Christmas is a very special time to celebrate with our loved ones. It’s a time to experience the joy of giving, and to spend quality time together. Christmas also offers a wonderful opportunity to make our parents and grandparents feel loved and honoured.
We’ve put together a list of ideas for gifts, celebrations and experiences that you can use to create lasting memories with your family this holiday season.
- Gift ideas
- Getting them involved
- Experiences to share
- Long distance or online celebration ideas
- Ideas for parents in assisted living
- Covid-safe celebrations
Thoughtful gift ideas for parents & grandparents
Here are some gift ideas for your parents & grandparents this holiday season:
- Photo album or scrapbook: Make an album or scrapbook that contains photos and images from the year, personalised with stories and notes throughout.
- Happiness Jars: Put a collection of ‘chore’ or ‘experience’ coupons in a jar for grandparents to pick out. Coupons may include: “Watch a movie with Nana”, “Help Nana bake a cake”, “Draw Nana a picture” and “Help Nana with 3x chores of her choice”.
- Personalised treats: Gift your loved ones with festive treats such as chocolates, candy or eggnog.
- Scented candles or lotions: Consider choosing a ‘Christmas-themed’ scent such as gingerbread or cinnamon.
- Bake a Christmas treat: Cookies, cupcakes and other delicious treats can be personalised and decorated for that extra bit of Christmas cheer.
- Homemade Hamper: Fill a hamper with all of your loved one’s favourite things such as biscuits, wine, tea, hand cream, perfume, or even gardening seeds.
- Stationery: You can buy stationery in their favourite colour, or personalise it as an extra special gift.
- Make a family tree: There are many online services for making your family tree. This can be a beautiful gesture to an older family member, and a great way of honouring your family history.
- Tell their story: If your family member has a colourful history, you can organise to have it written down by a professional biographer.
- Video montage or digital photo album: Put together a collection of your favourite family photos and memories.
- Digitise photos & VHS: By digitising photos and saving old VHS tapes, you can ensure that those memories won’t be lost or damaged, so that they can be enjoyed for years to come.
- Reading materials: If your loved one is a bit of a bookworm, you could pay for a subscription to their favourite magazine, buy them a book, or even give them a kindle that’s been filled with their favourite novels.
- Create playlists: You can create a CD playlist, or even set up a Spotify account with all of their favourite music on it.
- Set them up online: Help your family members stay connected by setting them up on social media, WhatsApp, or a virtual meeting platform such as Zoom or Google Meet.
- Create personalised wallpapers: Set your loved one’s computer up with a slideshow background that slowly plays through family photos. You can also set their phone up with their favourite picture.
- Frame recipes, poems or favourite quotes: Find something meaningful to your loved one and frame it.
- Make donations: Donate to their favourite charity in their name.
- Create a ‘Family Favourites’ joke book. If you’ve got a family member who likes to crack a lot of jokes, collect the best ones and put them in a joke book, or even hide them inside bon-bons! The whole family will be able to enjoy reading through some of their loved ones’ best — and worst — jokes.
Involve parents & grandparents in preparations
Here are ways you can involve your parents & grandparents in preparations for the holiday season
- Bake: Make a cake, cookies or main meal together. Family baking is a great way to spend quality time with one another.
- Decorate their Christmas tree: Work together to decide on ornaments and lights, and decorate the tree as a family.
- Ask them to pass down a tradition: Family traditions can be forgotten over the years. Ask your loved one for a recipe, game, book or other Christmas activity that can be passed down through the years.
- Create decorations together: Make ornaments for the tree, or put together some DIY Christmas crackers, table settings or greeting cards.
- Ask them to write a Wishlist: On Christmas Day you can try to tick as many things off the list with them as you can.
- Share some Christmas memories: Ask them to tell you what Christmas was like for them when they were young.
- Plan the Christmas menu: Discuss what food you would like for Christmas this year and put together a menu.
- Perform the family nativity: You can record the pageant and send the photos or video as a gift on Christmas.
- Create DIY advent calendars: Each pocket might contain a treat, or a family activity that you can enjoy together.
Experiences to share
Experiences are a wonderful way of spending quality time together and creating new memories. Here are some ideas for experiences that you can share with your parents and grandparents:
- Make a photo album together: You can enjoy sharing the memories as you go through your photos and pick out your favourites for the album.
- Attend a course together: This could be a cooking class, dancing lesson or gardening skills class.
- High-tea: Take your loved ones out for a delicious high-tea in the city, or visit a local café.
- Day-trips: Outings such as family picnics are a great way to enjoy the outdoors together.
- Take them out for a nice dinner: Surprise them with a meal to a beautiful restaurant, or take them out for their favourite cuisine.
- Go to a show: You can take them to see a Christmas movie, a live performance, or carols event during the holiday season.
- Go Christmas shopping together: This could be food shopping or shopping for Christmas presents.
- Offer to drive them to friends’ homes: Older people may not be able to visit their friends as much as they used to. Take them to their friend’s house for tea and a chin wag.
- Do charity work together: Share the gift of giving to those less fortunate with your loved one. You can donate to charities or visit food halls to contribute to people in need.
- Plant a garden together: Not only is this a great way to spend quality time together, you can also enjoy watching the garden grow every time you visit. A garden is a great way of leaving a lasting memory.
- Read a book together. Choose a favourite book, or one that you believe everyone will enjoy, and read it together. Each family member can read a chapter or two. This activity isn’t just for the kids, adults can enjoy reading books together as well.
Long distance or Online celebration ideas
If you live overseas, interstate or just live far away from family and can’t spend the day with them, there are many ways you can enjoy a remote Christmas celebration with your loved ones.
- Create short videos: Each family member can record a Christmas greeting, or you could send a video of your children performing Christmas carols.
- Create a ‘preparation’ video: In the lead-up to Christmas, you can send videos of the Christmas preparations to get them involved in the excitement.
- Make and send homemade gifts: These could be ornaments or personalised gifts
- Schedule time for Facetime/Skype/ Zoom: Organise a time to meet up virtually on Christmas Day. Plan ahead and consider time differences so that everything goes smoothly on the day.
- Send greeting cards: These could be handmade and sent through post or eCards.
- Play a virtual game: The internet offers many opportunities to connect over long distances. Games such as 500, Poker, Scrabble, crosswords and quizzes are all great ways to bond with a loved one, even if you can’t be in the same room together.
- Send a wine pack and do a virtual wine-tasting together: Here’s one that should probably be reserved for the adults. Purchase a wine-tasting pack online and taste it together over a virtual meeting. You could even pay for a monthly wine subscription and carry the tradition beyond the holiday season.
- Have a virtual bakeoff. A bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone. Get on a Zoom meeting, set a time limit, and see who can bake the most beautiful cake, or build the best looking gingerbread house.
Ideas for parents in assisted living
Here are some ideas that allow family members in assisted living to enjoy the festive season. Celebrations should be fun and meaningful, while embracing new traditions.
- Decorate their room: Bring a small tree, ornaments, tinsel and a wreath, and decorate their room. Ask what colour combinations are their favourite, or surprise them with yours.
- Help them purchase gifts: Get your loved one to write a list so that you can go out and buy what they need.
- Arrange visiting times: Set aside some time for a visit on Christmas Day so that you can all open presents together.
- Accompany them to a Christmas meal: Perhaps they have a meal that they traditionally ate at Christmas when they were young. If you can’t find it at a restaurant, you could see if you could cook it for them instead.
- Watch a Holiday themed movie: Bring popcorn and other holiday treats to enjoy while you watch.
- Work on a holiday themed puzzle or craft: Find a fun activity that you can all enjoy together.
- Bring the carols to them: Organise for the grandchildren to visit and sing Christmas Carols, or record them and show it to your loved one.
Covid-safe Christmas Celebrations
2020 will offer some challenges to families during the holiday season. But there are still many ways to celebrate Christmas with your loved ones while remaining Covid-safe.
- Send a memory movie: Many important moments may have been missed by at-risk family members who were unable to see their families this year. Capture the memories and milestones from the year with a movie made up of photos and short videos to bring your loved one back up-to-date with what they’ve missed.
- Set up a virtual meeting: If it’s unsafe for your loved ones to attend your Christmas celebrations, consider setting up a virtual meeting on Google Meet or Zoom. They’ll still be able to celebrate with you, even if they can’t be there physically.
- Include your loved one in the background of your next Zoom meeting: This is a great way of showing how much you wish your loved one could be there with you.
- Wear Christmas-themed face masks: In order to keep at-risk family members safe, you may need to wear face masks. Festive face masks can bring a bit of fun to the end of a difficult year.
- Take the party outdoors: Indoor spaces come with a higher risk of spreading diseases. Outdoor parties are a much safer way of celebrating Christmas in 2020.
- Zoom Secret Santa: Set a budget and give plenty of time for everyone to find a present and send it in the mail before Christmas. On Christmas Day, everyone can enjoy opening their presents together via Zoom or Google Meet.
- Mail a box of treats: You can still enjoy the experience of eating together, even if you can’t be in the same room.
- Have a bad sweater competition: See who can find the ugliest sweater to wear in your Christmas Zoom gathering.
Remember to be Covid-safe this Christmas!
There are so many ways to honour and care for your elderly loved ones all throughout the year, and Christmas is an important time to be present with your family, however, please remember the elderly are most at risk during this pandemic, and therefore may wish to keep their distance this holiday season. Remember that even if they need to stay away, your loved ones still want to see you, and there are many ways that you can safely share Christmas with them.
If you are visiting your elderly family members this Christmas, remember to use a fist-bump or elbow bump instead of a handshake or hug, and don’t forget to bring a face mask and plenty of hand sanitiser.