“Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” – Alex Haley
As grandparents, you love your grandchildren more than life itself. There’s nothing quite like the joy and astonishment of watching your grandkids learn and grow.
The Christmas season is a prime time for you to exhibit your love through gifts. But what makes the perfect gift?
There are always fun toys with lots of noise and flashing lights. Are they the best choice? Parents often despise these types of gifts, as they are demanding, loud, and often wear out quickly. Toys like these also don’t hold children’s attention long-term.
What about useful gifts? Historical non-fiction or a new set of dinnerware might make Mom and Dad happy, but most kids will probably feel let down when they open these gifts.
Happily, many gift options are helpful, educational, fun, parent-approved, thrilling for the kids, and satisfying for grandparents to gift!
Whether you’re on the prowl for a completely new take on gift-giving or looking for some insights on toys and more conventional gifts, you’ve come to the right place! Check out our list of fun and educational gifts for the grandkids this Christmas season! We’ve even organized it by theme and age-level for maximum ease.
Gift an Experience
A few years ago, I had a two-year-old and an infant with too many toys around my home. I was tired and fed up with the miniature pieces accidentally getting stepped on and the large-sized items littering my living room. Then, Christmas came around, and I dreaded the expected onslaught of additional toys.
When my parent’s gift for the kids arrived in the mail, imagine my surprise to find they had gifted our family an annual membership to the local zoo! For the next year, their gift kept the kids happy and learning and gave us all countless hours in the fresh air.
Gifts don’t have to be limited to items. A great way to offer your grandchildren joy, fun, and even education includes sending them an experience. You can often cater the experience to an interest the child already has, such as art, music, or cooking.
Here are some experience ideas, but you can be as creative and wild as you’d like! Remember that a gift can be a one-day experience or a whole year of fun:
- Science museum
- Rock climbing
- Trampoline park
- Ice or roller skating rink
- Music lessons
- Cooking classes
- A behind-the-scenes experience (orange juice factory, ice cream factory, a local dairy farm, a local supermarket, etc.)
- Art or pottery classes
- A creative writing course
- Horseback riding lessons
- Ballet, gymnastics, or martial arts classes
- A local fine arts concert
Gifting an experience is one of the most memorable and constructive ways to spread joy this season!
For many children, having their grandparents involved doubles the enjoyment! Gifting an experience with yourself as a ride-along, or even the primary adult, can enhance the fun.
Gift Your Time
Along these same lines, you can gift yourself and your time. You and your grandchild can enjoy time together working on a project or heading to a specific destination with endless possibilities. Offering yourself allows you to spend time with your grandkid and is also extremely easy to individualize to particular children.
Here are a few suggestions to get your creativity flowing in this direction! And an added plus? They are all educational by nature or offer a prime opportunity to sneak that constructive instruction in without the kiddos being any wiser:
- A trip to the library together
- A Saturday (or all summer!) at the local Farmer’s Market.
- Building a tree house or a fort
- Preparing for and completing a craft or art project together
- A day visiting local historical sites
- A trip together to the bookstore (don’t forget that new book and specialty chocolate bar!)
- A fishing trip together
- An afternoon gardening
- A day cooking or baking their favorite dishes or desserts
- A day collecting rocks and tumbling them
- A day hike, keeping a nature journal, or pressing flowers you collected together
As a child, nothing meant more to me than an adult that I loved taking the time to be with me one-on-one for an extended period of time. It might seem simple, but a fun experience with their grandparent(s) might be precisely the gift your grandkid needs!
Now the Toys
(Please note: we do not get any ad revenue from the following links. Our staff just really like these toys and wanted to share them with you!)
For the Wee Ones
If an experience or your time isn’t possible due to distance, time, or simply not your thing, that’s ok! There are literally countless toys on the market that are fun, intriguing, and constructive for developing minds and busy little hands!
When you start shopping, remember that many toys are marketed as “educational,” but which ones are best? Education.com offers these qualities to look for in the toys you’re considering!
- Match the child’s interests, abilities, and age group
- Open-ended play. Education.com explains this concept, “Open-ended toys like blocks, builders, building bricks and arts and crafts materials…can be used over and over again—and in different ways. In a very real sense, these toys can grow with your child.”
- Encourage imagination and pretend play
- Promote social skills and collaborative play
- Encourage real-world exploration
- Involve math skills or language development
Some other qualities to look for, especially for very young children, include sensory engagement, comparing, sorting, problem-solving, letter and number identification, and cause and effect.
Below are some of our top picks:
- Classic wooden alphabet blocks are at the top of this list. They come in simple, timeless forms or beautiful heirloom quality.
- Regular building blocks are also a keeper! Open-ended play has never been more fun.
- Stacking cups will keep the babies intrigued and exploring the world in various ways!
- Shape sorting toys like this one stimulate several developmental milestones while encouraging plenty of fun.
- Textured toys like this set of textured balls are multi-faceted, open-ended, and stimulate sensory play.
- Megablocks are always a good choice. They are safe for young kids and are tons of fun for years.
- The classic Rock-A-Stack offers fun while teaching problem-solving, colors, and cause-and-effect exploration.
- Activity boards, such as this one from Melissa and Doug, are highly educational and intrigue children for hours.
- Kinetic sand is a terrific choice for the toddler years and up. With hours of open-ended play and sensory exploration, kinetic sand is excellent on its own or as part of a kit or sensory bin.
Five to Twelve
If your grandkids are beyond infanthood or the toddler years, the market has plenty for them! Remember to check potential gifts for their age and developmental requirements. Check these options out:
- Magnatiles are highly popular with young and old alike! Whether they have one set or several, the imagination keeps growing.
- Building fun just keeps getting better with these building blocks from Brickyard Building Blocks. Other great building options include the Picasso Tiles, Jasonwell’s brilliant set, or interlocking building sets like these.
- Tinkertoys are a classic take on imagination and open-ended play. Another terrific option you can never go wrong with is the iconic Lincoln Log set.
- Erector Sets stimulate creativity, problem-solving, and mathematics. These are great gifts for those hands-on, science-minded grandkids!
- Science can be fun and so exciting as a kid! Gifts such as this mini-composter, the classic ant farm, or a bug-collecting kit allow kids to learn about nature while having exciting fun.
- Science can be fun with gifts like a rock tumbler, crystal growing kits, or this volcano set. For something even more lab-like, check out options like Smart Circuits.
- Games are always a welcome choice. Newer, innovative games like Gravity Maze Marble Run are fun, but so are classics like Pickup Sticks and Jenga, which encourage problem-solving and creativity.
- Fun educational options like Melissa & Doug’s Magnetic Human Body Anatomy Play Set allow kids to experiment with magnetism while also learning about the human body. Two education points in one toy!
- Puzzles are timeless gifts with wide variabilities. A classic-style puzzle is a great option, but check out some creative possibilities. This 3-D coloring puzzle set will keep the artist busy for hours, while something like this functional 3-D Wooden puzzle is great for the hands-on type.
Teens can be challenging to buy for. But with a bit of creativity, you can shock the socks off your grandteens with these enjoyable but mentally stimulating gifts!
- Games are often a big hit with this age group. Try something like Q-Bitz, Stratego, or Rummikub to strengthen those problem-solving skills. For a more complex twist, gift an Escape Room game!
- Fidget toys, stress relief balls, and anxiety-calming objects are big now. If you have a high-strung or stressed-out grandkid, give them a calming option like Speks magnetic balls.
- Sometimes it’s cool to see science at work while just chilling. This plasma lightning ball is an intriguing addition to any teen’s bedroom or workspace.
- Clean water is a significant concern in your teen’s world today. Give them the chance to learn about the process with this mini water filtration plant!
- Getting some teens out of the house or in touch with nature can be difficult. Introduce them to the wonders of gardening with this indoor herb garden starter kit to get their feet wet. The deluxe garden gift basket is a great choice for the more sincere gardening enthusiasts!
- Technology is the future, and helping the grandkids prepare is a wonderful ambition. Get them started with a coding kit such as this one from Let’s Start Coding. Speaking of technology, what teen wouldn’t love a gift like this Robot Car Starter Kit?
- Some teens are readers, and some simply aren’t, but the book Life Skills for Teens is one anyone could benefit from! The Way Things Work Now, and The Logic Puzzle Book for Teens are also terrific options that will keep your grandreaders occupied for hours!
- Art involves many creative processes, including mathematical equations and scientific principles. If your grandteen is into coloring, the Art of Entomology coloring book is a beautiful gift. If drawing is more their style, Drawing for the Absolute Beginner or How to Draw Fun Stuff Stroke by Stroke are great options. A quality art set will bring joy to any young artist’s heart.
- Hands-on projects such as this candle-making kit encourage creativity and show scientific processes in action. Wood-burning kits or even a 3-D printing pen are also great gifts!
Gifts That Keep Giving
The best kinds of gifts are the ones that last — either physically or figuratively. When a gift imparts knowledge, skills, or an experience, the impact can last for years. So, when you’re shopping for your grandchildren this Christmas season, remember that your gifts can make a life-long difference.