There’s nothing like the look of joy on your grandchild’s face when they get a gift from you that they really love. But how do you find that perfect gift? This gift guide offers inspiration for every age and stage, from the time your grandchild first enters the world into adulthood.
But you won’t find the usual list of toys and tangibles on this gift list. Parents will tell you that their kids have lots of stuff. Maybe too much stuff. And many of the things that delight them at first all too quickly become relegated to tomorrow’s pile of unused clutter destined for the local thrift store. We’ve put together a list of presents for kids that are outside the box and do not feature toys.
Gift Ideas for Kids
This gift guide recommends non-toy ideas (with just a few practical exceptions) to stimulate your grandchild’s mind and imagination and to bring you closer together as a family. Before you buy, though, check-in with the parents to make sure your intended gift is in line with the parents’ values and your grandchild’s interests and needs.
Gifts for Babies
Let’s start with presents for kids—the littlest ones. A new baby is a precious gift and as a grandparent, you probably want to give your precious one the world. While there are baby gift options abound at this age, it’s best to balance what you give with what the parents want, as well as with what is useful or needed for the baby.
Here Are Some Gift Ideas for Kids and Infants to Suit Everyone’s Needs
- A handmade gift. Something you make yourself is a special gift your grandchild can treasure for a lifetime. If you sew or knit, make a quilt, blanket, stuffed animal, or doll. Or, create a scrapbook or memory box to hold special mementos from the baby’s first year and beyond.
- Books. Reading out loud helps develop babies’ language and literacy skills, and also can strengthen the bond you share with your grandchild. Build a library of classic books—such as Goodnight Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or Guess How Much I Love You—that you can read to your grandchild again and again.
- Essentials for baby. While not the most glamorous gift, busy parents will appreciate a store of everyday essentials, such as diapers, wipes, diaper rash creams, and natural soap, plus baby Ibuprofen or Tylenol for when a fever hits.
- Sensory toys. From the day they’re born, children begin making sense of the world through their five senses. Play that engages the senses encourages this process, helping to build nerve connections in the brain and supporting language and motor skill development. For babies, look for sensory toys that make sounds, light up, and have bright colors, patterns, and different textures.
- Education fund. It’s never too early to start saving for your grandchild’s education. A 529 savings plan is a smart way to save for college expenses such as tuition, books, and supplies. Open an account now, contribute regularly, and watch the earnings grow tax-free.
Gifts for Toddlers
Toddlers usually aren’t fussy when it comes to gifts. Almost anything will capture their interest—from everyday objects you have around the house to purposeful playthings designed to help them master new skills.
Here Are Some Christmas Gift Ideas Your Grandchild Will Love at This Stage
- Art materials. Toddlers are natural artists. They love to experiment with colors and textures and the more tactile they’re allowed to be, the better. To encourage the young artist in your life, buy a mobile art storage cart and stock it with safe, washable finger paint, markers, and Play-Doh. Sponges, brushes, and other tools like glue sticks, glitter, and different types of paper products are great, too. Now watch and wait for all those amazing creations to emerge.
- Role-play toys. Playing pretend is an important part of child development. It’s a fun way to act out real-life roles, interact creatively with others, build problem-solving skills, and do what parents do. You can promote role-play with toys such as a doctor’s kit, lawnmower, vacuum cleaner, kitchen, or workbench—or props that spark the child’s imagination, such as a box of costumes, a magnifying glass, or a fireman’s hat. All of these make great presents for kids.
- Furniture. Your toddler grandchildren will love having pint-sized furnishings all their own (and for entertaining friends). Whether it’s a chair and a table set, rocking chair, or even a comfy couch, your grandchildren will cherish these gifts indefinitely. Especially if the parents keep them somewhere as the child grows. It’s always fun for an older grandchild to see what they used to play with!
- Puzzles. This classic activity engages young minds and builds concentration, problem-solving skills and delivers such a sense of satisfaction when completed! Start with simple two- or three-piece puzzles for two-year-olds, moving on to more complex jigsaw puzzles for three years and beyond.
- Piggybank. Children quickly grasp the value of coins, and a piggy bank gives them a place to stash their very own collection and learn the rewards of saving (while building the fine motor skills required to fit the coins into that tiny slot). Personalize the piggy bank with your grandchild’s name to let them know the gift—and what’s inside—is just for them.
Presents for Kids Who Are Elementary School Age
Once they’re in elementary school, kids have clear preferences, so you can gear presents for kids toward the things you know they like.
Presents for Kids That Are Not Toys
These toy-alternatives can delight your grandchild while expanding horizons and building the bond you share:
Collectibles. Create a tradition with collectible items you can give to your grandchild on birthdays or special holidays. Collectibles can range from coins and model cars to dolls, charms (for a bracelet), and sports or action figures. Both you and your grandchild can look forward to the annual gift and have a common interest to share and talk about.
Subscription boxes. Subscription boxes are great gifts for kids, especially because they last well over the holiday! There’s one to fuel nearly every interest—from books and games to arts, crafts, science and technology—and they’re delivered automatically, so your grandchild can get excited about receiving something special in the mail each month. Most range from $10–$20 per delivery.
Experiences. Shared experiences are fun and can create meaningful memories for both you and your grandchild. Go on a train ride together, attend a musical performance or show, or visit a water park or aquarium. If there’s a zoo, theater, or museum in your area, consider purchasing an annual membership, so the whole family can attend regularly.
Classes. Encourage what your grandchild likes or is good at. Give the gift of music lessons or a series of classes in dance, art, sports, sewing, woodworking, or baking—whatever piques your grandchild’s interest. You may open doors to lifelong pursuits and even future occupations.
The gift of nature. Introduce your grandchild to the wonders of nature with a gift such as a bird feeder with seed and a bird guidebook; a terrarium, bughouse, or butterfly garden; or a pair of binoculars or a telescope. Plant flowers and vegetables together and watch them grow, or go on a nature walk, pointing out bugs, trees, and birds along the way.
Presents for Kids Who Are Teenagers
Presents for kids who are young are easy, but teens can present a gift-giving challenge. They’re up on the latest trends—which you may know nothing about—and they can be very particular about what they like, what they’ll wear, and what they’ll do.
Time-Tested and Tech Savvy Presents for Kids Who are Teens
But not to worry: We offer a few time-tested gift ideas your grandchild will love you for, plus a few tech-savvy ones that show you can rock with the times:
- Something meaningful to you. At this age, your grandchild can value something sentimental from your own life and treat it with care. Pass on a keepsake such as your first fishing pole, an heirloom ring, your mother’s necklace, quilt, or musical instrument.
- Shared activity. This is a pivotal time in your teen’s life. Why not spend a day together to connect? Find a volunteer opportunity you both feel passionately about, cook a meal together, share a hobby, or buy tickets to an event you’ll both enjoy.
- New driver support. Getting a driver’s license is a major rite of passage for your grandchildren. Consider gifts that will support them as new drivers, such as an emergency road safety kit, tire gauge, gasoline gift card, or coupons/gift certificates for a car wash, detailing, or oil change.
- Tile tracking tags. If you’re not familiar with it, Tile is a tiny Bluetooth device that can track down anything it’s attached to, such as a misplaced phone, keys, wallet, or luggage. A practical gift for teens, Tile lets them find lost items by sound, by seeing its location on a map, or by getting an alert when it’s found.
- Debit card. In today’s world, teens need a debit card to make purchases, whether online or in-person at their favorite stores. A number of debit cards with smartphone apps are on the market, such as Current, that allows you and parents to put money on the card at any time while giving your teen the gift of financial education.
Gift Ideas for Adult Grandchildren
Gift-giving traditions may change as your grandchildren become adults and build lives and families of their own, sometimes far from home. But you can always give something special that they’ll appreciate and that expresses the love you’ll always have for them in your heart.
Gifts for Adults, Because They Will Always Be Your Grandchildren
Here are gift ideas to get you started for the grandchildren who have left the nest:
- Something for their home. The options here are endless. How about a useful kitchen gadget, wine glasses, a beautiful wooden serving bowl, a down comforter for cold nights, or an interesting lamp to warm a room? Think in terms of practical items in line with your grandchild’s taste, wants, and needs.
- Gift cards. Gift cards are popular because they allow the recipients to select their own gifts but be sure to choose carefully so your gift card doesn’t go unused. Find out where your grandchild likes to shop, dine, or be entertained, and buy a gift card accordingly.
- Spa day. With all the stresses of daily life, you can’t go wrong with giving the gift of a day at an area spa to decompress and receive some much-valued pampering. While this can be the perfect gift for the female grandchildren in your life, the guys may appreciate a spa day, too (be sure to verify that first)!
- Money. Financial gifts of any size are always appreciated, especially when your adult grandchildren are just starting out. Assistance with wedding costs or the down payment on a house can relieve some of the financial pressure on opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach. You also can gift up to $15,000 per year to each grandchild without tax implications. Just be sure to give within your own financial means.
No doubt, your grandchildren will take special delight in the tangible gifts you give, but even more meaningful over the long run is the gift of you: your time, your love, your unwavering support, and your listening ear.
These intangibles will provide your grandchildren with a sense of belonging, connection, and safety that will serve them in good stead all their lives and have lasting positive effects on their well-being. And that’s the best gift of all.
Among the many joys of being a grandparent, giving gifts to those you love can be so fulfilling. What have we missed here? What great gifts have you given to the grandchildren in your life? What gifts do you still remember receiving from your own grandparents?
Share in the comments below.