We, the parents, adore it when you love on our children through quality time and gifts. We know how fun it is to be “Santa,” during the holidays or on birthdays, or even on weekend sleepovers.
We have some ideas for making this year’s gifts extra special. Tips for something that will bring happiness and good memories to last for years and years to come. These gifts won’t just become “clutter” around the house.
In other words, can we tell you what we (and our kids) want? What we reeeeally, really want?
Something personal or homemade
Homemade gifts that I received as a child, or an adult, only become more special as the decades pass, and they are wonderful ways to place a daily “I love you” in someone’s life.
Don’t let the term “homemade” scare you. If you can knit, bake, or carve, perfect! If not, here are some other personalized gift ideas that you can order, or make with your grandchild:
Search for a studio near you, where you can hand-paint a mug, plate, or plant holder either alone or with your grandkids. My daughter’s favorite plate is the one her Mimi decorated for her, and we get to think of her every day!
You can do many of these yourself, such as creating a laminated photo place mat for your little one of all your favorite memories together. Or, order one of many fun photo products from shutterfly.com.
There are many options for customizing a book, from adding a child’s name to the story, their photo to the character, or choosing the characteristics of the illustrations, picking your story, and adding your own note to the front page. I totally adore this idea and have already ordered one for my kiddos! Start here to customize a book.
No matter the gift, if you find something that aligns with your grandchild’s current obsession, from dinosaurs or Spiderman to glitter or tutus, both your child and grandchild will appreciate that you found something that’s sure to put a smile on their face.
This is a BIG one but such an important idea, as what most of us want is to spend valued time with our loved ones. Buy your grandkids tickets to a show, movie, or place they have been wanting to visit. Or, get them a gift card for ice cream. To make it extra sweet, let them know you will take them! Or add in a new outfit for them to wear on their special outing.
Natural Bridge Caverns, Animal World & Snake Farm, or Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch are just a few really cool outings. Bowling, laser tag, and golf are also some fun classics that every kid should get to experience.
If you live close to your grandkids, gift them an envelope with ideas for 12 fun outings that y’all can do together; then, each month, let them pick one of them and treat them to it.
This is my personal favorite, so I’ve made a list of a few of my favorite memberships in San Antonio, with links. Just click on each to go to their website. Most other cities have something similar. Almost all of these are worth it if you visit at least twice a year. Plus, most places have other member perks, such as shop discounts and extended hours. I love having memberships for my kids, because I can go anytime we need to get out of the house without cutting into our monthly budget. Plus, even if I can only go for two hours before nap time, it’s still worth it.
- San Antonio Botanical Garden (great for all ages)
- San Antonio Zoo (great for all ages)
- The DoSeum (good for ages 10 and under)
- Witte Museum (best for ages 5+)
- Six Flags Fiesta Texas (good for ages 3+)
- SeaWorld San Antonio (good for all ages)
- San Antonio Aquarium (good all ages)
In this day and age, there is likely a monthly subscription for whatever your grandchild is into. Baking, candles, clothes, art, books, toys, tea—if you Google it, a subscription for it probably exists! A subscription is literally the gift that keeps on giving (month to month). Plus, kids LOVE fun mail. You can usually pay for a chunk of 3, 6, or 12 months at a time, or just sign up to pay for your subscription service month-to-month until you cancel it. I recommend ordering it in time to have the first kit/issue/box/crate/etc. arrive by Christmas and then letting your grandchild know they will have more coming!
Here are a few subscription services that I’ve tried and really love:
National Geo Kids—great for early readers or any child who has an interest in pets
KiwiCo.—fun and educational STEM activities
Little Passports—a fun way to explore other countries and cultures
Here is the thing about toys. Kids think they know what they want, but they don’t. My seven-year-old is the most susceptible person EVER to commercials on TV. She “wants” everything she sees. Occasionally, I indulge her. For her recent birthday, I bought her a toy she had been asking for three months. But just as I predicted, she played with it for all of three days and hasn’t touched it for months since. Many types of toys also accumulate lots of small pieces that can become overwhelming or choking hazards. If you’re considering something with several pieces, consult Mom and/or Dad first.
Of course, not all toys are created equal. Some are made to encourage years or creativity and learning, like beloved LEGO®.
If you need some inspiritation, here is a list of the best rated toys for 2019.
Educational, reusable, or toys that encourage group play are great. I’ve had good experiences with items that have the “Best Toy Award Gold Seal.”
Board games are exciting and encourage quality time with family and friends. Plus, they make for a great family gift.
And since I have you here, can I tell you some things we really DON’T want you to get our kids?
I promise, our kids are getting more than their fill between holiday meals, parties, and treats. More candy leads to overly hyper or cranky kids!
More stuffed animals
They likely already have more than they have room to store, especially if there are siblings. Exceptions are stuffed animals with a voice recorder, so you can leave a sweet message to wish your child goodnight every day. You can find that here (or sometimes at Target, or on Amazon).
Inexpensive plastic toys
Avoid things found at the Dollar Store, sold at carnivals, passed out at parades, etc. They may seem like great stocking stuffers, but they’re not helping anyone. My kids get excited about these items, play with them for a day, then it’s just junk. I feel guilty letting it lay around the house and equally guilty sending it to a landfill, but usually it’s not worthy of being re-gifted. Ergo, these are the worst!
The whole wardrobe
Some clothes are great, but moms and kids enjoy the opportunity to pick things out themselves. Pajamas are the exception to this, as a kid can never have too many and probably isn’t too discerning about someone else’s choice for sleepwear.
I hope you found something that will bring you and your grandchildren many happy moments. I’d love to hear about what gifts were a hit with your kids or grandkids in the past. Share your suggestions in the comments!