Imaginative Gifts to Give the Grandkids — December 2023

By Carolyn Worthington

If you are a new grandparent like me or even a seasoned grandma or grandpa, as you are shopping for gifts, you are probably amazed at how stuff for kids has changed since your children were youngsters.

It wasn’t that long ago, back in the ‘80s, when kids didn’t have their noses on cell phones. Little did they know what was to come for them as teenagers. However, many were hooked on playing Super Mario Bros. on their Nintendo Entertainment System, putting life into their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures, hugging a Cabbage Patch Kids Doll, craning their necks over their Game Boy, or driving Power Wheels around.

The 90s brought in Beanie Babies, Nintendo 64, Transformers, the games Mouse Trap and Hungry Hungry Hippos, and who could forget the Super Soaker.

Some of the toys from back then are still going strong. Why, Barbie has a new life! She even has her own TIME Magazine special edition.

Today, as a doting grandparent, you might wonder what to give to the newest generation that will keep them away (for a little while) from screen time.

If you resisted Nintendo for your own kids (and later likely caved as we did) and don’t want to promote hand-held devices just yet, here are some ideas for you to give:

Gift Ideas 2023 and Beyond


1. “The Boy Who Said Baa” Book

I love this book! And not just because I have admired the author’s special talent as a writer for many years. It’s really good!

The Boy Who Said Baa” is the story of a little boy with a one-word vocabulary. His parents are concerned, and mean people make fun of him, but he’s not quite ready to speak more words. Then Christmas arrives, and when his Nativity play dissolves into chaos, he saves the day with his one word and makes a joyful noise heard around the world.

Written in humorous verse by Judy Dryden, “The Boy Who Said Baa” is a sweet story of personal triumph, inspiring not only to children with delayed speech issues but any child struggling with feeling “different.”

It’s fun to read out loud, and the little ones will enjoy hearing you rhyme as you tell the story and will be engulfed with the charming illustrations by acclaimed British artist Rosie Brooks 

Available in hardcover ($15.99) and paperback ($8.99) through and bookstores nationwide.

tummy time gift

2. Baby Einstein Glow & Discover Light Bar Activity Station

OK, so this one falls slightly under the technology category … uses 3 AA batteries.

However, the Baby Einstein (aren’t they all?) activity station is perfect for what is now called “tummy time,” or seated play.

The baby can press buttons or spin the rattle drum with the reward of lights, colors, animal names, and sounds. A language switch allows content in English, French, or Spanish. Perfect for three months to three years old. $13.19 at Target.

3. Custom Illustrated and Framed Poem for a Grandchild

When my grandchild was born, I wanted to give something meaningful rather than choosing something from a baby registry that is so common today.

Back in the day, to commemorate the arrival of our son, an artist friend gave us a special gift of a framed drawing of her illustrations. The watercolor piece was a poem surrounded by illustrations of a little boy in activities that he might try like his parents did … cycling, horses, hiking.

I love the piece and wanted similar work done for my grandchild. The original artist had sadly passed away.

illustrated poem gift

Through the website Fivrr, however, I found the talented Sommer Buyante, who specializes in children’s illustrations. I chose the poem, and she created a custom border filled with whimsical drawings I suggested including their black dog. I had it printed on German etching paper and framed locally with mat colors to match the nursery.

Although it’s unlikely Sommer can do a custom illustration before this holiday, I highly recommend Sommer Buyante for future custom illustration projects such as this and more. See her contact info here: Sommer B | Profile | Fiverr

building block gift

4. Melissa and Doug Toys

Melissa and Doug Toys are renowned for their timeless toy line, which is primarily made of wood. The 35-year-old company, based in Wilton, CT, has a mission “to provide a launch pad to ignite imagination and a sense of wonder in all children so they can discover themselves, their passions, and their purpose.”

Choose an old favorite like 100 Piece Wood Block Set perfect for building, knocking down and building again.

sound puzzle gift

A fun one for animal lovers is Melissa and Doug Farm Animals Sound Puzzle, available at Amazon for 10.99

rattle sock gift

5. Rattle Socks

Not sure if this one will drive your son or daughter as new parents crazy, but babies appear to love these Wrist Rattles Foot Finder Rattle Sock Toy. What a clever idea?

Babies apparently find their feet from 4 to 8 months. Yup, humans start putting their foot in their mouths early on.

The bright, colorful rattle socks will engage the baby in searching for its feet through all of the senses … sight, touch, and sound.

Whatever the age you are shopping for, there are lots of ideas to encourage learning and developing imagination.  These are a few suggestions that we love!

Happy shopping!

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