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7 Special Birthday Celebrations for Grandchildren

Parties Are Great, But There Are Other Ways to Mark the Occasion

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As much as grandparents look forward to their grandchildren's birthdays, celebrating them can be a mite tricky. Do you attend the "kid party" with a dozen hyper children? Throw a separate family party? Or do something else entirely? The ideas contained in this article can be combined with a party, or they can be the whole deal. You may want to ease the birthday pressure by scheduling your special birthday celebration with your grandchild before or after the actual date.

1. Create a Time Capsule

Looking for a unique way to mark a birthday? Consider creating a time capsule. This can be done as part of a birthday celebration, with guests bringing items to place in the capsule, or grandparents could do it alone or with the help of the parents. Mix personal items like photos with items that reflect the time, such as newspaper ads. Set a time for the opening of the capsule, seal it and place it somewhere for safekeeping. Thanks to Donne Davis of The Gaga Sisterhood for this idea. Read Donne's blog post about creating a time capsule.

2. Take Your Grandchild on a Special Outing

Make memories by taking grandchildren somewhere special on their birthday. You can visit a museum, see a play, attend a concert or other performance, take a tour by boat or plane or see a movie. Older children can choose the venue--within reason, of course! Begin or conclude with a trip to a favorite restaurant. Include a cousin or sibling if you like, but keep the group small so that there is ample time for grandparent-grandchild bonding. This idea comes courtesy of Grandma Shelley of Grandma's Little Pearls. Grandma Shelley has several posts about this tradition. Read about one birthday trip to a museum.

3. Plant a Tree

Holding a tree planting ceremony is a fun way to mark the birthday of a grandchild. The tree can be planted at the child's home or the grandparents' home, depending upon the circumstances. Order a personalized garden sign to identify the tree, or help your grandchild make a garden stepping stone to place beside the tree. Be sure to include the date! Another birthday tradition could be taking the child's picture beside the tree each year.

4. Donate a Book or Two

Most libraries have programs which allow you to donate a book in someone's honor. Choose the library that the grandchild visits most often, whether it be a school library or a local library. The library staff should be able to help you choose a book that will fill a need. It doesn't have to be a kids' book. It could be a book about dinosaurs or some other subject that your grandchild is interested in. Most libraries will purchase the book and place a bookplate in the book showing the dedication. Grandchildren will enjoy visiting the library and showing their friends "their book." It can take several weeks for a library to order and process a book, so start the process before the child's birthday.

5. Give Something Back

For a birthday gift that teaches a valuable lesson, consider enlisting your grandchild to do something to help others. If a fun run or a walk for a cause happens to fall near your grandchild's birthday, that could be a good activity for the two or three of you or for the whole family. Depending upon the child's age, other possibilities might include picking up trash, volunteering at a food bank, visiting senior citizens or carrying out a beautification project. Couple the activity with a special lunch or dinner to create a lasting tradition. VolunteerMatch is one website that can help you find an appropriate activity in your area, or consult your local newspaper or municipal website.

6. Customize a Music CD

If you are musically inclined, here's a great way to commemorate a birthday, especially for younger kids. Record a CD with some of your grandchild's favorite songs. Be sure to include some old-fashioned favorites. If other members of the family play instruments, enlist them to accompany you. Personalize at least one song by including your grandchild's name. Change some of the other words to fit your grandchild's family. If you are an artist or know an artist, create art for the CD cover. You could also find appropriate clip art on the computer or use photographs of your grandchild for cover art. Read more details about how to carry out this project in this post from Donne Davis of the GaGa Sisterhood.

7. Give a Gift of Photos

An excellent way to mark a birthday is with a gift of photographs. Choose photographs from the year preceding the birthday, or go all the way back to birth. These can be displayed in a scrapbook, placed in a slide show or turned into a photo book. If you create a slide show, it can be a feature of the grandchild's birthday party. If you plan to create a photo book, start several weeks ahead of time to allow plenty of time for creating and shipping your gift.

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