There are only a pocket-full of days til the man with the big red bag catapults himself down your chimney. Thus it's crunch time in the present department.
Your kids make you lists of things they're coveting, your teenaged neice just wants a gift card, and your husband, well we all know what HE wants.
But how do you get the kids involved in the giving too? The grandparents are a great place to start.
Here are five fun and easy ways to say "Merry Christmas" translated "we LOVE you", to the matriarchs and patriarchs of your clan.
1. Say It With Snapshots. This year my dad asked for something I thought was just great. A custom collection of snapshots from the boys' lives. We take tons of digital pictures and they are all housed on our computer, but we rarely get them printed and put into albums. My dad just wanted pictures he could hold. So, one day he went through the hoards of photos on our computer and made a file of his favorites. (If your parents live far away, you could select a slew for them yourself.) He asked that we simply order them for him and make that his gift. We've decided to create an album for him, and put a couple really great ones into nice frames. You could also use their collection for one of the great photo books you can now create on-line. Check out Snapfish, Shutterfly and Blurb. It's so darn simple, but taking the time to put together a compilation of moments from your kids' lives is really a thoughtful and meaningful gift.
2. Use Your Words. Wordle is a site that will let you create fun and beautiful "word clouds" to represent each grandparent. It's super simple and FREE. Just go to the Wordle site and have your kids write or dictate things they love about their grandparents or memories they have of fun times together. Place all of the words into the wordle form on-line and it will create a really fun and beautiful word cloud. All you have to do is print, and pop it into a frame. Wordles are sweet and their sentimentality will make the grandparents gush.
3. Make a new Pen Pal. If the grandparents live far away have your kids help to create a pen pal kit for them. Find a lovely box to house the goods, buy or make some pretty note cards or print your kids' pictures on postcard paper (found at any office supply store), pop in a beautiful pen and some stamps, and you're set. You could make one for your children too as a surprise on Christmas morning as an incentive to write to their Grandmas and Grandpas over the coming year. The thoughtfully written letter or card is a dinosaur worth resurrecting.
4. A Grand-Parental Play Date. Present each grandparent with a certificate for a pre-paid play date with their grandkids. Your child gets to pick what sort of outing they'd like to have with each grandparent. These can be simply made with construction paper or printed on the computer. It might be lunch and a manicure with Grandma, bowling and (root) beers with pappy, or dinner and a movie with Nanna. You treat for the outing, and they get priceless time together.
5. If You Build It, They Will Come. Here's another one for the grandparents who live close by. Simply pick up several "build-it-yourself kits" for things like birdhouses, model cars or airplanes, or any other make-it yourself masterpieces. Place them all in a special box with an invitation from your kids to help them build each thing. Grandparents seem to LOVE showing their grandkids how to do stuff...have you noticed? Give them the opportunity over the next year to spend time working on these projects together. Your kids will have one-on-one time with their Grammies and Pappies, and the elders will treasure the uninterrupted time with their kid's kids.
Meredith Sinclair is a freelance writer and blogger living with three quirky guys on Chicago's North Shore.
See more of Meredith's stories here.