27 Awesome Grandparents Day Activities That Will Connect Your Family

Woman whispering in man's ear square photo - Grandparents Day activities - Adventures in NanaLand

Woman whispering to man - Grandparents Day activities - Adventures in NanaLand

27 Awesome Grandparents Day Activities That Will Connect Your Family

Some people think that Grandparents Day is just another made-up holiday to sell “stuff” for commercial gain. (See below about what Grandparents Day is NOT.) However, there was a deeper motivation. It is a day for family and awesome Grandparents Day activities. It’s a day for celebrating the lives of those who connect us to our past.

What Exactly IS Grandparents Day?

Grandparents Day is a day to recognize and honor grandparents and the role they play in our lives. Let me give you a bit of history on how this came about.

Creating a national holiday was spearheaded by Marian McQuade. Like anything else worth doing, it took a lot of time and effort to bring about.

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter set the date and declared it an official national holiday! Geez, it makes me tired just thinking about how much work it must have taken to get this through all the red tape in Washington D.C.!! I believe the exact words were . . . “after many years, much persuasion, and unending persistence”. . .oh my! So, Thank You, Marian!

After the US created a special holiday just for grandparents, there were other countries around the world that jumped on board with creating their own Grandparents Day celebrations. Like the US, each uses the day to honor grandparents and participate in Grandparents Day activities.

When and Why Do We Celebrate Grandparents Day?

President Carter proclaimed the first Sunday after Labor Day in September to be set aside as National Grandparents Day. It’s a great time of year to engage in lots of Grandparents Day activities.

Why September? September was chosen to signify the “autumn” years of life. I kind of like that thought. For the most part, school is back in session and everyone is falling back into their routines. Fall is such a fun time of year anyway. Hey, it’s better than the “winter” of life, right?

In the proclamation that President Carter set forth, it describes the most beautiful description of grandparents and what we can do and be to the generations that come after us.

Profile of older couple - Grandparents Day activities - Adventures in NanaLand

Here’s a snippet from that proclamation:

“Grandparents are our continuing tie to the near-past, to the events and beliefs and experiences that so strongly affect our lives and the world around us. Whether they are our own or surrogate grandparents who fill some of the gaps in our mobile society, our senior generation also provides our society a link to our national heritage and traditions.

We all know grandparents whose values transcend passing fads and pressures, and who possess the wisdom of distilled pain and joy. Because they are usually free to love and guide and befriend the young without having to take daily responsibility for them, they can often reach out past pride and fear of failure and close the space between generations.”

I think that is so beautiful!! My favorite part is “whose values transcend passing fads and pressures.” If we could just get our grandkids to understand that we have been there and done that! Golly! If only we could have helped our KIDS understand that!

Basically, there are 3 purposes to have a National Grandparents Day. They are to:

  1. Honor grandparents.
  2. Give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children.
  3. Help children become aware of the strength, information, and guidance older people can offer.

I have to say, now that I’m a grandparent, I’m all for this!! After all, I like having two days a year when people think I’m special. Ha ha!

Mrs. McQuade wanted Grandparents Day to be a celebration involving the whole family. In a sense, she wanted a day to connect generations. This should be a day not only to honor grandparents but to allow grandparents a chance to pass down their legacy and show love for those who will follow.

What Grandparents Day is NOT

Let’s talk just briefly about what Grandparents Day is NOT. Mrs. McQuade made it very clear that it was not invented as a commercialized day to spend money on flowers, cards and gifts. It was never meant to be a day to replace spending time together or sharing memories with a “token” of appreciation. (This may be why Grandparents Day does not get a lot of recognition, because if businesses can’t “capitalize” on a holiday, they tend to skip over it.)

Another interesting tidbit is that there is no apostrophe in the holiday name. Grandparents Day is not a holiday that “belongs” to grandparents but just a special day for each generation to celebrate the wonderfulness of grandparents! (Yes, I think I just made up a word; although, Microsoft Word didn’t fight me on it. Hmm. . .maybe it IS a real word.)

Grandmother and granddaughter blowing out candles that look like fireworks - Grandparents Day activities - Adventures in NanaLand

27 Awesome Grandparents Day Activities

To Parents and Grandkids:

Whether your grandparents live close by or you are separated by a long distance or even if your grandparents have passed on, we have some awesome Grandparents Day activities for your family. Yes, there is the typical “give them a gift” thing. But, consider some Grandparents Day activities that will help you enhance your relationship with them.

To Grandparents:

Don’t sit back and wait for your children or grandchildren to initiate the celebration. Take charge and make the day something that you will remember as well as they will. Consider some of the activities below to do with your grandchildren. Many of them can be done in person or from a distance.

Grandparents Day Activities Whether You Are Near or Far

  1. Look at pics and tell stories
  2. Share a favorite memory from when you were their exact age (if you can remember!)
  3. Show a special object and tell the story behind it. Or gather a whole box of heirlooms and let the grandchildren take them out one by one while you talk about those things.
  4. Quote a favorite bible verse, and tell how it has affected your life
  5. Do a comparison about your favorites and your grandchild’s favorites – song, movie, after school activity, etc. (We thought you might like a printable to go with this activity. Just click on the link below the picture!)Now and Then Game - Adventures in NanaLand

    Download Your FREE “Now & Then” Game Here!

  6. Talk about the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and why.
  7. Go to your favorite dessert place and share a treat with your grandkids
  8. If possible, go to a childhood home (or another special place) and take pictures.
  9. Tell a story about the greatest natural disaster that you’ve ever witnessed.
  10. Talk about a day when a national tragedy struck. Tell where you were, how you felt, and how it has changed your life.
  11. Have your grandchild interview you on video. Give them a make-shift microphone.
  12. Pull out a picture of your wedding day and talk about that day or the proposal.  If you and your spouse are both together and still alive, talk about this together on video. Make sure you include details about how you each felt.
  13. Find a recording of one of your favorite songs from your childhood and share it with your grandchildren.
  14. If you have an old school yearbook, pull it out and go through it with your grandchild.  While you’re at it, reconnect with an old school friend via Facebook.
  15. Did you ever get in trouble as a kid?  Share a time where you learned your biggest lesson.  (Then, of course, tell the grandkids not to repeat that mistake. 😉)
  16. Share a funny memory with your grandkids that involves their parents.
  17. Tell your favorite joke from when you were a kid.Child cracking an egg in to a glass bowl - Grandparents Day activities - Adventures in NanaLand
  18. Make your favorite food together. Pass down a family recipe.
  19. Teach your grandkids something about your favorite hobby.
  20. Share something spiritual with your grandkids.

Grandparents Day Activities If Grandparents Have Passed Away

  1. Visit the cemetery
  2. Have a memory night – share memories of that person, have their favorite meal, or go to their favorite restaurant
  3. Have a candlelight ceremony
  4. Read parts of a journal they left or get out a momento that reminds you of the person.

If You Don’t Have Grandparents Close – Other Ways to Celebrate

  1. Visit an assisted living home or senior care center
  2. Volunteer for Meals on Wheels (Did you know that you could volunteer to do this??)
  3. Visit with or serve some Grand-friends in your neighborhood

For more ideas on celebrating Grandparents Day, check out our Pinterest boards for some inspiration.

Grandparents Day board

DIY Gifts for Grandparents board

How Will You Celebrate Grandparents Day?

Grandparents Day is all about connecting the generations. Learning to understand, appreciate and get to know our grandparents or grandchildren, are all important parts of passing on the legacies of love, faith, family and hope. Whether you are near or far away from your grandchildren (or grandparents), you can use this special day to connect with one another!

Cookies & Milk for Everyone!

Nana Jill Signature with yellow flower


Do you want to record your life story but don’t know where to start?
Would you like to leave your legacy?


3 thoughts on “27 Awesome Grandparents Day Activities That Will Connect Your Family”

  1. Sofia Bautista

    Do you think you can post some activities for grandparents day 2020?

  2. Hi Jill,
    Your website is literally an answer to prayer for me! I have 5 grandchildren ages 15,14,12, 8 and 6. From the time they were toddlers, we’ve had lots of sleepovers, and done tons of activities from coloring, playing games to building forts in their rooms and camping out overnight. Being a Nana has brought more joy in my life than I can say. It is a challenge now with the older ones, I feel like even at these preteen and early teen ages the gap between our generations is widening so quickly, and you’re right, the technology today plays a big part! I was praying earlier tonight that I would find a place online that I could be inspired by, with new things to do with my “ littles” and now my not so littles, and all I did was google “things to do for grandparents of preteens and teens”, and there you were!
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the activities that I’ve never done before, games like “Ubongo” and “Mastermind” that I never knew about, that I know they would love. I downloaded the 100 activities guide and my head is spinning with new inspiration. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your thoughts and ideas, at a time when so much in this world is eating up what time we have left to share with our grands. I am 65 and I feel that every day is another chance to make it count.
    So here’s to making it count, from one lovable Nana to another! Many blessings to you and your precious family!

    1. Oh Marge! Thank you! I am so glad to hear about all the fun things you do with your grandchildren. They are very blessed to have you in their lives. I’m sure that even though you feel that the gap is widening, they still feel your influence.

      As I always tell people, we are going to have to meet them on their own “turf” these days. For most of us, that means sometimes embracing technology that we are not always comfortable with. But. . .don’t forget that they need to unplug sometimes and meet you on your turf too. We just need to be creative in getting them to do so.

      I’m really happy that you found some new things to do with your kiddos. And yes! Here’s to making everyday count!

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