The Grandma Bag demystified

As some of you may know—because I've written about it here and here—I get a kick out of looking at the search terms that lead folks to Grandma's Briefs. Nearly every time I check those queries, there's one variation or another of the question, "What's a grandma bag?"

To answer that, dear inquiring minds and those who didn't read about it the first time, I offer you The Grandma Bag least as it applies to my Grandma Bag.

My grandma didn't have a Grandma Bag, only a purse. Same for the grandmas of my children, my mother and mother-in-law. So I had never heard of a Grandma Bag until right after Bubby was born, when Megan, a teacher, mentioned how sweet it was to hear one of her students tell about the magical tote "Grammie" brought along on her visits.

If I remember correctly, seems that particular Grammie visited her granddaughter's class at one point and explained to Megan exactly what her ever-enchanting Grandma Bag was. The story was that Grammie's Grandma Bag was a tote filled with fun things to do with her grandchildren during her visits. Everything in the bag arrived with Grammie...and went home with Grammie when she left. Because of the short period available for enjoying them, all the activities inside maintained their magic and charm from one visit to the next.

The granddaughter's delight in her Grammie's Grandma Bag appealed to Megan, and she mentioned it to me in that offhand kind of way that carries the not-so-subtle idea that "You really oughta do this, Mom." So I did. I searched through my pile of purses, backpacks, and such that I can't seem to part with and found a floral bag I used way back in the day to tote travel goodies in the car while trekking here and there with Jim and the girls. It did indeed look like a Grandma Bag, if ever I'd seen one (which I hadn't, but you get the idea).

Then I started gathering things to pack in my Grandma Bag for its inaugural visit to Bubby. He was around two-years-old when I decided he was likely mature enough to marvel at the items within my Grandma Bag. My Grandma Bag—then and now—always features the following items to share while visiting, then pack back into my bag to take home with me:

• Picture books, of course.

• Craft activity ideas, and the supplies for execution.

• Movies. Mostly Disney movies I'm sure Bubby hasn't seen.

• Color crayons and color books.

• Construction paper, scissors, glue stick.

• Long, brightly colored pipe cleaners. (A recent addition, thanks to a suggestion from Grandma Lizzie.)

In addition to those standards, I always throw in a few unexpected goodies—changing with Bubby's age and interests—such as:

• Play-Doh activities.

• Snow...which Bubby never sees in the desert. Not real snow, but the artificial awesomeness known as Snow in Seconds. (Which, believe it or not, has never caused a ruckus of even the slightest sort with the TSA.)

• My apron so we can each wear our kitchen coverings when baking or cooking up the recipes I also included in my bag.

• CDs for a dance party.

Dinosaur eggs.

One key to the Grandma Bag is to add far more than you think you'll ever get around to using during a visit. Just like packing far more clothes than you'll wear, the idea is to have options.

The Grammie who first introduced me, by way of Megan, to the Grandma Bag supposedly didn't leave any of the goodies from her bag with the kids when she returned home. I go against that Grandma Bag rule and do leave something, sometimes a couple things, especially when it's an item I'm sure Bubby will have outgrown by the next time I see him. Or if it's an edible treat of some sort. Or a Matchbox car he'll adore. Okay, so I always have something in my Grandma Bag that I know will be left with my grandson.

That's the great thing about the Grandma Bag, though: It contains whatever you want it to, used in whatever way will delight your grandchildren. I can assure you if your grandkids are like Bubby, that anything and everything you pull from your Grandma Bag will be a crowd pleaser.

I say crowd because even though I currently have only one grandson who gives a hoot about what's in my Grandma Bag, as Baby Mac is far too small for it to matter at this point, others in the crowd—meaning me—are pleased as can be at Bubby's smiles and anticipation each and every time he and I prepare to pull another item, another activity from Grandma's Bag.

I once was told by a supervisor that the best ideas are stolen ideas, tweaked to become our very own. Right or wrong as that may be, I must admit that stealing the idea of a Grandma Bag is one of the best ideas I've ever nabbed, then made my own.

I encourage you to do the same: Steal this idea! Then go for the grandma gusto and make it your very own.

Today's question:

What did your grandma share with you—from a Grandma Bag or not—when she visited?