Meri Grogan, Director of Administration and Finance
November 15, 2022
What words accurately encompass the place grandparents hold in their grandchildren’s lives? Unique. Influential. Priceless. Such a relationship can hardly be reduced to a few words, but we know in our hearts what our words cannot capture, the relationship is special.
I speak from experience. My own parents are present, both emotionally and physically, for my two teenage sons. In my eyes, they are the best grandparents ever! Their constant support, encouragement, and love for my boys provide a model of how I want to be when I have grandbabies of my own. Although I am not yet a grandparent, allow me to share a few thoughts on gifts that I’ve observed my parents graciously give to my children.
The holiday season is near, along with planning and decisions about how and where we will spend our time and money. What plans are you making as a grandparent, not just for this season, but for the future? This year, we suggest approaching this wonderful season with intentionality and purpose.
Before you look at gift ideas for your grandchildren, consider these questions:
- What heritage do you want to leave your grandchildren and how will you accomplish this?
- How can you use your resources of love, time, knowledge, wisdom, and finances to build into the next generation?
Here are five noble, intentional, and purposeful gifts you can give your grandchildren:
- The gift of encouragement
- The gift of experience
- The gift of provision
- The gift of tradition
- The gift of family history
THE GIFT OF ENCOURAGEMENT
Words are powerful. Decades of living have taught us this. A small seed of encouragement can blossom into a rich harvest. Make a plan to encourage your grandchildren throughout the year in a reliable, consistent manner. For a grandchild, to know that they are consistently thought of and cared for is a priceless gift.
Whether you grab your favorite notepad or make electronics work for you this year, you have many options for providing your grandchild with consistent encouragement whether you live near or far.
Prepare envelopes in advance and send a letter or card weekly or monthly. Your grandchild will look forward to stopping at the mailbox to see what has arrived.
THE GIFT OF EXPERIENCE
What does your grandchild enjoy? What would you like to teach them? What is something you enjoy and want to share or experience with them? We suggest the gift of an adventure box. Grab a box and fill it with 12 months of “experience” gifts. Below are some ideas:
THE GIFT OF PROVISION
It is no surprise that rising costs affect us all. Help your grandchildren by giving them the gift of provision. Begin saving for their future college expenses by opening a 529 College Savings Plan for as little as $25. This savings plan is named after section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. A 529 Savings Plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan that allows you to save for a beneficiary’s future college expenses such as tuition, room, board, books, supplies and more. The earnings grow free of federal taxation and, in the state of Iowa, you also receive a state tax deduction (in 2022, up to $3,522 per beneficiary).
As your grandchildren grow, so will their understanding of how you intentionally made provisions for their future. Click here for our recent blog article on College Savings 529.
THE GIFT OF TRADITIONS
Traditions are gifts that last forever. Long after we are gone, traditions are passed on from one generation to the next. Traditions create stability and foster a sense of belonging.
Consider creating special traditions for your family to carry into the next generation:
- Give your grandchild a special nickname.
- Have pizza with them the first Thursday of every month or host Sunday lunch.
- Pick them up after school for “Friday Funday.”
- Make their favorite dessert when they come to visit or have their favorite candy hidden in the pantry.
- Host Grandparent Camp one week each summer. Your grandchildren will love it and so will their parents!
- Make a prize closet in your home and each time they come for a visit, hide a prize for them to find.
- Make a Christmas ornament each year and invite them to help put them on your tree the following year.
- Dedicate a song to them.
- Give them a section of your garden box that is just theirs. Let them help you plant and harvest. Teach them the lesson of sowing and reaping.
- Each year, put all your photos from the year into a book for them.
- Have special plates and cups that are just for them when they visit.
- Take them out for lunch on their birthday, or for children whose birthdays are during the school year, bring them their favorite lunch and surprise them at school!
- Volunteer somewhere meaningful to you both.
- Use conversation starters at the dinner table, like these.
THE GIFT OF FAMILY HISTORY
Give your grandchildren the gift of knowing you and your family’s history. There are many resources to help you achieve this. This gift will take time, but it will preserve the family history they would otherwise not have.
Life Notes – A Letter Writing Kit
Letters to My Grandchild – Write Now, Read Later, Treasure Forever
Grandmother’s Journal – Keepsakes for My Grandchild
Your own personal journal.
Download a free grandparenting handout of these ideas and more by clicking here.
Grandparents are often able to buy material things that parents won’t or can’t. And while grandparents can splurge where parents may not be able to, you also have time and experience to give gifts that are rich in something far beyond their monetary value.
This year, consider how you can incorporate these noble, intentional, and purposeful gifts into your grandchildren’s lives in the years to come. Grandchildren may remember some of the gifts you buy, but they will never forget the way you build into their lives, provide them with security, share your knowledge and wisdom, and leave them a legacy of love.