One of the great joys of being a grandmother is spending time with our grandchildren, seeing them enjoy the little moments every day, watching them learn and grow – and then sending them back home to be with their parents!
Many grandmothers love to give gifts to their grandkids. But buying gifts for grandchildren can be surprisingly complicated and sometimes involves emotions and conflict – some parents might not want their kids’ grandparents to spend too much money on gifts, for fear of “spoiling” the children; or some parents might feel that expensive gifts have expectations attached.
To avoid any difficulties and ensure that every gift is received gladly as an expression of love, here are a few ideas for buying the best gifts for grandchildren.
Before you spend a lot of money on gifts, talk with your grandchild’s parents about what they feel is a good gift, based on the child’s interests, abilities and play patterns. Some children might want a noisy, active toy while others might want something quiet, like a book, puzzle or board game.
Find out what kinds of TV shows or hobbies your grandchildren are most passionate about these days – children’s interests can sometimes change quickly, and the “must have” toy of six months ago might no longer be at the top of the child’s wish list.
Talking with the child’s parents first is also a good way to demonstrate that you want your gift purchases to be supportive of their parenting choices and that you are not trying to be a distraction or add unnecessary clutter to the house.
Donne Davis, founder of GaGa Sisterhood, says that before you dive into the fabulous world of sparkling lights and buzzing motors that is the children’s toy market today, make sure that your plans are aligned with your grandkids’ parents.
In addition to avoiding any potential family issues, Donne says that there are other reasons to consider classic toys, made from wood and textiles, rather than the latest gadgets.
Most parents (and a surprising number of kids) would prefer high quality toys instead of disposable plastic items. If you can afford it, Donne recommends looking for simple, high-quality products, made from wood or fabrics. This logic applies for kids of all ages.
Younger kids may appreciate toys or building blocks made from high quality materials. Older kids may appreciate something from Etsy or Handmadeology. Even your teenage granddaughter may appreciate some unique jewelry that matches her personal style.
The only caveat here is that kids love to compare. If you are the only one buying handmade items and traditional toys, they may pale in comparison to your grandson’s new PlayStation.
That said, if you agree on an approach with your grandkids’ parents, this situation is easily avoided. The key is for everyone to be in sync with their gift buying strategy.
It’s been a while since you’ve had small children living with you in your house, so take time to research the gift and consider whether it’s safe and appropriate for kids your grandchildren’s age.
Fortunately, most toys have clearly marked recommended age ranges on the packaging, but you can also read magazine review guides to see the best recommendations of toys for specific age ranges. For example, Parents magazine has a good article with detailed lists of recommended toys for each age of childhood.
Instead of toys or expensive gadgets, think about giving your grandchildren an “experience-based” gift – like tickets to a sporting event, a membership at the zoo or museum, or a subscription to a favorite magazine.
Other types of “experiential” gifts might include sporting equipment, cooking utensils, or materials for arts and crafts (depending on what types of activities your grandkids love to do most). Sometimes these gifts can be simple and small – a new box of crayons from Grandma can brighten a child’s day immensely!
Especially if you’re on a budget and are trying to make your retirement savings last longer, buying a lot of gifts for your grandchildren might not be a good financial move. Instead of overburdening yourself financially, look for opportunities to spend more time with your grandchildren.
Take them to the park. Host them at your house for a special “weekend at Grandma’s.” Read to them, garden with them, cook with them, sing with them, dance with them, watch them run and play and grow, and teach them about what you know and love along the way.
The gift of your presence and your attention is one of the most lasting reminders that your grandchildren will have that they are loved and that they are part of a beautiful continuity of family life, reaching across the generations.
Author and Sixty and Me contributor Sue Belding decided to order stuffed animals with a voice recording box inside that she found on Amazon. Each grandchild got their own stuffed animal with Sue’s voice singing them a personalized song.
Dave Price, freelance writer and speaker specializing in grandparenting, suggests that you take into consideration the ages of the other children. Your 10-year-old granddaughter or your 9-year-old grandson might really love the latest Star Wars Lego set. However, consider how many Lego sets remain unopened in closets for fear that younger brothers or sisters might swallow the pieces.
Dave also says that we need to be considerate of the other grandparents. In an ideal world, grandparenting would not be a competition. However, not all grandparents are financially equal.
Other grandparents (or parents) may consider your gift an attempt to show them up or buy love from your grandchildren. That doesn’t mean you can’t buy the gifts you want; it just means to consider the other family implications before you do.
How do you choose gifts for your grandchildren? Do you love to spoil your grandkids with gifts, or do you believe that “less is more”? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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