In my family, our grandchildren now number thirty-five. My former elementary school classmate, and dear friend, is just having her first. No matter the number, the event of becoming a grandparent is ALWAYS monumental. It changes the dynamics of the family, adds responsibility, and magnifies your love.
I saw an online article listing keepsake grandparent gift ideas to welcome a new grandbaby, and I thought the ideas were great. But then I got to thinking about some of my older grandchildren (older meaning no longer infants) and how much more important it is for me to give them keepsake gifts.
What is a keepsake gift? The dictionary says it is something given to be kept as a token of friendship or love. I’m going to expand on that definition with my own. A keepsake gift is a personalized, unique gift that helps the receiver
- recall a treasured event
- know they are cared about and loved by the giver
- recognize the gift is sincere and freely given.
Of course the greatest gift we give to our grandchildren is to live by Jesus Christ’s example so their memories of spending time with us will be wrapped with warm fuzzies. But what are some temporal gifts we can give that will fulfill my keepsake definition?
Here are nine ideas for valuable keepsake gifts from grandparents to grandchildren.
With today’s technology, you can send a “selfie” and a quick thinking-of-you note via email or phone.
Often I take photos during our grandchildren activities, group and print them with a little note, and send them through the mail to individual grandchildren. Later, when I go to visit at their homes, I see some of those photos in their rooms, reminding them of the fun times we’ve had together.
For example, I found a treasured photo of my mother, grandparents, cousins, and some extended family members having a tea party with me and my sister when we were little. So I followed that theme by inviting three of our younger granddaughters, who were not yet in school, to join me for a little party.
I gave the girls crowns, necklaces, and special stickers. The little girls made the refreshments and the crowns for their dolls. We had a fun day. After they went home, I printed photos of the girls and placed the photos in the mail addressed to each girl.
2. Memory Boxes
When I was very young, my father built a wooden box or chest for me. It was only about a foot deep, wide, and high, but it was large enough, and I treasured it. I got to paint it and put decals on it and make it really “mine.” I even had a little lock on it so I could put into it my diary and special, prized items.
Giving a grandchild a memory box would be a nice gift. To make it more of a keepsake gift, however, you could spend some time with the grandchild and talk about a similar box or container you may have had as a child to collect your treasures. You could put into the box a personal note to the grandchild or a memorable item.
My granny and grandpa did a bit of traveling. Upon their return, Granny often gave me a collectable—a unique cup and saucer set from the area of the country they visited. To this day I have many of the items from this collection. These sets helped me learn about the places Granny visited and endeared her to me.
My granny, Clara Curtis Kimball, was an accomplished musician. She had an extensive collection of bells. I remember sitting in her living room when she picked up one bell after another and rang out tunes. These bells also came from different parts of the world where she and Grandpa traveled. In her later years, she gave some of those bells away—truly precious keepsake gifts. These gifts are priceless and will be passed down one generation to the next.
4. Time Capsules
Now this idea takes a bit more forethought! A time capsule is a great keepsake gift.
Save the birth announcement, pictures, cards, printed programs from the day your grandchild is born, first walking, athletic and music events, different levels of graduation, and church events. Put the items in a special container. Select a goal date to give the time capsule, like the child’s sixteenth birthday or his or her engagement to be married. Include a letter, telling the child how much you have loved watching him or her grow and what an asset he or she is to you and the family.
5. Tradition Items
Like the time capsule, this idea takes planning and consistency. It also could fall in the category of a collectible. For the grandchild’s first Christmas or first birthday give a gift that you can add to each year, something that can be used over and over. An example is a Christmas ornament, a new one each year. Another example might be a charm bracelet or necklace, a new charm added every year.
One of my daughters has two sons. Their Grandma Call gives each boy a new Christmas ornament each year. The boys, now teenagers, enthusiastically show off those ornaments every Christmas. The tree is now heavy with love. When the boys marry, they will take that love into their own homes and share the joy of those ornaments with their children.
6. Passionate Handicrafts
Many of us have hobbies we are passionate about, contributing to a skillset we develop over the years. You can use that skillset (sewing, woodworking, gardening, writing, etc.) to make wonderful keepsake gifts for grandchildren.
My mother started a tradition using her incredible knitting and crocheting skills. She made an afghan for each grandchild as they turned ten years old. Then she went the extra, extra mile and continued that tradition for the next generation and is now in the process of making afghans for every great-grandchild turning ten. In addition, my mother has made Christmas stockings for EVERY member of her family, including every person who marries into the family. You can appreciate the effort and devotion when you consider she has 26 grandchildren and now 85 great-grandchildren!
I love to sew. With the numbers involved this was a bit of a challenge, but one year for their birthdays I made a pillow for each of my grandchildren. I embroidered their name on their pillow and a picture I thought they would enjoy.
7. Puzzle Picture
Use either a picture of you and your spouse or a picture of the grandchild and make it into a puzzle. This can easily be done by printing on simple cardstock, on printable puzzle stock, or taking you photo to a printing company. Prior to printing, use your computer software to add a note on the photo for your puzzle, one that says something like, “[Name] is loved by Grandpa and Grandma.”
Instead of using a photo, this idea would also be successful using a poem or special saying that tells the grandchild he or she is loved.
How about making a video with your grandchild, something they can watch over and over? Perhaps the two of you could pretend you are putting on a cooking show, showing how to make pizza or another favorite food. Or a video of the two of you making a craft or playing the piano together. Or maybe just talking and laughing together.
Happy times, easily viewed, not only are reminiscent but give a child the feeling of stability and value.
9. Letters for the Future
Write a letter to your new grandchild on the day he or she is born. Take all those sensitive emotions and share them in a letter, including your insights about how cherished he or she is by his or her parents. You could give the letter to the parents to be placed in the baby book, or you could later add it to a time capsule or memory box.
My wonderful husband and I have a “combined” family. When we married, one of our grandsons was just a young toddler. He brought me a great deal of joy. I wrote a letter to him and gave it to his parents. When he was a teenager, I reminded his parents of the letter and asked them to have him read it. Now that I am thinking of it, I believe I will have him read it again!
This is a portion of that letter.
I want you to know how much you mean to me. I know you are not really my grandson because I married your grandpa after you were born. (When I married Grandpa, all of my grandchildren lived far away and I missed being able to see them.) But because of your wonderful, happy, bubbly, accepting personality I want to own you as my own.
Marrying into someone’s family is a very hard thing to do. A lot of adjustments have to be made. But you have always been a spark of justice, a spark of joy to me. You smile when you see me. You call me Grandma.
So many times I’ve heard that grandparents need to give their grandchildren unconditional love. But, you know, it has to be reciprocal, and you have done that for me. You have given me unconditional love. You haven’t treated me differently because I wasn’t your real grandma.
When you are a teenager and you begin to question your worth, I hope your mom pulls this letter out from its hiding place and asks you to read it. At a very young age you made a big difference in someone’s life—mine. You will continue to make a difference for people because you are good and kind, you are gentle yet strong, you are tender-hearted yet you know where to stand your ground, you are a son of God.
We are not going to be able to claim or re-claim all of our family through keepsake gifts. However, when given sincerely, these gifts help our family members recall treasured events and sense our love, and they increase the desire to be a strong link in our family chain.
Fay A. Klingler is the author of the best-selling book The LDS Grandparents’ Idea Book, the award-winning I Am Strong! I Am Smart! and many other books and articles (www.fayklingler.com). She can be contacted on her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/FayKlingler.