gifts they might actually want

The Best Gifts for New Grandparents, According to Grandparents

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

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Along with getting married and becoming a parent, becoming a grandparent for the first time is one of life’s biggest milestones. If you know someone who’s about to welcome their first grandchild, you may have had the (correct!) instinct to look for a gift to mark the occasion. But what exactly are the best gifts for new grandparents?

When we first reported on this question two years ago, we got lots of recommendations for functional, baby-centered gifts, like toys and diaper bags, that grandparents could keep at their house. Since then, we’ve found that grandparents want gifts they’ll actually enjoy themselves. So now we’re focusing on items that celebrate the occasion: a keepsake book that both grandparents and grandkids can write in, or an excellent neck pillow we unearthed while doing our 1,000 Senior Survey. We’ve kept plenty of our past research in, which had opinions from over a dozen grandparents and thoughtful parents, but added in additional vetted picks with new grandparents and their tastes in mind.

On top of covering a diverse range of interests, our grandparents’ gift ideas below come at every price point, making it even easier to find the right thing for the new grandparents in your life. If you have a specific budget, skip ahead by using the table of contents.

Under $25

Grandparenting writer Teresa Kindred, founder of the blog NanaHood, says Lisa Carpenter’s new guided journal, 100 Things I Love About Grandma, would make “a wonderful gift” for new grandmothers to keep on hand for family visits. The book contains a number of simple but creative prompts that grandmothers and their grandchildren can complete together over time, mostly “fill in the blanks” style pages that will be easy for younger kids to get a handle on. Older grandkids could also complete the exercises solo, then gift an already completed book of love notes for their grandmothers to read and enjoy.

Another suggestion from Kindred is for “people to share their stories. Every child and grandchild has a different view of their childhood and the things they love about grandma and grandpa,” she says. To that end, she suggests giving physical notes, letters, and keepsakes. “There’s something about seeing handwritten thoughts on paper that is so special. It just takes a little time and means so much.” This “paper time capsule” would especially suit families who are separated by distance, and the back-and-forth prompts will make the pen-pal process easy for young children — perhaps with a little help from Mom or Dad.

Several of our grandparents mentioned that they were looking forward to cooking with their new grandkids when they got a little older. This (admittedly grandma-specific) cookbook is designed for just that purpose, containing kid-friendly recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. We also found a grandpa version, so he won’t feel left out.

We spoke to Kelly Walters and Judy Hall, founders of Grand Connections, an organization that encourages quality time between grandparents and grandchildren through DIY experience packs and workshops. They recommend this picture frame for holding artwork from grandkids (rather than photos). Hall, a grandmother herself, owns one and likes that it can store up to 50 pieces, comes with matting, and is a good size. For the new grandparent, you could add in handprints from their new grandchild to start their collection.

Lisa Carpenter, who runs the grandparenting blog Grandma’s Briefs, reminds us that a classic frame with a picture of the new baby could be an equally thoughtful gift. She likes this silver-plated one because it “features space for a cherished photo of the new grandchild as well as a sweet sentiment for first-time grandmas.” “Grandparents are delighted to get a special frame and an up-to-date picture,” agrees Roxy Wiley, author of the book DIY Camp Grandma. “Even though you can get it on your phone, it’s much more special to have it on the dresser.” (We found a similar frame for grandfathers too.)

Last year, I gifted my grandparents a Shutterfly customizable calendar filled with photos of them with all their grandchildren (and tried my best to stick with a theme each month). I can proudly say it’s my best gift to them yet — they both teared up and liked it so much that they asked for a second one so they could hang one in their bedroom and one in their study. While mine aren’t new grandparents, I think any grandparent would love a calendar filled with photos of their grandchildren.

According to Donne Davis, the founder of the GaGa Sisterhood (a national social network for “enthusiastic grandmas”), a journal that new grandparents can use to “write down memories and stories about themselves” and their new grandchild is another thoughtful idea. While Davis says any notebook would do, we think this well-reviewed grandparent journal, which has prompts to get thoughts flowing, is a more personal option.

Davis recommends giving new grandparents this book by author and Pulitzer Prize winner Anna Quindlen, which recounts her first few years of becoming a grandparent and the dos and don’ts she learned along the way.

DeeDee Moore, who manages the grandparenting website More Than Grand, suggests this book specifically for new grandfathers. The best seller is “full of creative and practical ideas” on engaging more with your grandchildren, says Moore. “It’s an excellent gift for those grandfathers who want more ideas to help shape their role as Grandpa or for those who need a little help to get outside their comfort zone.”

While this book won’t necessarily teach new grandparents about being new grandparents, Ted Page, the founder and publisher of storytelling blog Good Grandpa, recommends it as a way for grandparents to better understand the world their grandkids will inherit. “Being a grandpa is about the present and the future, not the past,” he explains. Historian Walter Isaacson’s book tells the story of Jennifer Doudna, a pioneering biochemist known for her work in CRISPR gene editing. “By the time I finished it, I knew that the biggest reason why I was able to get a COVID vaccine so fast was due to the work of Doudna,” says Page, who adds that the book is not just informative but fun. “It reads like a detective novel, but it’s all true and totally riveting.” For grandparents of girls in particular, he says, it could spark conversations that encourage them to pursue science when they’re older.

“Everyone over 60 should be doing yoga,” McCaslin says. “If they aren’t, explain that you want them to enjoy playing with the baby and that this beginner’s class is a gift for their knees and the soul.” This 30-day class, she says, “will increase a grandparent’s mobility, so they’ll find it easier to get down on the floor with the baby.” Each day’s video costs just less than $2 to watch, but Amazon Prime members can access them for free.

Pair the above with a set of resistance bands for more of a workout (and a gift they can unwrap). Bands were a standout in our senior survey, and these specific ones are Strategist-approved. Unlike other bands, they “do not snap easily, don’t collect dust, get sticky, or roll at the edges.”

When we spoke to Moore for the best gifts for grandfathers, she recommended a subscription to the Kinoo app. It combines video chat with developmental-learning activities for children, making it ideal for long-distance grandparents. Moore says the activities “make video chats truly fun for both grandchildren and grandparents,” adding that there are prompts to help grandparents connect with their grandkids. “As grandparents enjoy playing and watching their grandchildren learn, they can create memories and deepen bonds with grandchildren who live far away,” she says.

Under $50

“I don’t know if it’s my age, but I often forget where I left my phone in the house,” says Grandma Marina, one half of the popular Instagram account Drawings for My Grandchildren. That’s why she recommends giving this phone case that her daughter gave her, which allows her to “always have my hands free, but keeps my phone close to my body — close at hand.” She adds, “The case also has a small pocket where I can put my credit cards, cash, and my subway pass, so now I don’t have to carry a separate wallet. So practical.”

Some grandparents love picking up the check for dinners out, but Kindred suggests turning the (dining) tables every once in a while. “We have a pretty large family, and we usually foot the bill, so it’s fun to get a gift certificate to your favorite restaurant,” she says. “And destination gifts or experiences are always amazing.”

Susan McCaslin and George Corsillo (who are the parents of Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo) say hotel gift cards are a thoughtful and practical gift for new grandparents in town visiting their new grandbaby. It allows Grandma and Grandpa to make their own lodging arrangements at hotels or rental properties. “If you’re a new parent, you likely live in a small house that’s filled with baby stuff,” McCaslin explains. “You don’t relish the idea of 24 hours a day with more adults who also need attention.” So helping new grandparents find somewhere else to stay will “make their visit part family and part vacation,” she says.

Under $100

Wilson told us about this stuffed animal designed for grandparents (or any relatives) who don’t live near the newborn. The stuffed otter, she explains, comes with a removable stuffed heart “that can be kept by the grandparent” after they give their grandchild the otter. This “reminds the little ones that we are always connected to the ones we love, whether near or far away,” she adds. Also included is a picture book with a story Wilson describes as “perfect for grandchildren with grandparents who aren’t able to see them on a regular basis.”

If you know Grandma and Grandpa are planning more visits, consider a neck pillow for more comfortable travel. This one was enthusiastically recommended in our seniors survey by a respondent who was able to fly from Los Angeles to the south of France with ease. It’s compact and, more importantly, prevents lateral bending in the neck.

For a gift that can teach both grandparents and (eventually) grandkids about their family history, McCaslin suggests this virtual class from the National Genealogy Society, which teaches students how to “write their family history.” She adds that enrolling in an online class like this — or going back to school, if you will — will keep new grandparents “young, interested in, and interesting to their grandkids.”

If the new grandparents in your life already have a lot of stuff, Turner told us about this gift set they can enjoy at home without adding (too much) to their clutter. The set, she explains, “contains treats for both grandparents (sweets from Sugarfina and a nonalcoholic beverage) and the new grandkid (a Jellycat plush bunny or duckling)” as well as “a pop of confetti for fun!” Opening one up is an “unforgettable unboxing experience,” she says, in part because you can choose to include a customized note.


Grandpa Chan, Marina’s husband, says that in choosing any gift for a new grandparent, you should consider the fact that the recipient — though they may not like to admit it — is getting older. “Everything weakens with age, including teeth,” he says, something he learned after a recent trip to the dentist, “who told me that the severe pain I was experiencing could be improved by using an electric toothbrush and this water flosser to clean between my teeth.” In the first week of using them, he says, “my toothache passed,” which is why he now recommends them as gifts to new (but also any) grandparents. (If you’re wondering how to give these delicately, you could mention that Waterpik is one of Strategist’s — and experts’ — favorite brands for oral care.)

Under $200

If Grandma or Grandpa needs a new pair of comfy shoes, Hokas were a standout in our senior survey. They even got the stamp of approval from one triathlon runner we spoke to — perfect for keeping up with a new crawler.

Wiley received a Nest Hub portal device from her son, which she uses like a super high-tech digital photo frame. “You connect and are able to see the photos that your kids may take of the grandchildren, it’s an automatic feed,” she explains. “It’s on all the time, and the pictures just flow through.” She adds that it’s also nice to use the device’s large screen for video calls instead of peering at a phone display.

From $139

“A digital frame not only allows grandparents to proudly display photos of their precious babe, but makes it easy for new parents to update those photos via email or text,” explains Lisa Carpenter, who runs the grandparenting blog Grandma’s Briefs. When it comes to choosing a digital frame, two folks we talked to specifically recommend this one from Nixplay. According to Moore, the frame stands out for its ease of use: “Parents can add new photos and video clips from their phone or computer, and they instantly appear in the frame. It means my family is always just a glance away.”

Over $200

For the grandparent who loves to read, Page says a lightweight e-reader like the Kindle Oasis would make a thoughtful gift, especially for those concerned about their eyesight. He points out that the screens on “tablets, phones, and computers have LCDs that emit blue light, an intense part of the light spectrum that can damage eyes,” something “anyone north of 60 needs to be aware of.” The Kindle Oasis, on the other hand, has a display that reads like real paper and an adjustable light that can turn the screen’s shade from white to an easier-on-the-eyes amber. Plus, Page says, “It’s easy to enlarge the type.” (If you want to shop around, our technology writer Jordan McMahon wrote an exhaustive guide on every Kindle device since 2013.)

While pricier, an exercise bike was a popular wish-list item and favorite splurge in our senior survey, and it will keep new grandparents active. This Schwinn bike has multiple adjustable settings and workout programs for a customized ride, and it displays your ride history.

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The Best Gifts for New Grandparents