Looking for some gift ideas for your grandchildren who have everything? Whether you are contemplating gifts for teenagers or gifts for younger grandkids, we suggest that you focus on experiences instead of gifts. With some careful planning, you will likely create some of the best memories of their lives. And yours too.
Gifts for Teenagers?
Let’s face it, teenagers only want three things: clothes, electronics and money. But those gifts generally aren't satisfying for you. 1. You don't like the clothes they want, and you certainly don’t want them to wear those clothes when they are around you. 2. You don't understand the electronics that they want, and you hate it when they spend all of their family-time in front of electronic screens. 3. Money…totally unsatisfying.
Talk to Your Teen and Plan an Experience Together
If they are theater geeks, plan a trip to a live play. If you have the ability and it would be something special to your grands, plan a few days in NYC seeing Broadway shows. And note that many popular shows began Off-Broadway in smaller theaters, so investigate them too. If you aren't able to do that, see what shows are traveling to your nearest metropolitan city; there are always large Broadway shows on tour.
Photo credit: aabagailbishop
Or perhaps you plan a staycation Movie Fest. Older or classic films can be of great interest to theater geeks. There are many recordings of live plays available as well. Or go to your local Community Theater and ask if you can get involved. Maybe together you can help paint the sets for an upcoming production. Or shop for props. Community Theaters never turn volunteers away.
Got a sports nut? Investigate tickets to their sport of choice. You aren’t likely to score courtside seats for the Final Four at the last minute, but there are many options at all price levels throughout the year. The practice rounds of a golf tournament are often free to attend. They have low attendance and the golfers generally talk to spectators who follow them around the course. Pre-season practices of baseball and football teams are often open to the public.
Planning with Teens
We really stress that you should include your teen in the planning. Even if you plan their dream trip, if you do all of the planning yourself, they will likely skulk around, feeling like they’ve been dragged along without consent. To avoid the drama, treat them like a young adult and honor their desires.
It's fine if you want to set your own ground rules: no ripped jeans while in museums, no headphones during meals. But remember to give them plenty of freedom in their choices. Don’t try to turn them into YOU. But think creatively ahead of time about the things that are most important to you, and be willing to let them win a few points. It should be a give-and-take. Be prepared and open-minded; because you will be negotiating with a pro.
WARNING: Don’t fall into the trap of saying: I’m paying for this experience… You should be grateful … No one ever did this for me…. I’m in charge….In my day….I don’t understand you… Why do you like that….?
If you feel yourself thinking any thoughts similar to this, stop planning and just write them a check. You’ll both be happier.
If you’re still reading, then great. Focus on the thing that is most important to THEM. You’ll have lots more to work with that way. And this means each individual grandchild. Your goal is to provide them with an experience that they otherwise wouldn’t have in their normal busy lives.
GIfts for Tweens
Do you have tween granddaughters who love clothes and makeup? Take them on a shopping excursion to a high-end store and makeup counter. Even if you think they are too young for makeup, your grands are definitely interested in it. Let them learn makeup tips for their own coloring and age. Trust us, they will be clay in the hands of a beautifully made-up sales associate. And tweens are more likely to listen to them than to their mothers when it comes to makeup restraint. Buy them the age-appropriate makeup and celebrate their natural beauty with them.
Everything we've suggested can be done at any price point, just make it special. And that probably means a separate event for each grandchild. Imagine the nightmare scenario of dragging your NASCAR-loving granddaughter through museums with your Impressionist-loving grandson.
Remember that you don’t have to love NASCAR or the Impressionists to create memories with your grands. They will love the experience even more if they know that you did something special with them.
Gifts for Younger Grandkids
Everything we have mentioned can be done on an age-appropriate scale. Disney on Ice and the Harlem Globetrotters travel all over the country all year. Art classes and sports lessons can be arranged for any age; but be sure to do something different from the routine piano lessons that their parents sign them up for.
Photo credit: To & Fro Fam
Kids Who Have Everything
You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Remember, this post is about experiences, not things. And often, the best experiences can be had for little or no money. Imagine how much fun it would be to your ten year old granddaughter to have an actual conversation with a top-ranked professional golfer. Or for you to take a pottery class WITH your young grandson instead of signing him up and dropping him off?
If you do something in your hometown or in your own home, make it special and important. Go all out: set the mood with comfortable movie-watching seating and lighting. Wear the colors of the team you are supporting. Serve junk food. Stay up late with them. Listen to them. Laugh with them.
The focus should be on each other. Remember to do all of the things that you want from them: Turn off your phone. Don’t roll your eyes at them. Don’t sarcastically dismiss their suggestions. Don’t ignore them.
Here’s a secret about kids who have everything. They are used to having THINGS. But what ALL kids want (despite their parents’ income) is to feel important and understood and special.
And there’s no one better than a grandparent to make that happen.