Some people think that Grandparents Day is just another made-up holiday to sell “stuff” for commercial gain. (See below about what Grandparents Day is NOT.) However, there was a deeper motivation. It is a day for family and awesome Grandparents Day activities. It’s a day for celebrating the lives of those who connect us to our past.
What Exactly IS Grandparents Day?
Grandparents Day is a day to recognize and honor grandparents and the role they play in our lives. Let me give you a bit of history on how this came about.
Creating a national holiday was spearheaded by Marian McQuade. Like anything else worth doing, it took a lot of time and effort to bring about.
In 1979, President Jimmy Carter set the date and declared it an official national holiday! Geez, it makes me tired just thinking about how much work it must have taken to get this through all the red tape in Washington D.C.!! I believe the exact words were . . . “after many years, much persuasion, and unending persistence”. . .oh my! So, Thank You, Marian!
After the US created a special holiday just for grandparents, there were other countries around the world that jumped on board with creating their own Grandparents Day celebrations. Like the US, each uses the day to honor grandparents and participate in Grandparents Day activities.
When and Why Do We Celebrate Grandparents Day?
President Carter proclaimed the first Sunday after Labor Day in September to be set aside as National Grandparents Day. It’s a great time of year to engage in lots of Grandparents Day activities.
Why September? September was chosen to signify the “autumn” years of life. I kind of like that thought. For the most part, school is back in session and everyone is falling back into their routines. Fall is such a fun time of year anyway. Hey, it’s better than the “winter” of life, right?
In the proclamation that President Carter set forth, it describes the most beautiful description of grandparents and what we can do and be to the generations that come after us.
Here’s a snippet from that proclamation:
“Grandparents are our continuing tie to the near-past, to the events and beliefs and experiences that so strongly affect our lives and the world around us. Whether they are our own or surrogate grandparents who fill some of the gaps in our mobile society, our senior generation also provides our society a link to our national heritage and traditions.
We all know grandparents whose values transcend passing fads and pressures, and who possess the wisdom of distilled pain and joy. Because they are usually free to love and guide and befriend the young without having to take daily responsibility for them, they can often reach out past pride and fear of failure and close the space between generations.”
I think that is so beautiful!! My favorite part is “whose values transcend passing fads and pressures.” If we could just get our grandkids to understand that we have been there and done that! Golly! If only we could have helped our KIDS understand that!
Basically, there are 3 purposes to have a National Grandparents Day. They are to:
- Honor grandparents.
- Give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children.
- Help children become aware of the strength, information, and guidance older people can offer.
I have to say, now that I’m a grandparent, I’m all for this!! After all, I like having two days a year when people think I’m special. Ha ha!
Mrs. McQuade wanted Grandparents Day to be a celebration involving the whole family. In a sense, she wanted a day to connect generations. This should be a day not only to honor grandparents but to allow grandparents a chance to pass down their legacy and show love for those who will follow.
What Grandparents Day is NOT
Let’s talk just briefly about what Grandparents Day is NOT. Mrs. McQuade made it very clear that it was not invented as a commercialized day to spend money on flowers, cards and gifts. It was never meant to be a day to replace spending time together or sharing memories with a “token” of appreciation. (This may be why Grandparents Day does not get a lot of recognition, because if businesses can’t “capitalize” on a holiday, they tend to skip over it.)
Another interesting tidbit is that there is no apostrophe in the holiday name. Grandparents Day is not a holiday that “belongs” to grandparents but just a special day for each generation to celebrate the wonderfulness of grandparents! (Yes, I think I just made up a word; although, Microsoft Word didn’t fight me on it. Hmm. . .maybe it IS a real word.)
27 Awesome Grandparents Day Activities
To Parents and Grandkids:
Whether your grandparents live close by or you are separated by a long distance or even if your grandparents have passed on, we have some awesome Grandparents Day activities for your family. Yes, there is the typical “give them a gift” thing. But, consider some Grandparents Day activities that will help you enhance your relationship with them.
Don’t sit back and wait for your children or grandchildren to initiate the celebration. Take charge and make the day something that you will remember as well as they will. Consider some of the activities below to do with your grandchildren. Many of them can be done in person or from a distance.
Grandparents Day Activities Whether You Are Near or Far
- Look at pics and tell stories
- Share a favorite memory from when you were their exact age (if you can remember!)
- Show a special object and tell the story behind it. Or gather a whole box of heirlooms and let the grandchildren take them out one by one while you talk about those things.
- Quote a favorite bible verse, and tell how it has affected your life
- Do a comparison about your favorites and your grandchild’s favorites – song, movie, after school activity, etc. (We thought you might like a printable to go with this activity. Just click on the link below the picture!)Download Your FREE “Now & Then” Game Here!
- Talk about the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and why.
- Go to your favorite dessert place and share a treat with your grandkids
- If possible, go to a childhood home (or another special place) and take pictures.
- Tell a story about the greatest natural disaster that you’ve ever witnessed.
- Talk about a day when a national tragedy struck. Tell where you were, how you felt, and how it has changed your life.
- Have your grandchild interview you on video. Give them a make-shift microphone.
- Pull out a picture of your wedding day and talk about that day or the proposal. If you and your spouse are both together and still alive, talk about this together on video. Make sure you include details about how you each felt.
- Find a recording of one of your favorite songs from your childhood and share it with your grandchildren.
- If you have an old school yearbook, pull it out and go through it with your grandchild. While you’re at it, reconnect with an old school friend via Facebook.
- Did you ever get in trouble as a kid? Share a time where you learned your biggest lesson. (Then, of course, tell the grandkids not to repeat that mistake. )
- Share a funny memory with your grandkids that involves their parents.
- Tell your favorite joke from when you were a kid.
- Make your favorite food together. Pass down a family recipe.
- Teach your grandkids something about your favorite hobby.
- Share something spiritual with your grandkids.
Grandparents Day Activities If Grandparents Have Passed Away
- Visit the cemetery
- Have a memory night – share memories of that person, have their favorite meal, or go to their favorite restaurant
- Have a candlelight ceremony
- Read parts of a journal they left or get out a momento that reminds you of the person.
If You Don’t Have Grandparents Close – Other Ways to Celebrate
- Visit an assisted living home or senior care center
- Volunteer for Meals on Wheels (Did you know that you could volunteer to do this??)
- Visit with or serve some Grand-friends in your neighborhood
For more ideas on celebrating Grandparents Day, check out our Pinterest boards for some inspiration.
How Will You Celebrate Grandparents Day?
Grandparents Day is all about connecting the generations. Learning to understand, appreciate and get to know our grandparents or grandchildren, are all important parts of passing on the legacies of love, faith, family and hope. Whether you are near or far away from your grandchildren (or grandparents), you can use this special day to connect with one another!
Grandparents Day activities are fun things that grandparents and grandchildren can do together to celebrate Grandparents Day, but they’re great for any time of year. While grandparents enjoy getting gifts, they really enjoy getting to spend time with their grandchildren.
These Grandparents Day activities can range from the simple and short to an all-day event with lots of things going on. Do as much as the kids and grandparents can handle while still taking the time to enjoy each other.
These Grandparents Day craft projects make great gifts to give but they also can be another fun activity that grandparents and grandchildren can do together.
Share a Poem
If you’re looking for a Grandparents Day activity that goes straight to the heart then you’ll want to look at these Grandparents Day poems.
You can read these poems together or the grandchild can print them out and make a Grandparents Day card out of them.
They’re a great tool for helping your child, or the grandparent, put their feelings into words on this special day.
Make a Card Together
A fun Grandparents Day activity would be to print out a Grandparents Day card and then grandparents and grandkids can decorate the card together.
When they’re finished with the activity, the grandchild can present the grandparent with the card that they made together.
Spend Time Together Coloring
Print out any of these wonderful Grandparents Day coloring pages and you’ll have an instant Grandparents Day activity.
This is a great way for grandparents and their grandchildren to spend some quality time together.
The finished coloring page can be kept and framed so the grandparent can remember the special time they spent together.
Me and My Gran Hand in Hand Activity
This is a fun activity where the grandparent and grandchild trace around their hands together.
You can take it a little bit further and use markers or paints to decorate the handprints.
This wonderful activity results in a touching keepsake for both the grandparent and the grandchild.
Handprint Gift for Grandparents from About Family Crafts
Did you know that there are several songs written especially for Grandparents Day? These fun and sentimental songs are a wonderful expression of this special day.
What a beautiful sound to hear a grandparent and their grandchildren singing together. If they’re brave enough, they could even perform it for the rest of the family during the upcoming holidays. Turn up the sound and sing along with these videos.
Grandparent Songs and Rhymes for Circle Time from Living Montessori Now
Start a Tradition Together
Grandparents Day is a great time to start a new grandparent and grandchild tradition.
From reading together to enjoying tea, these ideas are sure to give you inspiration. Read through these inspiring new traditions or think up one on your own.
Celebrating Grandparents Day with Rituals and Traditions from GaGa Sisterhood
Spend Time Together Outside
Complete a Puzzle Together
Grandchildren and grandparents can complete Grandparents Day puzzles together like word searches, crosswords, and jigsaw puzzles.
It’s a fun and easy activity to jump into that both the child and grandparent will love.
Hold a Grandparent-Grandchild Interview
Grandparents love to tell stories! In this Grandparents Day activity, grandchildren get to ask all the questions.
There are 37 questions to get you started but feel free to veer off the path a bit, and have the kids ask whatever questions spark their interest.
37 Questions to Ask Your Grandparents from Jen Nelson
Cook Together and Gift a Keepsake
Spend Grandparents Day together cooking a snack, dessert, or even a meal. It’s a fun activity and you’ll get a yummy treat afterward.
Ask afterward for the recipe and then create this lovely keepsake plate to gift so everyone can remember that special day.