One of the great joys of being a grandmother is spending time with our grandchildren, seeing them enjoy the little moments in every day, watching them learn and grow – and then sending them back home to be with their parents!

Many grandmothers love to give gifts to their grandkids. But buying gifts for grandchildren can be surprisingly complicated and sometimes involves emotions and conflict – some parents might not want their kids’ grandparents to spend too much money on gifts, for fear of “spoiling” the children; or some parents might feel that expensive gifts have expectations attached.

To avoid any difficulties and ensure that every gift is received gladly as an expression of love, here are a few ideas for buying the best gifts for grandchildren.

Talk with Mom and Dad First

Before you spend a lot of money on gifts, talk with your grandchild’s parents about what they feel is a good gift, based on the child’s interests, abilities and play patterns. Some children might want a noisy, active toy while others might want something quiet like a book, puzzle or board game. Find out what kinds of TV shows or hobbies your grandchildren are most passionate about these days – children’s interests can sometimes change quickly, and the “must have” toy of six months ago might no longer be at the top of the child’s wish list.

Talking with the child’s parents first is also a good way to demonstrate that you want your gift purchases to be supportive of their parenting choices and that you are not trying to be a distraction or add unnecessary clutter to the house.

Make Sure the Gift is Age Appropriate

It’s been awhile since you’ve had small children living with you in your house, so take time to research the gift and consider whether it’s safe and appropriate for kids your grandchildren’s age.

Fortunately, most toys have clearly marked recommended age ranges on the packaging, but you can also read magazine review guides to see the best recommendations of toys for specific age ranges. For example, Parents magazine has a good article with detailed lists of recommended toys for each age of childhood.

Consider Gifts of Experience

Instead of toys or expensive gadgets, think about giving your grandchildren an “experience-based” gift – like tickets to a sporting event, a membership at the zoo or museum, or a subscription to a favorite magazine.

Other types of “experiential” gifts might include sporting equipment, cooking utensils, or materials for arts and crafts (depending on what types of activities your grandkids love to do most). Sometimes these gifts can be simple and small – a new box of crayons from Grandma can brighten a child’s day immensely!

Give the Gift of Your Time

Especially if you’re on a budget and are trying to make your retirement savings last longer, buying a lot of gifts for your grandchildren might not be a good financial move. Instead of overburdening yourself financially, look for opportunities to spend more time with your grandchildren.

Take them to the park. Host them at your house for a special “weekend at Grandma’s.” Read to them, garden with them, cook with them, sing with them, dance with them, watch them run and play and grow, and teach them about what you know and love along the way.

The gift of your presence and your attention is one of the most lasting reminders that your grandchildren will have that they are loved and that they are part of a beautiful continuity of family life, reaching across the generations.

How do you choose gifts for your grandchildren? Do you love to spoil your grandkids with gifts, or do you believe that “less is more?” Please share your thoughts in the comments below. 


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