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Kendal at Oberlin Blog

The Grandest Gifts for Your Grandkids

Posted by Molly Kavanaugh on Dec 14, 2017 8:00:00 AM

wrapped gift with a star on the packageWhen it comes to giving a gift to the young people in your life, a lot depends on the age, activity level and personality of your grandchild or “grand friend.” Some children like big boxes; others, thin envelopes, while other boys and girls enjoy gifts that don’t come in a package.

Since giving is a two-way street, your age, activity level and personality also play a role.

Best Gifts for Grandchildren

The perfect gift is pleasing to both the giver and receiver, so let’s find a match.

Travel and Other Package-Free Gifts

Many older adults enjoy traveling, from cruises and other passport-bound destinations, to outdoor excursions and big-city exploration in the United States. Add youngsters to the mix, and traveling can become even more enjoyable.

“More and more seniors are finding that vacations with their grandchildren are great bonding experiences filled with wonderful memories—if planned carefully,” according to Today.

“Planning carefully” starts with talking to the parents before you book a trip. Not only do you want to make sure you pick a conflict-free chunk of time, but also a trip that the children are likely to enjoy—and if you’re taking more than one child, that might take some juggling.


Intergenerational travel isn’t the only activity you can participate in with children. Try these! 


You can plan your own intergenerational trip or let a company, such as Road Scholar, make the arrangements. The not-for-profit offers 158 intergenerational trips, from a walking excursion through Austria and Switzerland to exploring Boston’s historical roots.  

The company offers five travel tips:

  1. Choose activities you can enjoy together;
  2. Encourage the kids to make friends during the trip;
  3. Capture the moment—taking pictures and videos can be a joint project;
  4. Relax, be silly, play—hey, you’re on vacation;
  5. Plan the trip together.

Maybe the adults in the family select the destination, but don’t think you must decide every detail before or during the trip. Let the children have a say about activities, such as travel options, excursions and other side trips, including restaurants.  

Travel, though, is not the only way to spend time with your special youngster. Often a one-day outing can be just as special. Depending on your mutual interests and where you live, consider buying tickets to a sporting event, off-Broadway play or musical performance.

And nothing beats an overnight with grandparents when rules are lax and special treats (food and otherwise) flow freely.

Things Money Can Buy

Often, older adults figure money is the best gift—or last resource—but don’t want to give a money-holder card because it seems impersonal and fleeting.

Think about gifts you can buy that will last all year. In Northern Ohio, popular gifts include a summer pass to Cedar Point or a year’s membership to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo or the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Magazine subscriptions have pretty much gone by the wayside, but there’s a new industry called “subscription boxes” that are mailed monthly to the recipient.  Boxes include “Tinker Crate” for creative problem-solving, “Foodstirs” for cooking fun, and nature-based “Our Little Roots.”

Want to give a monetary gift that will last even longer than a year? Consider buying a child stock or other investment to be used for college expenses. They may not be thrilled at the time, but they will be grateful when they are older and trying to select a college they both want and can afford.

A Gift from Hands and Heart

What do you love to do? Take photographs? Knit scarves? Carve animals? Make quilts?

Children cherish (or eventually will cherish) a gift made by their grandparents. You can make the gift even more meaningful by letting the child select favorite colors or objects for the handmade gift. Better yet, give them photography or knitting lessons if they are interested in learning.

As for filling a big box, think old. Do you have a model train in the attic? Maybe with a little TLC you can get the train running again. What about refurbishing the antique doll tucked in a closet?

Speaking of memories, we’d love to hear about a gift you fondly remember from your grandparents.

Want more gift ideas? Read our blogs!



In the past, Molly Kavanaugh frequently wrote about Kendal at Oberlin for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter for 16 years. Now we are happy to have her writing for the Kendal at Oberlin Community.

Topics: Financial Planning

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