If I don't love it, and don't think you'll love it, it won't appear on my blog.
What do you think of when I say sunny day? Fun at the beach, hot dogs on the barbecue, candy floss at the fairground, really, the list is endless.
But when I say rainy day we think of staying indoors and watching the raindrops drizzle down the window pane. The weather is something we can’t ever prevent, so let’s change our beliefs and make the most of it!
No more feeling sad and cranky over some summer showers, because here is a list of uplifting things to do with the family, which will change your dreaded rainy days into something which you will treasure forever.
Image from Pexels
Who said camping was only for the summer? Get your rain boots on, grab the tent from the garage and peg it up in the backyard!
This is something which the whole family can help with and have a laugh while doing so. Enjoy some family time under the tarpaulin and play some fun board games such as, Operation and Articulate!
The kids will love the sounds of the rain pattering on the tent and their cosy den in the tent. They will snuggle with their teddies and love to spend quality time with the family. By doing this, everyone is getting away from the sanction of technology and enjoying the beauty of nature.
If night is approaching get supplies from the house such as torches, blankets, drinks and tasty treats for the kids! If you’re lucky enough and the rain has cleared away, do some stargazing and make the little ones laugh by giving all of the stars a funny name.
Camping is marvelous for the soul and an opportunity to cherish the wonders of the outdoors.
Keep calm and bake on
Image via Pixabay
Vanilla shortbread, chocolate brownies, raisin cookies, cornflake cakes, whatever their heart desires! Get making and baking it! Use a rainy day as an excuse for having a huge family bake time. If you’re stuck on ideas, have a look online for wacky and unique ideas and easy recipe guides such as, Bakers’ Corner.
Fill your house with delicious smells and enjoy eating your sweet delights to a classic, family film.
On a more serious note, if you are experiencing heavy rain, this can bring risks to flooding. This means having to turn off your electricity and gas supplies and to postpone that baking session for another time. To be aware of any flood warning in your area, download weather apps such as, The Weather Channel to get all the latest updates.
Inevitably, water can bring havoc to your house and can be a nightmare if you’re not prepared. If your house has taken some harm from flooding, a water damage restoration service will make your life a whole lot easier. By using services like these straight away, you can avoid any more potential damage to your house and get the problem fixed effectively.
Everyone gather round, it’s family reading time
What’s better than sitting with the ones you love by a cosy, snuggly fireplace with a good children’s book?
Reading with the little ones is something you will miss when they grow up, so make the most of those rainy days! Don’t feel ashamed in having a PJ day, cuddle up on the couch (or that new fluffy rug) and enjoy a fun, educational read with the children. From Enid Blyton’s Famous Five adventures to The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, stock up on those picture books and stories, so you’re ready and looking forward to a rainy day.
Go on a rainy adventure
Either while it’s still raining or when it’s finally calmed down, take the kids on an adventure of puddle splashing, worm hunting, and plant finding. The little ones will love to explore the outdoors, especially in the rain.
You could even take a little checklist of things they need to find. Just don’t dress them in their best clothes, as they will get very muddy! If the sun has come out, you could even play a game of ‘spot the rainbow’.
There is always that smell of wet, summer grass after a downfall, the sounds of the birds chirping and water dropping from the trees. The kids will love the adventure and to expose all of their senses to nature. It is times like these that you, your partner and your kids will keep memories of, forever and ever.
Fill a scrapbook with family memories
Image from Flickr
There are hundreds of indoor activities which the kids will love to do and a vast amount of blogs like Surrey Mama which are dedicated to giving you fantastic ideas. One of these activities is making a family scrapbook!
Everybody loves a bit of art and crafts, so this is something which both the adults and the kids will enjoy doing. Gather all the art supplies you can find in the house; glitter, crayons, paint, foam, stickers, you name it.
Find an empty scrapbook or create your own with colored paper and start having fun! Make a space on the dining room table for the kids to sit and relax, then let their creative minds flow (expect a lot of mess!). You could even find some family photos and make a collage. Kids love to see family faces and to be reminded of things. Just mind them with the scissors and glue!
Make plans for the future
Image via Pexels
This final one is mainly for the parents. Use the time to relax and collect all of your thoughts together. It’s easy to drain all your energy in the summer and to cram too much into your schedule. A rainy day gives you the opportunity to update your diary and make preparations for the future. From plans to getting your haircut to thinking about the next family holiday, use the time practically.
If these rainy day suggestions don’t suffice, check out some pages on Facebook such as Rainy Day Mum to give you more ideas. Hopefully, your rainy day will turn into a bright one by making the most of it and spending time with the family.
Seriously.... it helps a lot with the growth of this blog.
I know most people don't share because they feel that we bloggers don't need their 'tiny' share. But believe me... you matter! Each and every reader is important and appreciated.
I've built this blog piece by piece, one small share at a time. So thank you so much for your support.
'Motherhood is a choice you make every day; to put someone else's happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ...
though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
Mother's Day.. it comes around regularly, each year. (Hey, am I the only one who struggles to remember whether it's the first or second Sunday, each May?) But, we still confront the same question: 'What can I give Mum that I know she'll appreciate, something that will truly express how much she means to us?'
And sure, slippers or a fragrant, organic soap are wonderful options. But, if you're like me, you want something that will touch her heart. And, well... we're talking about 'mothers' here.. so surely, that means 'family'. So, I'm planning to give my Mum a gift of family.
Here's my idea.. and it's easy!
I'm creating a family collage, a picture of our family that will serve as a daily reminder of our love and a wonderful memory. And then, I'm going to add our family collage to one of the special photo projects available online.
Yes, a printed mug is a great idea. Every time your mother makes herself a cup of coffee, she'll think of you and your family. But that's not your only option.
Simple ways to present a family collage
Online photo project designs like EzPrints, TinyPrints, orMixBooks provide plenty of gift ideas for something truly memorable. Just upload your photo collage, choose how you want it presented, order it and sit back and await delivery.
If your mothers lives farther afield, you can even organise delivery to wherever she lives... easy!
So many choices
Personalised notepads & journals, wall art framed or printed on metal or canvas, wall tapestries, calendars, keepsake boxes, floor mats, clocks, towels, pillows and even blankets - just some of the gifts that can be printed with your family collage
How can you do it?
Using Canva, an online design program, I was able to quickly and easily create a family collage. I've included instructions below but honestly, it's very straight forward. Check out the three beautiful layout designs above I made as my family collage, each created in just minutes.
If you're creating this gift yourself, it means you can include a sweet picture of each member of your family in this special gift.
And once you've designed your collage you can use it in so many ways.
Here's how to create your family collage, ready to use for your special Mother's Day gift.
Watch this simple slideshow below to see how simple it is to create your own collage.
The wonderful thing about Canva, is that you can create something beautiful without having any real design skills of your own. Anyone can do it!
And it's FREE.
I think, once you start using it, you'll find yourself creating even more wonderful photo designs for you and your friends and family- thank you cards or invitations, newsletters, resumes, Facebook posts presentations and more.
I hope you'll enjoy this simple online design tool.. and I hope your mother enjoys your wonderful family gift. ?
DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend or link to. If you purchase those items through my links I will earn a commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. In fact, I ofttimes am able to negotiate a lower rate (or bonuses) not available elsewhere.
Plus, when you order though my links, it helps me to continue to offer you lots of free stuff.
Thank you, in advance, for your support.
Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.