I’m not sure how the holidays crept up on me so quickly, but alas they are here. The family grows and that is a beautiful thing but the question remains: What do you give when you have no idea what to give?
If you are like me, I prefer to pick up gifts for the children and grandchildren throughout the year. As I travel or even locally, I inevitably find gifts that match personalities so I believe in stocking up before the pressure is on. Now though, with the holiday season upon us, it’s crunch time for the rest of the list. Instead of resorting to toys or expensive electronics, here are some ideas for more creative, memorable gifts from grandparents:
Family membership to local learning institutions. Help promote your grandchildren’s education through fun family experiences. We have so many cultural institutions and museums in Staten Island (including a zoo) that offer family memberships at a discounted price. Pick one and let your clan look forward to a year of visits.
Custom Gift Cards. Create a gift card telling the kids that you’ll take them, and perhaps a friend or two, to the next blockbuster movie they want to see. If you could, add a pre-movie pizza stop and a post movie ice cream. Present it in a festive box filled with their favorite movie snacks. This should work well with preteens but perhaps with older children a Broadway play or even a concert would be appreciated. Some of today’s teenagers do appreciate our old-school music.
Diaper Delivery. If you have a grandbaby, a coupon redeemable for disposable diapers and wipes by the case will be greatly appreciated. Print out a certificate with Expect Delivery By ______ on it. Then you can order online through websites like Amazon, Toys R Us, or Target and have it sent directly to their home.
Think Outside the Season. If your grandchildren like camping or hiking, pick up gear or gift certificates to stores that carry such equipment. Sleeping bags, backpacks, or camping gear are fun to use indoors as they wait for camping or hiking season.
Being a grandparent shouldn’t only be about what you can give, it is also about what you can teach. Besides sharing your cooking or crafting skills at home, why not sign up for some craft lessons along with the children? Perhaps a cooking, flower arranging, or a craft class would be fun. A search online or the SIParent calendar of events will show you options to attend with the children. If you have talents such as playing an instrument or artistic abilities, consider setting up a time each week for private lessons.
One of the greatest gifts you can give is to teach children to help others. As your grandchildren get older, their awareness of the world grows. Kids who express a passion for the environment should be exposed to the Greenbelt Conservancy here in Staten Island. The Greenbelt includes New York City’s largest remaining forest preserve, offering peace, quiet, and solitude. It is also home to wetlands, forests, meadows, and rolling hills that offer visitors a glimpse into the natural heritage of Staten Island. The Greenbelt is an extraordinary natural resource visited by over one million people annually with many opportunities to participate in events or volunteer. Check them out online at sigreenbelt.org
During this season of giving, make it your responsibility as the elders to teach to give back, keeping these four simple rules in mind:
• Be a Role Model
• Start Small
• Make It a Tradition
• Make It Meaningful
Life is Grand is the place for today’s generation of active, involved grandparents and seniors to get more smiles, have more fun, and create more memories during time they spend with their families.
By Staten Islander Marianna Randazzo, who is an author, educator, as well as a newly minted grandmother.