Green and Thoughtful Gift Ideas for Grandparents

by - Friday, November 09, 2018

green and thoughtful gifts for grandparents

You are going through your shopping lists, and come across your grandparent’s name. What the heck do you get them? They have everything they need already!

And honestly, that is true of most of us. We know that overconsumption is a key contributer to climate change and the average American home has 300,000 items in it. That is a lot of freaking stuff!

This is a perfect opportunity to prioritize thought and experience over buying more material things. What better gift can you give your loved ones than cleaner air, a happier Earth, and a real future for their grandchildren?

Green gifting is easier than you think. All you have to do is think about these simple rules: 

Buy Less. Most people in this stage of life have everything they need already! If that isn't true, get them something they need, for heaven's sake. Otherwise, what you are getting them can only be a sprinkle on their life's cupcake. So one great sprinkle is so much better than too many, because we all know sprinkles are actually pretty gross.

Think about Experiences. I put experience gifts at the top of this list because I think they are about a million times better than most physical gifts. You know what your parents and grandparents want? To spend time with you. Specifically, time worth remembering.

Buy Used. New is overrated. Secondhand items keep waste out of landfills, cuts down on fossil fuel use (usually traveling much shorter distances), and will save you all sorts of money.

Buy Local. Take care of your country and your community by prioritizing small businesses that make their products near you. If your gift only travels from a neighboring state, it uses less fossil fuels than traveling from China (oh, so much stuff from China). If you want to be thoughtful, think about where things came from as well.

This post has affiliate links for Amazon and Etsy. That said, I highly recommend you take it easy on shopping on Amazon and prioritize locals shops instead. There's lots of great places out there that need our support.

Ok! Let's get to it! Grandma, Grampa, Nonno, Nana, Tutu, and more! We have all sorts of ideas to make them happy with just a teeny step out of the box.

green and thoughtful gifts for grandparents

Time with their Grandchildren

I asked grandmas I know and love what their favorite gifts they receive are, and unanimously they gave the same answer- time with their grandkids. It's that simple. Have them plan a special day at the park or museum together and draw a picture of the gift for their grandparents. Buy them tickets for a nearby amusement park or buy a few board games with the (concrete, date picked) promise of a whole day of playing them. It doesn't have to be complicated or costly.

green and thoughtful gifts for grandparents
photo by jenny gg

Family Photo Session

Some people are really great at taking pictures, and some, not so much. I think a photo session with the whole family together, with the promise of a beautiful new print for on the wall might be the perfect gift for a lot of grandparents. Guaranteed togetherness and new pictures for bragging purposes sounds pretty awesome to me.

green and thoughtful gifts for grandparents

Go Do a Thing THEY Care About

It can be easy to just see grandmas as grandmas or grandpas as grandpas, but they are people too! With interests and hobbies. Think about what they really like to do when you aren’t around and plan an activity or day where you all get together and do that thing. For example, go plant trees or a garden. Spend a day learning their favorite recipes or working in their woodshop. Go visit their favorite museum or surprise sit with them at their church. It’s a little thing, but it will mean a lot to them AND comes with the bonus that you will learn more about them.

green and thoughtful gifts for grandparents

Co-op Box Delivery or Grocery Delivery

Consider gifting them with grocery delivery (or better yet, do it yourself) if you think that is becoming a challenge or hassle for them. If they do love to cook, maybe a co-op box delivery could be a really special gift that gives them fun and local materials to work with.

green and thoughtful gifts for grandparents concert tickets


My in-laws have everything they need, so we keep buying them concert tickets for holidays and birthdays. From Elton John to Billy Joel, they always seem to have a blast. Plus, grandparents’ kids are out of the house, so they can finally just go out and enjoy themselves without worrying about a babysitter or something. Check who is coming near you, because this can be such a fun gift!

For more experience gifts, check out our giant list of ideas!

Make Them Something! 

When I asked people what they did for grandparent gifts, I got some genius ideas. One person buys plain white crew socks for the grandpas, her kids decorate them with permanent marker, and those grandpas wore them all year long. Come on! How cute is that!? Some other genius DIY ideas:

soy candles, scarves, food and treats (I saw some spiced pecans, cookies, etc), rugs, body butter, paintings and drawings, Christmas stockings, blankets, hats.

So many ideas. Steal one and make it your own. They will just be so thrilled you put in work and time to make them happy.

eco-friendly and thoughtful gift ideas for grandparents

Picture Frames (with cute pictures, of course)

For getting pictures printed, I have tried them all, and I don't like anything better than Artifact Uprising. They make the most beautiful prints on recycled paper, and the packaging is mostly paper too.

If you want a frame with it, there are a few made in America frame companies. Rustic and Refined Design makes their frames out of reclaimed barn wood in the US. We have one, and it works perfectly. You could also use FrameUSA or  BarnwoodUSA if these American-made brands are closer to their personal style.

For albums, I try to find them all secondhand (even Amazon has some secondhand options) For made in America albums, you will mostly find leather options (animal products are a mixed bag- better for the Earth than plastic, but they still come at a high ethical and environmental cost). I would check Gallery Leather albums or these albums from clairemagnolia on Etsy.

A Calendar

I have been making family calendars for years, and they are by far the biggest hit every year. I make them on Shutterfly, but I can’t exactly recommend it, because they are pretty junky for the environment. I have started switching to Artifact Uprising calendars, which are a little less complicated but very beautiful.

A Kitchen Tool (With a Promise and Plan to Use it Together)

Sometimes something as simple as a new turner set (from Epicurean) or a whisk (from Best Manufacturers) or some new glasses (like these from Anchor Hocking) can make a pretty great replacement for something looking very worn in their kitchen. See if you can suss out any info on what is not exactly working in their kitchen or what they are missing. Gift it with a recipe, a box of ingredients, and a plan to come back and cook a meal together.

eco-friendly and thoughtful gift ideas for grandparents

A Step Stool

If a grandparent wants to work together with their grandkid, a little bit of help might be in order. I love these little step stools from CandlewoodFurniture. Doesn't this just feel like a special thing a grandparent would have on hand, in case they need to boost helpers and hand washers?

Cutesy Personalized Stuff

At family events, my Nana and Poppop wear matching sweatshirts with all of their grandkids names on it, and it kills me every dang time. It is just too cute, and I love that grandparents are free enough to just be absolutely shameless about how much they love their grandkids. I have a whole blog post about amazing personalized gifts on Etsy, but here are a few I think would especially work for a grandparent.

eco-friendly and thoughtful gift ideas for grandparents necklace
from delezhen

A Necklace

If the grandma you love has a lot of grandbabies, one of these cute birthstone necklaces from delezhen keeps track of the whole lot in a beautiful way. If you are dealing with a new grandma, one of these fingerprint hearts from CaitlynMinimalist would absolutely melt her heart. Kicking myself that we didn’t do something like this.

eco-friendly and thoughtful gift ideas for grandparents family tree
from thefamilyartshop

A Family Tree

You can buy a beautiful piece of art for their home that celebrates the large (and sometimes complicated) shapes of our families. I am absolutely obsessed with these tree ring ones from TheMakeshiftGallery, but you could also do something more traditional like this one from thefamilyartshop.

eco-friendly and thoughtful gift ideas for grandparents pillow
from thepillowgeek


Come on, this pillow from thepillowgeek is so dang cute. Perfect for grandparents who are a little bit more modern (and don't have too many grandkids).

Celebrating Play

You could also go with a big pile of (secondhand- check Ebay!) board games. Especially secondhand, they aren’t too expensive, and it encourages all kinds of fun together. My recommendations are Settlers of Catan, Taboo, Scattergories, and Scribblish.

If you want to go above and beyond, my Grammy and Grampa have a vintage Flash Gordon pinball machine in their basement that continues to be a hang out spot (after at least 20 years of playing). You can find lots of vintage pinball machines out there, but be sure you either have an engineer grandparent who can fix things or they are moderately close to somewhere that can fix it.

Green and Thoughtful Gift Ideas for Grandparents

Want more gift ideas? We have thousands! Check out the Green and Easy Gifts Page for sustainable gift ideas for everyone on your list. If you want more holiday ideas, check out the Green Family page.

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  1. So many great ideas here! I love the personalized stuff and things like pictures/make together ideas. I believe most grandparents truly enjoy those most. Fabulous post!

  2. Such great ideas-- I love the experience idea. My mother loves to take my kids places and it creates so many memories.

  3. Those are all lovely ideas! We still have some shopping to do for the grandparents and I will have to use some of your ideas. We have given them tickets before and they really like that.

  4. I think my mom would really like a personalized necklace with the grandchildren listed.

  5. These are such great ideas! We love giving experiences too and finding fun local things through Groupon or LivingSocial. Sierra Beautifully Candid



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