5 Experience Gifts for Grandparents

Mixbook provided us with holiday cards in exchange for this post. All ideas are my own, and ones we've used or considered ourselves.

If your parents are anything like our parents, it is REALLY difficult to purchase Christmas gifts for them. They have most everything they need, and can purchase anything they don't. Plus, something about grandparent gifts feels like it needs to be more personal than just a sweater or book.

With all these constraints, experience gifts tend to be a great fit for grandparents. They give them time or connection with their kids and grandkids, it's not just throwing money they don't need, and they feel unique and thought over. Plus, it's great for helping your kids build relationships with them!

Here are a few that we've done and loved or that we're considering this year:


5 Experience Gifts for Grandparents


1. TICKETS. Who doesn't love getting tickets to a fun event, especially to attend with people they love? We've given our parents everything from tickets to the orchestra to sporting events to Disneyland. Even something as simple as "tickets" to a family picnic, a hike, or an ice cream date are totally loved. Every one of them has been a hit. Even better if it's an activity to do WITH the grandkids!


2. FAMILY PHOTO SESSION. Schedules, clothing, behavior...family photos are just tricky. Especially multi-generational ones. We gave my parents a gift certificate to have extended family photos taken a few years ago, and they absolutely loved it. No planning on their part, and a gift that keeps on giving with the prints in years to come. Most photographers will print out a nice certificate for you to present. Be sure he or she gets some shots with just grandparents and grandkids together!

(photo by Katie Heiner Photography)


3. PHOTO GIFTS. Speaking of a photo session, they'll want to appreciate the photos, but who has time to print them? This isn't strictly an experience, but bear with me. We've done photo calendars most years for the grandparents for about 5 years or so. A couple years ago, we did a bigger-than-normal gift (I can't even remember what...) and were so excited to give it to them that we totally forgot about the calendar. Do you know what they missed? That dang photo calendar that I never thought was ALL that exciting, but that they love. So I put one together for them right after Christmas.

And you know what? Ever time we're at their house, my parents and my kids spend at least 20 minutes looking through every picture again and remembering all those fun times. So see? An experience after all.

Other great photo options are a photo book, a digital photo frame (wifi-enabled ones are nice so you can upload photos for them from anywhere), or a custom-framed or stretched canvas print. Mixbook is my FAVE for all of these things (and Christmas cards, too!). The first time we used them for Christmas cards, Dan and I both breathed a sigh of relief that we'd finally found a place that was both very reasonably priced but also high quality. After spending years of either using super cheap places (and being really frustrated by the lack of quality control/poor saturation/etc.), or paying what felt like way too much, we were so excited to get our cards from there. They're other products are just as beautiful! We purchased them with our own funds years ago, and I was thrilled when they offered to send us our cards this year. They're just as beautiful as I remembered!


4. NATIONAL OR STATE PARKS PASS. There's nothing like being in the outdoors with family. It's a perfect opportunity to disconnect and open up. I find that it's often easier for my kids to chat when they're doing something instead of just sitting still, and that's true with grandparents, as well. We love having a National Parks annual pass to get in free to any National Parks-operated site as many times as we want to go in a year. It would be so fun to get the grandparents a pass, too, so they can meet you there anytime, and also go on their own!

The regular annual pass is $80/year. That should cover an entire family (or one vehicle when driving in). It's free for military families and can be purchased at any National Parks site. If you have parents over the age of 62, it's only $80 for a lifetime pass!


5. FLIGHTS. If you have grandparents that live far away and can afford to fly them in to visit, there's almost no better gift. They'll know they're loved and welcomed into your home and your kids will have dedicated time with them. And if you're lucky, you'll even get to go on a date night while they're in town! ;)


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