How to Celebrate Grandparents Day With Your Family

Playful grandfather and granddaughter on swing at playground laughing together
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If your children have loving grandparents in their lives, you know how special and important these intergenerational relationships can be. While you may want to celebrate your grandparents every day of the year, it can be especially nice to celebrate on Grandparents Day, a holiday dedicated to showing appreciation to the elders who love our children. 

Grandparents are more than just fun caretakers who let your kids watch extra TV and eat dessert before dinner. They can play an important role in raising children. In fact, one study found that kids with involved grandparents had fewer emotional problems or behavior issues.

Ahead, learn more about the origin of Grandparents Day, why it's important, and how you can honor the special grandparents in your lives as well.

What Is Grandparents Day?

Grandparents Day celebrates grandparents, great-grandparents, step-grandparents or any other adults in the older generation that play an important role in children’s lives. 

The idea for Grandparents Day came from Marian McQuade, an elder advocate. With 43 grandchildren of her own, McQuade knew a lot about what it meant to be a grandparent.

McQuade wanted children to develop an appreciation for the older generation and learn to foster these relationships. She campaigned to put Grandparents Day on the calendar for eight years. Her first success was in 1973 when, due to her efforts, the day was observed in her home state of West Virginia.

In 1978, McQuade's continuous work paid off. President Jimmy Carter signed a proclamation stating that Grandparents Day should be observed each year.

When Is It Celebrated?

Grandparents Day is celebrated the Sunday after Labor Day in the United States. It is considered an observance, rather than a public holiday. 

Why Is It Celebrated?

As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, and grandparents often play a big part in that. Whether it’s making meals in those early days after their adult children become new parents, picking the grandkids up from school, or creating special memories at the holidays, there are many ways that grandparents can make a difference in their children’s and grandchildren’s lives.

According to a study from the University of Oxford, children with involved grandparents were found to be more resilient. When these children faced life challenges such as their parents divorcing, they were better able to cope. The study found that grandparents were often more available to listen to children and help them work through problems, presumably because they were no longer working.

Family-Friendly Ways to Celebrate Grandparents’ Day

There are endless ways to show grandparents how much you appreciate them. Here are a few ideas to celebrate the grandparent figures in your life.

Adopt a Grandparent

There are many elderly folks out there who don’t have any grandchildren or extended family to visit them, which can result in loneliness or isolation. Both of these things have been linked with higher rates of dementia and earlier death.

Consider visiting with an older adult in your community and keep them company. You can call up an assisted living center in your area if you don’t know any senior citizens personally. They will most likely welcome your presence.

Write an Appreciation Poem

We know how much we appreciate grandparents, but it never hurts to articulate it. Give your kids some sentence starters to help them write appreciation poems for their grandparents. Write the poems on a card or frame them.

Here’s an example:

The important thing about my grandparent is _____.

They are _____.

They like ______.

They don’t like ______.

They sometimes ______.

They always _____.

But the important thing about my grandparent is _____(same as first line).

Plan a Game Night

Playing board games as a family is a fun way for multiple generations to bond. Ideas for games include Pictionary, Uno, Monopoly, or Yahtzee. If you have young children, consider teaming them up with their grandparents if the game is difficult for them to play on their own. Pairing up with the grandkids provides another way to build inter-generational relationships.

Have the Kids Made Dinner

Grandparents will love a meal planned and prepared by their grandchildren. For this project, it's best to give your kids as much responsibility as is appropriate for their age. Help them plan and design a paper menu to showcase what will be served. They can make a grocery list and pick the ingredients they need at the store.

Kids of all ages can do some level of food prep. Older kids can even do most or all of the cooking, depending upon your judgment.

Do Activities Over FaceTime or Zoom

If it's not possible to get together in person with the grandparents, consider hanging out over video chat. Being able to see how their grandchildren have grown and sharing smiles on screen almost always beats a phone call.

Keep everyone engaged in the call by doing some kind of structured activity. Play a game like Pictionary, or prepare and eat dinner "together."

Plan a Family Picnic

If the weather is nice enough, head to a park or beach with a basket of food to enjoy together. Spending time outdoors can be enjoyable for the older folks, who may like the fresh air and view, while the little ones can run and explore as needed.

More agile grandparents can pick flowers or play with their grandchildren, while those less able to move around can set up a chair by the food. This gives them a chance to sit back and watch the kids play while also being able to interact when it's time to chow down.

A Word From Verywell

Grandparents Day is a special day to honor older generations for their contributions to the children in your family. Kids benefit from having strong relationships with their grandparents. Grandparents benefit too because it can assuage their loneliness, making them happier and healthier.

Some grandparents take on childcare duties or support parents in other ways. Celebrate the grandparents in your life by spending time with them or doing something nice for them, like cooking dinner. Consider also going to visit the elderly who are without family to keep them company on this day.

6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Tan JP, Buchanan A, Flouri E, Attar-Schwartz S, Griggs J. Filling the parenting gap? Grandparent involvement with U.K. AdolescentsJournal of Family Issues. 2010;31(7):992-1015. doi:10.1177/0192513X09360499

  2. Legacy Project. History of Grandparents' Day.

  3. Almanac. Grandparents Day 2022.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions.

  5. Teachers Pay Teachers. The Important Thing About My Mom: A Mother's Day Poem Written By Your Students.

  6. Zhang F, Zhou J, Salvendy G. Intergenerational play between young people and old family members: patterns, benefits, and challenges. Human Aspects of IT for the Aged Population. Acceptance, Communication, and Participation. 2018;10926(1):581-593. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-92034-4_44

By Elisa Cinelli
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR and Scary Mommy, among others.

Originally written by Susan Adcox

Susan Adcox is a writer covering grandparenting and author of Stories From My Grandparent: An Heirloom Journal for Your Grandchild.

Learn about our editorial process