Today’s families often live far away from grandparents. Having everyone home for the holiday season or just for the weekend is eagerly anticipated, but it can be stressful for the grandparents doing the entertaining.
When the whole family is gathering at your house for the holidays or weekend, do not panic. With a little planning, everyone will have fun and remember the visit warmly. Here are a few ideas for entertaining grandchildren, including teenagers, without incurring a great deal of extra expense.
1. Get ready in advance
Your children and grandchildren are coming to visit over the holidays or weekend. You want everyone to go home with lots of warm memories, right? Most grandparents do not have a lot of extra cash to spend on kid distractions, though. With some planning, your grandchildren will not surrender to the siren songs of television, movies, and computer games for their entire stay at your house.
Before they come borrow music, books, and games from the library, or from friends and neighbors. Planning ahead will keep boredom and bickering at bay. Your grandchildren will be delighted to ‘play’ with grandma and grandpa.
2. Dance, dance, dance
Turn on the music and dance, dance, dance. Push the furniture back and create a dance floor in the middle of the room. Mix it up. Play a little hip hop, the big band music of the 40’s, disco from the 70’s. Dance until everyone is out of breath and laughing.
3. Have some fun in the kitchen
Let the kids help bake cupcakes and decorate them. Make cookies from scratch or from a roll of store-bought cookie dough. Dig out the cookie cutters and let the kids make designer cookies. Their parents can deal with any sugar overdose later.
Let the brood prepare a lunch or dinner recipe with your supervision.Have them plan the menu and cook the meal. Kids like to eat things they have chosen and helped to prepare. You and the grandchildren cook; others clean up.
4. Enjoy reading together
Select a book and read it together. Borrow a few of the classics from your childhood they may have never heard about. Older children might be enthralled by Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell. Younger ones might be entertained by Stewart Little, by E.B. White. Reading to children encourages children to read.
5. Play board games
Dig out Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, Old Maid, Risk and the checker board. Teach an older child to play chess. Give your teenager a bridge, pinochle or cribbage lesson. Do not forget Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit. Check with the library and see if they have games to lend. Make paper airplanes and fly them all over the house.
6. Put on a play
Have the children write a script and put on a play. Pop some popcorn and enjoy the show. This will boost their creativity and entertain the whole family at the same time.
7. Build a fort
Take down some blankets and sheets from the linen closet. Tell the kids it is okay to use the cushions off the couch and build a fort under the dining room table. Give them a flashlight or two to use inside their hide-away. Be prepared for a lot of whispering and giggling.
8. Knead the dough
Make some uncooked playdough with two cups of plain flour, one cup of salt, one cup of water, one tablespoon of cooking oil and food coloring. Mix the flour salt and water in a bowl. Add the oil and mix well. Knead the dough until it is smooth. Break the playdough into balls and knead in the food coloring. Spread newspapers over the work area for easy cleanup.
9. Go on a scavenger hunt
Have a scavenger hunt with a theme. Instruct the kids to search for ten items that are red, or ten items that begin with the letter ‘S.’ Use your imagination.
10. Create a rice playground
Mix a cup of white rice with one teaspoon of rubbing alcohol and three or four drops of food coloring. Let the rice dry for about an hour on foil or waxed paper. Then spread it out in a sheet cake pan. Add spoons, matchbox cars, funnels, plastic measuring cups and anything else you stumble across that stirs the imagination.
When this visit is over, prepare for the next one. Designate a drawer or a storage container for craft supplies, new boxes of crayons, construction paper, glue, kid scissors and any other trinkets and inspirations you come across. Stash a few trinkets into the box to use as little prizes.
Your children and grandchildren will want to come back and visit often. Better still, when the grandchildren are adults they will remember and smile at all the good memories from holidays and weekends spent with grandma and grandpa.