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Sure, part of the Grandma job description is to spoil your grandkids. I am a natural at that.

I want to give them things that I know they will love – and that I couldn't afford when their parents were growing up. Without as many financial obligations as I had when my own kids were young, I can manage to give them things I only dreamed of when I was the mom.

However, while I have purchased a sleigh-full of dolls, trucks, puzzles and other toys – I think there are even more important gifts we can give our grandchildren. These are gifts we can give now, during the holiday, as well as every other chance we get. Here is my list:

The 10 Best Non-Monetary Gifts a Grandparent Can Give a Grandchild

1. Time

Most of my gifts involve spending time with my grandkids. I am very blessed by being in the same city as all of my children and grandchildren. If you are not, however, consider using a technology like Skype to be "virtually there."

2. Share stories about your own child – your grandchild's parent

Share stories about things your grandchild's parent did as they were growing up.

  • Proud things
  • Impressive things
  • Smart things

Not embarrassing stories – but stories about how smart and strong and kind your grandchild's parent was. Simple things your child did really make an impression on your grandchild: your child figured out what was wrong with a broken door; your child saw how hungry the birds were in the snow and broke up bread to place out for them.

3. Help your kids - their parents

Let's face it – the holiday season is filled with extra shopping, weather and unusual schedules. That can spell stress – for your grandkids and their parents alike.

You can help.

Offer to babysit so their parents can get shopping or cleaning or wrapping done. Trying to accomplish the extra errands during Christmas with kids in tow can turn anyone into a real Grinch. You will take some of the pressure off the parents – and make your grandchild happy too.

4. Form and share traditions

Do you have activities you and your family have always done during the holiday? These can really help connect the family across years, miles and generations. If you don't have any as a family – consider starting them this year.

5. Reminisce about the 'old' days

Sharing things you did as a child  - and how the world has changed - can be interesting and fun for your techno-connected grandkids:

  • I used to circle things I wanted in the Montgomery Ward Christmas Catalog.
  • Carolers used to walk through my neighborhood singing. If your porch light was on, they knew to stop and sing. You could then offer hot chocolate or treats.
  • Our music was on round wax records. We played these with a machine that used a "needle" with a diamond tip.
  • Even when it was freezing cold, girls had to wear dresses - no jeans or leggings or pants!

6. Create together

You don't have to be Martha Stewart. Teach your grandkids to make snowflakes from folded paper. Draw on strips of paper and glue them together to make a paper chain. Get inexpensive stickers for your windows and arrange them together. What you make isn't as important as making it together.

7. Cook

Even young kids can help bake cookies. Stirring, measuring, pouring can all be done by toddlers. Older grandkids can read ingredients and watch the cooking time. Everyone can enjoy decorating and, of course, eating!

8. Watch a fun Christmas movie together

Of course I have my favorites - A Charlie Brown Christmas tops the list. There are wonderful movies that kids will enjoy - and you get some snuggling time with them too! Here are a few I love:

  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (I like the original animated 1/2 hour version best)
  • Mickey's Christmas Carol
  • Elf
  • The Santa Clause
  • It's a Wonderful Life (for older kids & teens)

9. View holiday lights

Whether you take advantage of some of the community-sponsored displays - or simply drive through your neighborhood, there is something magical and beautiful about looking at the lights decorating homes and businesses. You can choose your favorites, debate which colors you like best and vote for a favorite.

10. Read together

This is something that you can do whether your grandkids are young or older. Pick a favorite Christmas story and read it together. Toddlers may not be able to identify words, but you can bring the story to life by reading aloud. As grandchildren get older, they may enjoy reading a story to you - or taking turns. If you are in a different town, there are many recordable books you can create so you can read to your grandchild even when you are not there (or once you return to your home).

Simply being together. That is a gift your grandchildren will remember - even when they become the parent.

Sue Klein

Sue is a mom of two, grandmother of four and daughter to her own mother. She blogs about all things 'grandma.' ...

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