A special piece of jewelry? Check. Money for college? Check. You have probably already thought of saving both of these things for your grandchildren. But whether you already have grandkids, or you are a grandparent-to-be, there are other items that can help kids learn more about you, themselves, and their family. (You can encourage your grown kids to save these items too, if they haven’t thought of it already.)
1. A newspaper or magazine from the day your grandchild was born
Everyone loves to see what was happening in the world the day they were born. If you can’t find something from the exact day, save a newspaper or magazine from the year that your grandchild was born. Not only will kids love seeing what was happening in the world, but in this digital age, the fact that the newspaper or magazine is made of paper, will blow kids’ minds when you show it to them.
2. Old documents
Documents like your wedding license, military discharge papers, and school report cards all fascinate kids and help them learn more about who you were before you were their grandparent. These documents are also a great way to start telling stories of what the world was like when you were growing up.
3. A family recipe
Every family has their favorite meals, and many family memories are created sitting around the dining table. You don’t need to save every recipe you’ve ever made—just one or two will do. But make sure they’re recipes for dishes that you and your grandkids have shared or made together. If the recipes were passed down to you from your mother or father, note that on the recipes, and if there are family stories behind the recipes, make sure to write those down, too.
4. A picture of you holding your grandbaby
Most photos are digital now, but make a print of your favorite digital photo of you and your grandchild from when they were born, and frame it. You can keep the photo to show them when they visit you, or you can give it to them as a gift. The photo let’s them know how much you loved them from the minute they arrived, and it is something that as they grow up, they can always turn back to.
5. A trendy piece of clothing
If you’ve held onto an item of clothing you loved when you were younger—a poodle skirt from the 50s, a maxi-dress from the 60s, a headband from the 70s, costume jewelry from the 80s—keep saving it. Not only could it eventually be worth a little money, but all trends come back in one way or another, and your grandkids just might want to wear the item someday. At the very least, kids will love seeing what was “in” when you were younger and they’ll love playing dress up with the items.
6. Your family history
Perhaps there is no greater gift to give grandkids then a written account of where they are from. Facts and details are often lost when relatives die, so take some time to sketch out a family tree, gather old photos, and write down your childhood and family memories. Go as far back as you can in your family history. Great places to start your research are at Ancestry.com, Archives.gov, and FamilySearch.org.
7. Something meaningful to you
Whether it’s your spelling bee medal from second grade, a recording of your favorite album of all time, or a ticket stub from your first Bruce Springsteen concert, this item doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should have a meaningful story behind it. Kids will love hearing why the item is important to you, and if it’s music you save, they’ll get a kick out of hearing who your rocked out to. (If you choose to save music, make sure you store it digitally, so kids will be able to listen to it. Who knows where CDs will be in 10 years!)
8. Your favorite book as a child
Reading is one of the most important activities for children’s brain development. Sharing your copy or buying a copy of your favorite childhood book and giving it to your grandchild can help encourage them to read. It also gives you and your grandchild something to talk about and share. Better than just giving them the book, set aside time to read it out loud with them, or read it together and start your own little book club.
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