Although I didn't believe it for one second as a child, it's true that the older we get the less we need or want. That's why giving meaningful gifts to your children's grandparents (i.e. your parents and in-laws) can be such a tall order. A Snuggie or a "World's Best Grandma" sweater just won't cut it. Nor will slippers, bathrobes and other gifts that imply that life has slowed down so much they can barely make it out of bed. Instead, here are some gift ideas I think they'll truly appreciate without the cheese factor.
Commission a portrait. This might sound fancy and unaffordable, but it's not just for kings and queens. Look for artists (check art schools) in your city or town who specialize in portraiture or look online for artists who work from photographs (even better for young, squirmy children or babies). Etsy, of course, is a great place to start your search. One of my favorites is Merrilee of Tuesday Mourning (top photo). I'm also a big fan of artist Lisa Golightly who offers many styles of portraiture at Kiki & Polly from simple sketches to detailed paintings.
Commission a photo shoot. If your photo collection consists mainly of iPhone photos, maybe it's time to call in a professional. If the grandparent lives nearby invite them to be a part of the shoot. If they don't, think of ways to include them - have your child wear something made or given by the grandparent or holding a favorite toy or stuffed animal gifted to them.
Photo calendars. These are getting better looking each time I check. I like the selection at Minted whose designs run from very modern to modern with a traditional touch (or is that traditional with a modern touch?)
One big, gorgeous photo. If you have a photo you know a grandparent loves, give them a really nice version of it. Have it enlarged (I use Adorama Pix) and framed or mounted onto panels with a service like Plywerk or fotoflot.
Photo books. You don't have to be a graphic designer to create an attractive photo book. Keep it simple and just use your best photos or add anecdotes or include some of your children's artwork. I like the tools at Blurb and there are a ton of others to check out including Shutterfly, Picaboo and Apple/iPhoto for Mac users.
Custom silhouettes. Silhouettes bridge the gap between traditional and modern making them a great gift for anyone. You could try making your own (find a 30 minutes or less tutorial here) or hire someone on Etsy to take on the job (like seller Luv In Every Minute).
Create or Buy a Family Tree. We often think of doing this for ourselves, but especially as the branches are expanding grandparents would appreciate seeing the family represented in artwork. You could make your own or purchase one. I like the photo family trees at Famille Summerbelle as well as the variety of super modern versions at My Tree and Me.
What grandparents really want, of course, is time. Time with you, time with their grandkids. If they live nearby, share an experience with them like tickets for everyone to a show or event. Or pay extra to include them in your family museum memberships. For grandparents who are more than just over the river and through the wood, pledge to make an extra visit this year or surprise them with a plane ticket. If they're online, set them up with a web cam and walk them through using Skype.
Do you have a great idea for a gift for grandparents that will truly be appreciated? Share it in the comments!