It doesn't get as much attention as Mother's Day and Father's Day, but the September holiday of Grandparents Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the special relationship between your children and your parents. There are any number of things to do on Grandparents Day, from the simple to the more involved, so all you have to do is think of which activity would suit your family best.
Grandparents Day always falls on the Sunday after Labor Day, according to National Today, so for 2019, that's September 8. It was established more than 40 years ago as a way to recognize the role grandparents play in their grandchildren's lives. Some Grammas and Granddads are lucky enough to live with or near their grandkids and watch them grow up, while others live far enough away that every visit is a special occasion. Still others serve as regular caregivers, who get to know their grandchildren's friends and teachers almost as well as their parents do.
But all grandparents are a vital link not only to family history, but to the history of their generation. Reading about World War II or the Vietnam War pales in comparison to listening to the stories of a grandparent who actually served. Grandparents recall the days before cable (and color!) TV, cell phones and tablets. They may have begged their parents for permission to buy the latest Little Richard 45, go to Woodstock, or wear platform shoes. And their grandkids love hearing about it all.
Make this Grandparents Day one to remember by trying one of these activities, or come up with something equally meaningful to your family. The memories you'll create for your children and parents alike will last long after the day is over.
1. Make one of their favorite recipes together.
Is Nana famous for her chicken and dumplings, spaghetti sauce, or oatmeal cookies? Does Pops make a mean pot of chili? Get the ingredients together and invite them to show the grandchildren how it's done. Depending on their age, the kids can help with measuring, stirring, or chopping — and, of course, everyone can do a taste test.
Give a special gift to go along with this cooking day: a blank recipe book for your grandparents to fill in and give to the kids for their own future kitchens. Or buy a plain white mixing bowl or platter and use a china pen to write one of the grandparent's recipes inside.
2. Look through family albums.
Bring out the photo books (or hop on the computer) and have Mimi, Peepaw, and the kids sit down for a trip down memory lane. Grandparents offer a unique perspective on family history that deserves to be shared as often as possible — and your children will love hearing about your childhood. (Yes, Mommy tried on Gran's makeup when she was your age!) Have the camera ready to record the sweet moment.
3. Give them a memory book.
To preserve those cherished memories, give the grands a grandparent memory book where they can record their own childhood reminiscences, their travel and job history, and their experiences as parents and grandparents. Have them fill out a couple of pages as the grandkids watch, reading out their answers and answering questions.
4. Visit a place you used to love.
Have the grandparents introduce your children to wherever the family memories cling: The beach or fishing hole where you spent your summers. The homemade ice-cream shop you went to on every birthday. The museum where you first learned about dinosaurs, Van Gogh, or science. The playground where your parents pushed you for hours on the swings. Or, if it's not too far a drive, put everyone in the car and go to the homes where your grandparents grew up.
5. Play their favorite music.
Whether your grandparents or parents are Beethoven fans, jazz aficionados, Parrotheads or hardcore rockers, having them share their musical tastes with your kids will help pass on the love to a new generation. Get the Spotify ready (or have the folks show the young ones how a turntable works!).
6. Arrange a sleepover.
Even the fanciest 5-star hotel can't compare with an air mattress, a movie, and a late bedtime at Gran's place. Or plan a family overnight at a local hotel and let the grandparents and grandkids spend time by the pool or the breakfast buffet.
7. Make a photo collage.
Take some of those family pictures and let the grandparents and grandkids go through them and pick out their favorites. Together, they can lay them out for a framed collage that will hang in a place of honor in Grandma's house. Or have them laminated into placemats for the kitchen table.
8. Have a grandparent/grandchild tea party.
Get out the dress-up clothes! Plan a magical afternoon with Gram and the kids: Serve iced tea, cookies and mini-sandwiches (crusts cut off, if you please) on the nice china (or some fancy-looking plastic tableware), and let the bonding begin. Invite some favorite dolls to the party, if they promise to behave.
9. Make a handprint craft.
Those little fingers don't stay little for long — and no one knows that better than a grandparent. Preserve this moment in time by getting out the washable paint and making a child-handprint memento, as shown on How Wee Learn, for all the Meemaws and Papas in the family. A flowerpot, plate, tree picture...whatever you make, you can be sure it will be cherished and displayed proudly for years to come.
10. Make "I love you because... " cards.
A store-bought card with a flowery rhyme is nice, but you can step up your game this year by having the kids write down, or dictate to you, the reasons they adore their grandparents. The answers might raise a chuckle ("Gampa smells like coffee") or a tear ("I love how DiDi reads to me"), but they'll add a personalized touch to your greetings that can't be duplicated by a store. You can add your own list of things you admire about your parents' skill as grandparents, too.