Christmas Traditions with Grandkids

As someone who has overcomplicated holiday traditions in the past, I want to be mindful when establishing new traditions with my grandson.
diane morrow kondos and callister in front of christmas tree. for christmas traditions with grandkids

What Christmas Traditions do you share with your grandkids?

My niece recently posed a Facebook question: “Should I start Elf on the Shelf for my two preschoolers?”  Although my children were thankfully of the pre-elf era, I felt compelled to warn her, “Be careful, be very careful what you start because traditions die hard. Make sure it’s something you can live with for fifteen more years!” My caution came from my own mistake of creating traditions that were too involved and lingered way too long for my stamina. On my first Christmas as a grandparent I’m finding myself itching to establish new grandparent-grandchild Christmas traditions, but I also know I should be selective and choose activities we will all enjoy and where the benefit is at least equal to the financial and energy expenditure.

My first caveat is to remember the parents are the ultimate rule setters, and everything needs to be cleared with them. It’s essential to respect boundaries, be sensitive and not steal an experience your grandchildren’s parents want as their own. Today, Callister and I were walking around Utica Square enjoying the holiday lights and displays when I noticed there was no line at the Santa House. It took all my powers of restraint to not take him for just a quick visit to Santa, but common sense prevailed; the first Santa visit should be the parent’s right. The Tulsa Christmas Parade is on Saturday, December 9th at 2 p.m. in downtown Tulsa, and we’re looking forward to the parade being our first official holiday tradition with our (almost) six month old grandson.

Our family will continue with the many traditions we’ve had for years: a get-together to decorate the tree, sing Christmas carols and drink hot chocolate, a trip to Rhema to look at Christmas lights, a cookie-decorating contest, matching Christmas Eve pajamas and Christmas dinner at India Palace. I love getting together with the entire family, but it would be great to have special holiday traditions just for the grandkids. Since I am new to this grandparenting gig I decided to consult with some friends that are more seasoned grandparents to get some ideas for traditions with grandchildren. Here are a few of their ideas-

Gingerbread houses

Making gingerbread houses with grandchildren appears to be a popular activity. There are kits that provide the basics or be creative and construct your own from scratch. Three is a good age to begin this as long as you have no expectations of perfection or a clean kitchen afterwards.

Nutcracker Ballet

Tulsa is fortunate to have a wonderful ballet company, and the annual production of the Nutcracker is magical for grandkids and grandparents alike. One grandparent I spoke with also bought her two grandchildren a nutcracker each year as a reminder of their special day.

Jingle Bell Run

Several of my running friends have involved their grandchildren in running 5ks with them and make the Jingle Bell Run in downtown Tulsa an annual event. This is a great way to celebrate the holidays and set an example of fitness at the same time. My only issue with this is those little speedy ones often beat me across the finish line!

Holiday sleepover

Order pizza, watch Christmas movies and bake and decorate cookies. What a fun night for grandparents and grandkids! It costs very little and as a bonus, giving your grandchildren’s parents a kid free evening will earn you brownie points!

Arvest Winterfest

Arvest Winterfest, located right outside the BOK center in downtown Tulsa, has become a relatively new tradition for one of my friends and her older grandkids. It’s a chance to ice skate outdoors and see Oklahoma’s tallest Christmas tree!


Start a new tradition of giving by selecting an Angel from the Angel Tree at Woodland Hills or Promenade Mall. It’s never too early to instill the desire to help others and leave a legacy of compassion and caring for your grandchildren. Tulsa has plenty of opportunities to share your time, services and/or money.

I loved hearing about the various traditions my friends have established with their grandkids and hope to adopt some of them in future years. Tulsa has so many fantastic events available for families during the holiday season. Whatever you choose to do with your grandkids this year, whether it’s a simple afternoon of baking cookies or a fancy night at the ballet, cherish the time you spend creating beautiful holiday memories!

Categories: Grand Life