Forget the tchotchkes—this year, let your kids give their grandparents gifts that come from the heart.
Grandparents are the first ones to show up at school plays and ball games, and their cards are always the first to arrive on birthdays and holidays. On Grandparents Day (it's September 10th this year!), have your child return the love. From cool crafts to quality time together, we rounded up 10 sweet ways your kiddos can celebrate your family's MVPs.
1. Create an "I love you because…" list. Does your kid crack up every time he listens to one of Papa's silly made-up songs? Does he adore the nicknames Nana has given him? Have him write it—and every other thing he loves about his grandparents—down on a list and read it aloud to Nana and Papa on the big day. Email or print out a copy so they can follow along.
2. Make their favorite dessert. Need a fool-proof way to sweeten the grandparents' day? Help your child whip up their favorite treat, and decorate with sprinkles, raisins, or nuts for extra flourish. Tip: If you're bringing the goodies to their home or shipping them to another town, choose a recipe that will travel well.
3. Have a sleepover. Tops on most grandparents' wish list is more time with their grandchildren, and what better way to do that than with a sleepover? Pick a day that works for the kids and Grammy and Grandpa, and keep it free of plans so your children aren't shuttling from a playdate or party to their grandparents' house. If overnights aren't possible, have your child schedule a lunch or dinner date instead.
4. Create a kiss flip book. While nothing replaces a smooch on the cheek, this sweet kiss flip book comes pretty close. (Bonus: You can pull it together in an afternoon!) To make, position your kid in front of a blank, white or light-colored wall and take a picture of them blowing a kiss. Make five or so prints of the photo. (Hint: Opt for smaller-sized prints—think 2x3—if you want the book to be pocket-sized.) Using a red permanent marker, have your child draw one tiny heart on the photo. Add a heart on each subsequent photo (i.e. two hearts on the second print, three hearts on the third, and so on). To bind, punch holes on one side of the photos and tie together with string or pipe cleaners.
5. Take a walk down memory lane together. Everyone has a fascinating story to tell—encourage your child to interview Nana and Papa about theirs. Since "Tell me about your life" is tough to answer, have your child prepare a few specific questions ahead of time. "What did you love to do after school when you were a kid?" "What was your favorite thing to do in the summer?" and "How did you meet each other?" are all good conversation starters. Remember to record the conversation for posterity!
6. Make a scrapbook. Gather up your child's favorite photos, letters, and mementos of their time with Grammy and Grandpa, and put them in a keepsake scrapbook. If you're pressed for time this year, consider giving it to them as a gift during the holidays.
7. Learn about their hobby. Whether it's figuring out how to bait a hook, throw a perfect strike, or play a song on the organ, your child can learn a lot from her grandparents. Have her spend an afternoon with them doing some of their favorite hobbies. Besides making memories, your kiddo might even discover a new interest!
8. Customize a t-shirt. Take the sidewalk chalk drawing your kiddo made of Nana and Papa to the next level by snapping a photo of it and emblazoning it on a t-shirt for them. Designing the shirt is simple and can be done entirely on your smartphone—sites like CafePress.com and CustomInk.com are good places to check out—but keep in mind that printing often takes several days.
9. Make a photo book. If you need a memorable gift that can be made in under 30 minutes, look no further than a simple photo album. Print a bunch of your favorite recent pictures of your children, alone or with their grandparents and other members of the family. Include a date stamp on the back, if possible. Slip the snaps into a blank album and have your child jot a note on the inside cover.
10. Serenade them with one of their favorite songs. Is your dad's playlist chock-full of Billy Joel? Does Mom have the "Jersey Boys" soundtrack on repeat in the car? Teach your child one of their go-to tunes and have them sing it to their grandparents. (Be sure to record the performance for posterity!)