This article first appeared on Crosswalk.com, March 23, 2020.
Easter is an excellent time for having fun and connecting with your grandkids. The season also provides an exceptional opportunity for sharing the true meaning of the season with grandchildren whose parents don’t go to church.
As always, it is extremely important that we respect the wishes of our adult children. If they have forbidden us to speak about God or share our faith with our grandchildren, we would do well to honor their wishes while at the same time praying earnestly that their hearts would be softened on the matter.
If, however, we are not restricted in speech or action, consider these ideas for celebrating Easter with grandkids whose parents don’t go to church.
1. Easter Baskets
Easter baskets are one of the most prevalent traditions of the season. Go ahead, fill the baskets. However, instead of stuffing them with an abundance of chocolate and candy, help your grandchildren learn more about Jesus and the work of the Cross by filling their baskets with items that will turn their attention to the meaning of Easter.
Board books and simple picture books such as Good News! It’s Easter!, This Is Easter, He Is Risen: Rocks Tell the Story of Easter, and The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross help little ones hear the Good News.
The Three Trees, Easter-Ific!, or The Jesus Storybook Bible might be a good choice for the basket of your elementary-aged grandchild. And for older grandchildren, consider placing a copy of The Case for Christ or Evidence that Demands a Verdict in their Easter basket.
Other basket-filling ideas that will help your grandchildren learn more about the meaning of Easter include coloring and activity books such as the Easter Coloring and Activity Book by Our Daily Bread for Kids, an egg puzzle hunt activity set, and sticker and activity books. Seriously, what child (or adult for that matter) doesn’t enjoy stickers?
2. Resurrection Eggs
Another cherished tradition–the egg hunt! Rather than using the typical hard-boiled or plastic eggs filled with candy, consider using resurrection eggs for your Easter hunt.
Consisting of one dozen plastic eggs, each filled with a symbol of the Easter story, resurrection eggs provide a fun and engaging way for your grandchildren to interact with portions of the Easter story. Allow your grandchildren to open one egg each day during the twelve days leading up to Easter or after all the eggs have been found during the annual hunt. Either way, discuss the symbols as each is revealed.
Check out this article on how to acquire or make your own resurrection eggs.
3. Easter Family Gathering
Invite the entire family over for Easter Sunday. Gathered moments afford wonderful opportunity for influence.
Your gathering can be an all-day affair including Easter services at your church, dinner, and an afternoon of fun or some abbreviated gathering. And if your adult children prefer not to attend church with you, simply invite your grandchildren. Their parents would probably enjoy the break and can join the family later in the day (or not).
Whatever your choice of gathering, amid the traditional fun of bunnies, chocolate, and egg hunts, plan some activities that will help you share the reason you celebrate. For example, read the crucifixion account from one of the Gospels before dinner, discuss the morning’s sermon, or work some games that share the meaning of Easter into your afternoon recreation time.
Games and activities such as the He is Risen! Resurrection Card Match Game, Count Up to Easter Build a Scene Activity, and Easter Resurrection Mix and Match Game offer a calm diversion after the big egg hunt while at the same time provide opportunity to share your faith.
No matter what shape your gathering takes, make it your priority to model the life and love of Christ to the generations of your family.
Grab your mixing bowl, baking sheets, and apron. Then bake up some visual aids that will help your grandchildren “peer” into the story of Easter.
On the Saturday evening before Easter Sunday, invite your grandchildren over to help you make resurrection cookies or resurrection rolls. Engage your grandchildren in thoughtful discussion as you serve the results of your combined efforts for dinner on Sunday.
5. Plan a Sunrise Service
Enlist the help of your grandchildren in planning and carrying out your own family sunrise service. Ideally, planning should begin at least one week before Easter.
The first thing you will need to decide is where to hold your service. Will it be held on your patio, in the backyard, or in your living room? The best choice, of course, will be a quiet place where the sunrise can easily be viewed.
Other preparations for your sunrise service might include deciding on simple, portable breakfast items for the morning, passages to be read, songs to be sung, and whether you will sing acapella or use taped music.
Additional important considerations include the start time of your service, appropriate clothing needs (including items such as jackets for outdoor services), blankets or chairs, and anything that might be needed for carrying out your service.
6. Journey to the Cross/Stations of the Cross
Invite your grandchildren to attend a Journey to the Cross or Stations of the Cross with you. Many churches host an event of this type during the week leading up to Easter Sunday.
These events are multisensory family experiences that take participants along the path that Jesus walked during His last days on earth. The activities which focus on Jesus’ love and forgiveness demonstrate the real meaning of Easter and teach the life-changing message of the cross in a way that adults and children alike can understand.
7. Easter Scavenger Hunt
An Easter scavenger hunt will require some forethought and effort on your part but is likely to become a cherished family Easter tradition.
In the days leading up to your Easter celebration, spend some time in the Bible searching out passages related to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Select a portion of those passages to use as Scripture clues to be used in helping your grandchildren find symbols that represent parts of the Easter story. Passages such as Matthew 28:5-6; Mark 15:17, 46; Luke 23:44-46; and John 19:17-18 are a great place to begin gathering Scripture clues.
The next step is to write out your clues and round up your symbols.
Before your grandchildren arrive for Easter celebration, hide the symbols. Then when it’s time for the hunt, distribute the clues. As the hunt progresses, take the opportunity to talk with your grandchildren about the meaning of Easter, what it means to have faith in Jesus Christ, and your love for the Savior.
8. A Symbol of the Cross
One way to help your grandchildren learn more about the meaning of Easter is to buy them a cross. Meant as a visual reminder, the cross you choose should be age-appropriate to your grandchild, whether a wall hanging, item of jewelry, or pocket trinket.
Place your gift in a basket, wrap it up, or put it in the mail. No matter how you present the cross to your grandchild, be sure you include a note or letter explaining why the Cross is significant to you.
9. Engage Older Grandchildren Beyond a Single Day
The reality of Easter is incredible! Think about it. Easter is the time when Christians celebrate Christ risen, death defeated, sins forgiven, and evil overcome. No wonder it needs a season. How could we possibly celebrate such an event in a single day?
Help your older grandchildren grasp this mind-blowing, life-altering truth by inviting them to join you in a reading or study that takes them beyond a single day’s observance.
- Invite them to read and discuss John chapter 19 with you.
- Together search the Bible for evidence that points to Jesus being God.
- Issue a Cross-centered journal challenge to your older grandchildren.
- Purchase copies of Journey to the Cross: Forty Days to Prepare Your Heart for Easter or another Lenten devotional. Gift the books, age-appropriately, to your grandchildren. Read and discuss them together.
10. Customize Celebrations to Minimize Distance
Admittedly, face-to-face celebrations with our grandchildren are the best! However, the reality is that most of us are long-distance grandparents.
Please allow me to encourage you not to dismiss these ideas because you don’t “see” your grandchildren at Easter. Rather, permit me to spur you toward meaningful celebrations regardless of the distance that lies between.
Let these ideas spark your imagination:
- Mail an Easter celebration to your grandchildren. Your package may contain an egg coloring kit; Easter-themed plates, cups, and napkins; an appropriate craft; an age-level book on the meaning of Easter; or any of the ideas detailed above.
- Buy two copies of the same book and mail one to your grandchild. Once received, schedule a time to read the book together via Skype or FaceTime. Afterward, discuss the book.
- Snail-mail an Easter card to your grandchildren. Include a Bible verse or handwritten note about what Easter means to you.
- Package up the ingredients for resurrection cookies or rolls and mail them to your grandchild along with the recipe. Ask the parents of your grandchild to send you a video clip of the baking process or finished product. Discuss the experience and the meaning with your grandchildren afterward.
Whether you live nearby or far away, Easter is an excellent time for sharing God’s truth with your grandchildren whose parents don’t go to church. All it takes is a little forethought and effort.
Above all, no matter HOW you choose to celebrate with your grandchildren, be sure to take some time to praise God for His sacrifice; His deep, abiding love; the precious gift of grandchildren; and the opportunity to share your faith with them.