Thoughtful Gifts for Grandparents

Giving gifts to grandparents:
No matter how old or young you are, it is possible to find the perfect presents for your grandparents. You might not have a fortune to spend, a hundred ideas floating around in your mind, or twenty hours’ worth of time to spend shopping and looking, but you can still do it. A little preparation and shopping around will lead you to a gift that will make grandma and grandpa smile for the rest of their special day.

HOW TO NARROW IT DOWN

First, know what your grandparents are interested in. Not every grandpa enjoys telling war stories, smoking pipes or fishing. Like anybody else, grandparents are unique and should be considered as such.

Tip: if you aren’t overly close to your grandparents, get in touch with a relative who is. He or she can give you several very good ideas about what Grandma and Grandpa like and dislike, so that you can get started on finding the right gifts. If possible, pay the grandparents a visit yourself and check out their home while you’re visiting: you’ll quickly figure out favorite colors, designs and other vital information.

You can also start casual conversations with your grandparents to make them start talking about the things they like. Recall chats you’ve had in the past. What subjects keep coming up every time you speak with them? If you remember that Grandma always has something to say about quilting, then you know that it’s a good idea to consider shopping for something in that line of interest. If grandpa always complains about how hard it is for him to see the books he used to read all the time, you probably shouldn’t get him a pocket-sized version of “War & Peace.”

QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

To help narrow down the possibilities, you should ask – and answer – a few of these questions:

“What do they need around the house?” You might think it’s a little lame to buy or create something that is really needed, but your grandparents will appreciate it. If nothing else, they’ll enjoy the fact that you bought them one years’ worth of free lawn service so that they don’t have to do it, or pay for it, themselves.

“Where do they usually shop?” This can do two things. One is to give you a very good idea of where to look for their favorite things. The second is to help you if you’re seriously and completely jammed. If you just cannot think of anything, a gift card to their favorite store or restaurant is considered tasteful.

“What’s everybody else getting for them?” If the rest of the family is pitching in for a trip to Hawaii, you might be able to either chip in some cash or buy things that they’ll need for the trip. No grandpa with any self-respect can go to the islands without a Hawaiian-print shirt, after all.

This question also keeps you from unintentionally giving them the same thing that another relative has already bought or made. Few grandparents want two or three brand-new toasters on the counter, so be sure to get in touch with the rest of the family to find out what’s being planned before you make your purchase.

“What do they already have?” You might see a perfect figurine for your grandmother, but if she already has two or three that are just like it, she probably won’t fully appreciate yours. It’s not always easy to figure out what they already have, which means that you just might have to find something extraordinary and unique.

WHERE TO SHOP

Great gifts can be found anywhere, from flea markets to department stores to the Internet to malls. Once you know what you’re looking for (basically, at least), you can keep your eyes on the search everywhere you go. Who knows: you might find a giant book of crossword puzzles while you’re buying groceries or putting gas in your car.

Tip: don’t buy the first thing that you find. Wait a little while and check out at least two other ideas before you make a buying commitment. Otherwise, you might miss out on an even better gift.

NOT THAT YOU MUST SHOP �

You don’t have to shop for your gift. It can be handmade if you’re talented with arts and crafts, woodworking or other creative arts. If you’re a painter or photographer, for example, you could have your grandparents and other family members pose for a portrait. You could use your woodworking skills to make keychains, wall hangings, plaques or decorative frames. A writing talent can lead to a poem or story, or a sincere offer to record the family’s history as told by your grandparents and turn it into a hard copy of your ancestral life. The thought and effort that goes into presents like these will not be lost, and the family will have something to treasure.

Tip: if you aren’t an artist of any sort, you can still do something wonderful for your grandparents. The old “make a coupon book” idea is still effective today. You can offer to do income taxes, mow the lawn, prepare a home-cooked meal, or watch their pets while they take a much-deserved vacation.

Another tip: if you don’t live close to your grandparents, you can still do something special. Make a “promise book” filled with promises that you will keep. They can include things like “visit at least once a year,” “call you at least once a month,” or other, more personal things.

OTHER THINGS TO KNOW

You aren’t quite done yet. These tips will give you the final pointers before you are on your way to the Internet, department store, flea market, or wherever else you go on your gift-finding quest.

-Take the time to wrap this gift carefully. If you aren’t much of a gift-wrapper, find a relative or friend who can do the task. Presentation makes a difference, so put effort into this part of it. Don’t forget the card.

-If it must be shipped, be sure that it is secure and ready to go. You should use bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or some similar material to keep fragile items in place. However: don’t go overboard with the tape, as many older people might have trouble getting all of it off to see what you have given them.

-If you aren’t close geographically, be sure to include photos of your family with this gift. It isn’t quite the same as an in-person visit, but it gives your grandparents an updated photo; it also reminds them that, despite distance, you are thinking about them.

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