10 Cheap or Free Activities for Grandparents Day


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Celebrate Grandparents Day on September 13 by spending multigenerational quality time together. Here are 10 ideas for things grandchildren can do for grandparents, grandparents can do for grandkids, and grandparents and grandkids can do together. All are either cheap or free.


What do you remember learning from a grandparent? My grandfather taught me to skip, a memory that always makes me smile. Perhaps grandparents can introduce children to a hobby or a favorite song from long ago. The point, really, is not what they learn but how they learn it and how it becomes part of their history, something to recall later in life.


Grandparents Day doesn't have to be complicated. If grandparents live out of town and a visit isn't planned, a simple card (homemade or otherwise) is a straightforward and inexpensive way to let them know the grandchildren are thinking about them. A follow-up phone call reinforces the loving missive.


My grandparents have hundreds, perhaps thousands, of photos (many in black and white) and there's always a story behind each one. As a child I spent hours looking at and talking about the photos with my grandparents. Come Grandparents Day, sit down with the younger generation and use old photos to help pass on family lore. This is also a golden opportunity to organize and preserve the jumble you've stashed away.


A simple art project from Grandparents.com involves creating two portraits. Grandparents and grandchildren sit on opposite sides of a table and draw each other using markers, watercolor, crayons -- whatever works. When the artwork is complete, frame and display on the wall.


... Or treasure chest, as my 2-year-old likes to call this. Find a special box and fill it with items that hold special meaning. These could be anything from a rock to a photo or drawing. Collect ticket stubs, maps -- whatever has significance and is worth sharing. On Grandparents Day open the box with young family members and explain the significance of each object.


Hand art is a fun project to undertake with young children. Grandparents-Day.com suggests letting grandchildren trace a grandparent's hand, then place one of their hands inside the traced hand for the grandparent to trace. Vary the project with finger paint. Use a paper towel or sponge to cover a palm with color and make a handprint on the paper. Then cover a grandchild's palm with a different color paint and have them make a handprint inside the larger one. When dry, frame as a keepsake.


If grandparents live close by, prepare a meal and deliver it in person. The cost will be far less than dining out -- just be sure to make enough so that the entire family can partake together. Alternatively, grandparents and grandkids can cook the meal together. Intergenerational time in the kitchen is something many grandparents will cherish. Make the event extra special by gathering up the ingredients for one of their favorite dishes.


This easy and low-cost recipe for a 3-D handprint from the blog Homemade Grits calls for mixing flour, salt, and water. Knead, roll, and cut the dough; imprint with a hand; and bake. (Tip: Baking time seems to depend on the thickness of the dough. If the handprint is intended as a Christmas ornament, roll the dough thinner; otherwise it may be too heavy to hang on a holiday tree.) The ornament may be left as is or painted. If the back is rough, use a hot-glue gun to attach a piece of felt. Hand deliver to grandma and grandpa or pack up carefully and send in the mail.


Print a photo album and send to long-distance grandparents. Both Snapfish and Shutterfly offer relatively cheap photo books ($12 and $13, respectively). Also check out GrooveBook, an app for iOS and Android devices that lets users print 100 pictures into a photo book for just $3, shipping included. The pictures can be stored in the photo book or ripped out individually to frame.


Depending on grandparents' age and ability, planning a simple way to spend time together may be the most treasured present. Go for a walk in a nearby park or around the neighborhood; take a day trip to a local zoo or a museum the entire family will enjoy. If one grandparent has lost a spouse, a visit to the grave would be a sympathetic gesture and provide quiet, reflective time together.