10 thoughtful grandparent holiday gift ideas

Need the perfect gift for the perfect grandparents? Choose from one of these 10 thoughtful ideas.

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  • It's fun to give gifts to grandparents, but it can also be tricky. Sometimes grandparents are downsizing and don't need more stuff, and some grandparents seem to have it all. If you need assistance choosing the perfect gift for some very special people, here are 10 thoughtful gifts perfect for this holiday season.

  • Digital photo frame

  • For grandparents who live far away, a digital photo frame is a great way to help grandparents see what their grandchildren are up to. Some models even have an app that allows you to download photos directly to the frame. Make sure to offer help setting up the frame if needed.

  • Photo books

  • If your grandparents love looking at photos and reliving memories, consider photo books. You can choose a theme, like a vacation or family reunion, or do a year in review. If you know enough about your grandparent's life and have access to photos and journals, consider making a special photo book about their personal history.

  • Grandkid artwork

  • Most grandparents love to see their grandchildren's creations, and the options for this gift are numerous. A simple idea is to have kids color a picture on quality paper and have it framed. Several companies turn artwork into mugs, pillows, blankets, stuffed animals and print it on canvases. Your kids will have fun creating a signature piece for their special grandparents.

  • The newest version

  • If your grandparents have things they like that are wearing out, consider buying them a newer version. For example, you could replace a favorite teapot that is rusting, a set of glasses that is mismatched, dish towels that are worn out or pots and pans that have been around for longer than you. Some items have sentimental value, so be sensitive when replacing things.

  • An experience

  • Whenever I ask my dad what he wants for Christmas, he says "Don't get me anything." For the grandparent who truly doesn't need anything, consider gifting an experience to be enjoyed together. My grandpa got to go on a hot air balloon ride for his 80th birthday.

  • Other "experience" ideas include a boating or rafting trip, visiting important historical locations, trying a new skill like glass-blowing, or going to a play or concert. Experiences can be more fun than gifts because you get to enjoy them together.

  • Old favorites

  • If your grandmother has a favorite perfume or your grandfather has a magazine he can't live without, gifting them their favorite things is a good idea. Sometimes traditional gifts are the way to go.

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  • Heartfelt messages

  • If your grandparents truly don't need anything, and you're on a tight budget, a sweet handwritten letter will be a gift they will cherish. You can help your children honor their grandparents by writing letters and packaging them up with goodies. Smaller children can draw a picture and dictate short sentences.

  • A helping hand

  • For grandparents who live nearby, consider giving the gift of help. A teenage grandchild could offer a few months of lawn mowing. You could give coupons for car washes, weeding, window washing and other tasks your grandparents might appreciate help with.

  • Treasured keepsakes

  • Framing old family photos, adding to a favorite collection, giving a book about a time in history important to your grandparents or making a family tree are all keepsake ideas that make thoughtful gifts and deep impressions.

  • If you have a grandparent who served in the military, framing medals and other awards might be meaningful. You could also re-frame family heirloom artwork or make a special photo collage. These items can be passed down to future generations as well, making them gifts that give again and again.

  • The gift of time

  • If an experience is out of your budget, but you'd still like to do something with your grandparents rather than give a traditional gift, be creative and think of a way to spend time together that will be meaningful and fun for everyone. Monthly lunch dates, bowling trips, baking lessons, taking walks or hikes and help running errands are ways to spend time together.

  • No matter what gift you give the grandparents in your life, if you put thought into your gift and give with love, you'll make them very happy this holiday season and throughout the whole year.

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Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.

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