Your grandparents deserve special recognition as senior members of your immediate family. Did you know there’s a day set aside each year to remind you to honor your grandparents? It’s Grandparents Day.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What is National Grandparents Day in the U.S.?
- When is Grandparents Day?
- How to Celebrate Your Grandparents on Grandparents Day
We’ll discuss what and when it is and offer ways to celebrate this special day with your family members.
What is National Grandparents Day in the U.S.?
National Grandparents Day is celebrated annually in the United States. It was formed by a 1978 proclamation by former President Jimmy Carter.
West Virginia native Marian McQuade started the campaign to establish a day to honor grandparents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. She received a phone call from the White House when the proclamation became official. McQuade had 43 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren when she died.
When is Grandparents Day?
The presidential proclamation of 1978 designated the first Sunday after Labor Day as Grandparents Day. Here are the specific dates for Grandparents Day from 2021 to 2024.
- 2021: Sunday, September 12
- 2022: Sunday, September 11
- 2023: Sunday, September 10
- 2024: Sunday, September 8
How to Celebrate Your Grandparents on Grandparents Day
Do you want to honor your grandparents on their special holiday in September? There are a lot of things you can do to make their day special, including buying them a gift. (Here are some gift ideas for older people.) You could send a card, call them — but realize that your grandparents probably crave your presence more than anything.
Here are some ideas you can use to celebrate your grandparents.
1. Visit your grandparents
We know that merely suggesting that you see your grandparents is not the reason you visited this website. You want to learn about a creative gift that you can give or an activity that you could do together.
While we will provide you with creative ideas later in the article, we want to emphasize that more than anything else, your grandparents probably want you to themselves. They want you to put aside your work, your kids’ activities, and your tee time to have a face-to-face visit with them. They want you to listen to their stories and tell them about your life.
You will regret not spending time with them when you can’t do it anymore. If it’s possible, visit your grandparents on this special day.
2. Work on your family tree with your grandparents
Some people feel awkward talking with members of the older generation. You may not look forward to the visits with your grandparents because you aren’t sure what to do or what to say.
If this is the case, why not set aside that particular Sunday in September to organize your family tree with your grandma and grandpa? Ask others in your family to share their research and start from there.
Ask your grandparents to share stories and life details and record the information.
Look through family photos and ask your grandparents to identify the people in the pictures. Instead of writing the names of the people on the back of the photograph in ink, research a way to mark the photos so you don’t damage them in the process.
3. Give your grandparents a gift
Think carefully before choosing a gift for your grandparents.
First, if your grandparent lives in a nursing home, research gifts that are appropriate there. Your grandparents may have little storage space and not a lot of room to display collectibles. It may be a good idea to call ahead and ask the staff for gift ideas for a nursing home resident.
Second, even if your grandparents enjoy excellent health and live on their own, they may be at the point in their life when they want to downsize. They may not wish for more items to clutter an already-full home. If this describes your grandparents, consider giving them a gift card or an experience instead.
Next, take into consideration any dietary restrictions your grandparents follow before giving a food-related gift. Is your loved one diabetic or on dialysis? Does he or she suffer from diverticulitis or have problems chewing? Make sure your grandparents are able to enjoy the food you offer.
Finally, if you decide to give your grandparents a clothing item, make sure they have the dexterity to be able to put the item on themselves. Some older adults carefully choose the items in their wardrobe because they’re easy to get on and off.
4. Complete a home project for your grandparents
Your grandparents may have a difficult time maintaining their house. Why not celebrate Grandparents Day by completing a project for them? Ask them about projects that need to be done. Give them time to think about it before showing up to complete the work.
Perhaps they need to dispose of items, such as broken electronics or old paint cans. Maybe they need help retrieving items out of the attic or off of high shelves. Maybe they have home repairs that have been ignored or wish to have a room painted.
You may need to be tactful here. You wouldn’t want someone to enter your home and offer to haul out your “old junk” or imply that you have a dirty or dated house. Just because your grandparents are older than you doesn’t mean that they aren’t sensitive about where they live.
5. Complete a landscaping or outdoor project for your grandparents
In most parts of the country, Grandparents Day occurs at a time when people begin to think of fall and winter. Ask your grandparents if you can assist them with outdoor projects.
You may be asked to bring in outdoor plants for the winter or help harvest items from the garden. Perhaps you can trim trees or treat them for invasive insects. Maybe you can trim bushes or simply pick up twigs.
Your grandparent may love digging in the dirt, so why not bring a few different fall plants and work together to create a planter of fall flowers? Bring another planter for yourself and work together on the project.
6. Cook with your grandparents
Does your family have a particular dish or recipe that it reserves for special occasions? Has the recipe been passed down for generations? Why not spend Grandparents Day learning the techniques and specific ingredients that make this dish so special?
Your grandparents will be thrilled that you are interested in carrying on the traditions that go back generations.
7. Take your grandparents out for an activity or meal
Your grandparents may not leave their home very often. They may not feel as comfortable driving or may be on a fixed income that keeps them from spending money on extravagant activities.
If your grandparents are mobile, take them to a park or museum. Take them out for brunch or an early dinner. They may want to go on a drive in the “old neighborhood” and tell you stories about their past neighbors and friends.
Ask your grandparents if there are any bucket list items they would like to complete. Perhaps your grandma has never had a professional manicure. Maybe your grandpa has always wanted to go to visit Yankee Stadium. You may be able to assist your grandparents to fulfill a lifelong wish. How amazing would that feel?
Read our guide on Grandparents Day activities for more ideas.
As you visit your grandparents, you may want to ask if they have begun end-of-life planning. This conversation should be approached delicately, but it shouldn’t be avoided. Tell your grandparents that you want to fulfill their wishes, but to do so, you need to know what they are.
Have those difficult conversations with your grandparents and your parents. Think about what kind of funeral you want for yourself. We’re all going to die someday. Why not face this knowledge head-on and prepare for it?
- “National Grandparents Day.” United States Census Bureau. 8 September 2019. www.census.gov/newsroom/stories/2019/grandparents-day.html