5 Meaningful Gifts for Your Grandkids

a grandma spending time with her grandchildren

Grandparents have one of the best jobs in the world: showering their descendants with presents during every visit. After all, they want to make an impact in their grandchildren’s lives, too. In such cases, meaningful presents have much more impact than ones from a chain store. If you’re stuck for ideas, here are some gifts for toddlers to bring on your next family trip:

1. A favorite childhood book

What better way to make memories with your grandchild than to share a favorite childhood story? You no doubt have a beloved book you couldn’t put down as a small kid, so see if you can find a copy. An older edition of book will have a lovely vintage appeal that your grandchild will come to appreciate as he or she grows older. Unfortunately, you may have difficulty tracking one down, as older books don’t usually show up in store catalogs. If you simply can’t locate one, you may have better luck with the favorite book of your son or daughter.

If the book in mind was a classic, you should be able to find a recent printing – possibly with updated illustrations to boot! In fact, you may even be able to find an interactive version in print or digital form.

2. A first experience

What’s more exciting than a first time at a zoo or theme park? Make these moments even more special by taking on chaperone duties, leaving the parents with some much-needed time off. Commemorate the event with a specialty photo or pressed coin.

A grandfather with two grandchildren in the park.A first trip to the park makes a great gift.

3. A quilt that represents 18 years

Quilts are classic handmade gifts. Make this even more special by personalizing it to represent your grandchild’s life. Each year, add a row of squares that represents something significant or heartwarming from the prior 12 months. For example, you could incorporate baby’s first year by making a square from the hospital blanket he or she was brought home in.

“A quilt makes a comforting security blanket.”

The quilt will be too small for use at first, of course, but it can still be a comforting security blanket as your grandchild grows up. At age 18, it’ll be a good reminder of family support as he or she takes the first steps into adulthood.

4. A handcrafted mobile

Most of today’s mobiles are – to put it lightly – plastic junk that’s hard to put together but easy to break. Why not take matters into your own hands and craft one yourself? Using sturdy, natural materials like wood and hemp means the mobile will last longer, while your personal touch makes it a unique keepsake that your grandchild will surely love to pass on to the next generation.

Crafting a mobile isn’t difficult at all. All you need are two rods and strong glue (alternatively, you can use a single hoop), some string and something to dangle and entertain the baby:

  • Cross the rods so they make the form of an X. Securely fasten with glue. If you’re using a hoop, skip this step.
  • Cut the string into various pieces, each at least six inches long but no so lengthy that baby can grab them from the crib.
  • Attach the hanging pieces: wooden cutouts, pompom animals, fake flower buds or anything you want. Get creative!
  • Tie or glue the hanging strings to the cross or hoop. Attach a loop of string to the other side so the mobile can hang from the ceiling.

If you want some more DIY ideas, The Spruce collected 18 great mobile tutorials for you to browse through. Select your favorite or pick bits of each to make your own!


5. A personal pendant or charm

If you want to give a gift that’s age appropriate but doesn’t scream “baby,” try a charm that little one can wear throughout the years. These will be more personal if you add a bit of yourself to them, rather than purchasing a product from a big box store.

How can you make a charm personal? One idea is to use your handwriting. Write a short note and have a jeweler inscribe it on a pendant. Alternatively, you can go with the spoken word. There are many services that can print your voice as a sound wave and etch it on a charm. Both of these ideas can be purchased relatively cheap on Etsy.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.