By Susan Ayers Walker
- Grandparent Talk uses a deck of question cards to stimulate social interaction and spontaneous discussion between grandparents and the youngsters who don’t necessarily recognize the store of knowledge their grandparents hold (and often don’t know how to ask the right questions to start a conversation with them). Grandparent Talk is the perfect door-opener to build a bridge between generations. Carefully chosen questions — such as, “Have you ever faced a bully?” — are displayed on the collection of cards in the game deck.
- Shutterly.comoffers a variety of practical gifts that you can design yourself and order quickly for the holidays. Upload some of your favorite digital photos or put your favorite faces on coffee mugs, photo magnets for the fridge door, or a photo keychain. How about a refrigerator magnet, a 5-by-7-inch brag book for Grandma, or a deck of playing cards featuring a photo of Grandpa’s favorite pet?
- Bananagrams: Word games like Scrabble or Boggle are fun for all generations — and they’re great exercise for the brain. Just as in Boggle, players of Bananagrams make words, and as in Scrabble, they create crosswords. And they need to work as fast as they can, until someone yells, “Bananas!” No pencil, no paper, no bulky board required. Each Bananagrams game includes 144 letter tiles zipped into a bright yellow, banana-shaped bag that’s easy to store and pull out when guests visit or the family gathers — or to use at the kitchen table for a solo game with a cup of coffee on a rainy afternoon.
- The LifeBio Memory Journal is especially suited to an older person who enjoys writing. This lovely gift is a book of creative, memory-jogging questions about life, with sufficient space after each question to capture handwritten answers. It creates a wonderful opportunity for a grandparent to pass on stories and wisdom to the next few generations.
The journal asks more than 250 questions, such as, “How would you describe your mother to someone who has never met her?” Or “What skills did you inherit from your parents?”. The resulting answers can be transferred to an online LifeBio journal and merged with scanned pictures to become a hardbound LifeBio book that can be copied multiple times and given to family members.
- TV Ears For someone whose hearing isn’t what it used to be, this portable listening system can make an audible difference. This wireless headset system enhances the sounds and voices from TV (it works with the latest plasma and LCD flat screens), and it’s flexible enough to be used as a wired headset for an iPod, computer, or other music and electronic device.
The TV Ears Professional model clarifies television dialog; it also has an automatic Commercial Control that caps loud commercials so the listener doesn’t get an unexpected blast of volume. In addition, it amplifies cell phones, home phones, and even voices during one-on-one conversations.
- Coupon Book: For their grandparents, kids can create a colorful coupon book decorated with their favorite digital pictures. What to include? How about unique services they can provide for a grandparent, such as several car washes (always appreciated by an older driver) or perhaps two hours of yard- or housework (raking leaves in the fall, shoveling snow in the winter, or washing windows at any time of year). Other coupon items might include climbing a ladder to change light bulbs, installing new smoke alarm batteries, or dogsitting when the grandparents are on a trip. Other fun coupons could include an all-day activity with a grandparent, such as a day of fishing, a trip to the shopping mall (including lunch), or a day at the county fair. Lots of templates and ideas are available from Shutterfly.
- Personalized Photo Calendar: A year’s worth of gifts come in the form of a homemade calendar. Include such special dates as birthdays and anniversaries along with holidays that the family celebrates. Then add digital pictures that depict activities from different seasons or family events.