It can be a tricky business buying gifts for grandparents. Perhaps they already own everything they want or need and may even tell you that they don’t want you to make a fuss – a card will do.
Even so, that doesn’t mean you have to abide by their wishes – it’s their birthday after all and the perfect excuse to spoil them. But thinking of a present, or what else you can do for them on their special day, will take some extra effort and imagination. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Disclosure: Article provided by Hawkin’s Bazaar.
1. All aboard
You could organise a nostalgic day out. Take them back to their favourite childhood place, with the sights and sounds of the grand age of steam on a vintage train ride, like North Norfolk’s Poppy Line, or Devon’s Dartmouth steamer.
Or, visit a Victorian seaside town like Tynemouth, Porthmadog or Robin Hood’s Bay for ice creams on the promenade, a walk along the beach and fish and chips as the sun goes down over the waves.
If the beach doesn’t appeal, hunt for a pretty cottage, bunkhouse or historic landmark to rent. National Trust and the Landmark Trust have places available all over the country. Whisk them off to a traditional fisherman’s cottage, a clock tower overlooking an estuary or let them spend a week living the life of a Lord and Lady in the wing of a cliff top castle.
2. Tech “no” fun
Don’t assume for a moment that all golden oldies are technophobes. Many are certainly au fait and highly adept at browsing the web and using social media. One or two even call themselves “silver surfers”!
So why not try putting their tech skills to the test, or upping their game, by getting them a fun, interactive gadget? Remember to set aside some time to show them the ropes too, and stay patient if they don’t get it right first time: a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, they may have taught you how to use a spoon.
Take your granddad to the future (or over the greenhouse) with the X5HC Drone with integrated camera for example. Just be sure to check out the rules and regs before letting him loose with it. If you don’t think a drone would tickle his fancy, there’s no shortage of other gadgets to choose from.
3. Out of this world
Get your gran exploring other worlds from her own front room with a VR (Virtual Reality) headset. Again, the woman who may have once taught you how to tie your laces or write your name with a crayon, might now need a little help getting used to how it all works, but the result will be fantastic.
There are thousands of experiences to be had including roller coasters, swimming under the sea and Google street view maps, so your gadget-owning gran can visit nearly anywhere in the world, without leaving her armchair.
4. Escape the room
Crosswords and jigsaw puzzles may be stereotypical armchair activities for elderly relatives, but with the average age of a first-time grandparent in the UK just 50, maybe yours are looking for something more active.
Motorised skateboards are probably out, but “escape the room” games have been popping up all over the country and are perfect for limbering up body and brain. You’re all herded into a room. The door’s bolted shut. You solve puzzles to spring the locks. Works much like the Crystal Maze show from the 90s. In fact, if you’re in London or Manchester you can even take part in a replica Crystal Maze game.
5. One more please
Does your granddad have a favourite tipple and fireside table at the Dog & Duck? If so, a backstage brewery tour could make a perfect birthday treat. There are hundreds of craft brewers across the country, most of which are only too happy to show you what’s happening behind the scenes.
The North Downs in Surrey are well known for their vineyards; High Clandon even makes champagne if your grandparents have expensive tastes. If Scotland’s too much of a hike, the St George’s Distillery in Norfolk will run you through the whisky making process.
For the more traditional beer lover, brewers across the country will show you their wares, from Southwold’s ale giant, Adnams, to artisan Welsh microbrewery, Purple Moose. Hackney’s London Fields Brewery will even give your granddad the chance to make his own. There’ll be no stopping him when he gets home.
6. Enjoy the ride
And what about a canal boat break? The days of dusty hulks shunting tons of coal across the country are long gone, but the waterways are still there and the boats that use them let you cruise in comfort. Spend a couple of leisurely days navigating your way from the industrial heartland of Birmingham down to London, via the Grand Union Canal. Or if you’re feeling more adventurous (and fit), try tackling Caen Hill locks in Devises. All 29 of them. Should have your gramps mopping his brow, while he watches you do all the work.
Whether your grandparents are the active type, or more laid back, there’s no shortage of gifts to give them on their special day – but you might need to think a bit harder about it that’s all.
They’ve probably “been there, done it, bought the t-shirt” before you were no higher than a grasshopper. Ultimately, it probably won’t matter too much what you get them, they’ll still love you for the effort you put in, but splash the cash if you can; they definitely deserve it.
Images: Creative Commons