We all know how special grandparents can be. They are credited for offering sage advice, wisdom, offering wonderful "listening ears," and, sometimes, letting the grandkids get away with things their parents won't.
President Jimmy Carter recognized the importance of grandparents when he made Grandparents Day a national holiday in 1978. The holiday falls on the first Sunday after the Labor Day weekend; this year, it's on September 8th.
Grandparents often give so much and expect so little in return, other than time and contact with their grandchildren. How can you and the grandkids show their love and appreciation for their grandparents? Here are some of my favorite and family-tested ideas that celebrate and honor the important roles that grandparents — and great-grandparents — play.
1. Photo Calendar
How about creating one every year? (In my family, the photo calendar is the "bomb"!) Sites like Shutterfly and Snapfish have easy-to-use templates in which you can include pictures of the grandchildren — with and without grandparents, artwork, pictures of drawings, poems, stories, and anything else that has been saved and can be uploaded as JPEGs. The only limitation? Your imagination.
2. Framed Pictures
With the digital age, hard copies of pictures aren't shared and framed like they used to be. Single? A collage? What about a handmade frame with the picture? Check out your local pottery painting studio or craft store for endless inspirational ideas.
3. Brag Book
Grandparents love to brag on and share about their grandbabies, no matter what their ages. The brag book, full of pictures, makes it easy. I created a number of brag books for the grandparents when my four were really young, and continue to update them. Keep the brag books small; say, a size that can fit conveniently into a purse. Much easier for those hands that may not be as nimble as they used to be.
4. "Love" Coupons
We generously give "love" coupons in our family. These can be created with or without the help of the grandkids depending on their ages. These special and personal handmade coupons can be embellished with stickers, drawings, puffy paint, artwork, etc. Ideas? Endless, but a few of our favorites are for picnics in the park, library or reading time, and baking together. Allow the kids to lead on what they and their grandparents like to do. The emphasis of our coupons is the gift of time to foster deeper connections and lasting memories.
5. Movie Night
Do the grandparents enjoy movies? How about a movie night and sleepover, complete with popcorn and/or the grandparents' favorite snacks? Do you experience the full seasons where you live? You might want to save this special night for a cool or cold evening when the kids can snuggle in with their grandparents.
6. Game Night
We love board games and cards. They're a multi-generational and expected pastime within our family. Games teach kids fairness, patience, strategy, teamwork, and good sportsmanship. Make sure the games will work well with and hold the interest of the ages of the kids and grandparents. For example, most ages can play Dizios, but this does not hold true of Bananagrams.
7. Grandparent Interview
Help the kids create a list of open-ended questions to ask. The interview can be recorded. You can also dedicate a journal for this purpose, preferably created by the kids, something like "The Biography of _____ ________, My Grandpa." If you opt for the journal, the list of questions can be in the front pages.
8. Appreciation Poster
"Why we love…" poster. The kids can construct and decorate a poster small enough to fit somewhere visible on one of their walls. Again, leave the kids to their imaginations. One thing fun to include with the smaller kiddos is to add a hand in hand area. Add this after the gift is given, draw the grandparents' hands and then the child's within. The outlines can be highlighted with marker or puffy paint and dated.
The ideas to honor and celebrate grandparents are endless. They will appreciate knowing they matter and are loved.