What Grandparents Day Is All About—and How to Celebrate

Grandparents Day is a special holiday that celebrates the bond between grandparents and their grandchildren. Learn the history behind the holiday and some fun ways to celebrate.
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By Nehal Aggarwal, Editor
Published August 13, 2021
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It’s no secret that grandparents do a lot for their grandchildren, from playing games and reading stories to dispensing kisses and words of wisdom. The two generations share a special relationship that deserves to be celebrated—and that’s exactly what Grandparents Day is all about. The holiday is a dedicated day for grandparents and their grandchildren to spend some quality time together. But when is Grandparents Day? When did Grandparents Day start? How is it celebrated? Keep reading for answers to all these national Grandparents Day questions and more.

What Is Grandparents Day?

Grandparents Day is a national holiday that honors grandparents and any grandparent-figures that may be in a child’s life. It offers a chance for the youngest generation to bond with the oldest one and learn from them, including through stories of their upbringing and family history.

When Is Grandparents Day?

In the US, national Grandparents Day always falls on the Sunday after Labor Day. However, Grandparents Day is also celebrated in many other countries across the world. In the United Kingdom and Australia, the holiday falls in October, while in Mexico it’s celebrated in August. As of January 2021, there is even a World Grandparents Day, established by Pope Francis. He chose the fourth Sunday in July for the holiday.

When Did Grandparents Day Start?

National Grandparents Day was established in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter, but Marian McQuade, an advocate for the elderly from West Virginia, is frequently cited as the champion behind Grandparents Day as we know it. She served on the state’s Vocational Rehabilitation Foundation, the Nursing Home Licensing Board and the West Virginia Commission on Aging. In 1970, she began a campaign to establish a day that recognized and celebrated grandparents. Her goal? To make sure the older generation was being thought of. “It’s not for grandparents like me to get presents. It’s to alleviate some loneliness,” McQuade told the LA Times in a 2003 interview, five years before her death.

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Her campaign was successful, and in 1973, West Virginia Governor Arch Moore announced Grandparents Day as a statewide annual holiday. However, McQuade kept campaigning with governors, senators and congressmen across America, and more states began to celebrate the day. Eventually, Carter issued a proclaimation, making Grandparents Day a national holiday.

The day also has an official flower, the forget-me-not, and an official song, “A Song for Grandma and Grandpa” by Johnny Prill, both chosen by the National Grandparents Day Council.

How to Celebrate: Grandparents Day Ideas

There are tons of ways to spend Grandparents Day as a family. The best way to celebrate, if possible, is to simply spend quality time together. Go through old family photos together and hear the grandparents reminisce, or whip something up in the kitchen (try a recipe that’s simple enough that even younger kids could help out with!). If the weather is nice, have Grandma or Grandpa take the kids to the playground, or spend time coloring and playing games indoors. If grandparents live a little farther away, consider inviting them to spend the night, or pack up your kids’ belongings and head to their house— Grandma and Grandpa would no doubt appreciate the one-on-one time with the littles. (Plus, with grandparents around, you may even get a break from meal prep or bedtime duties!)

While time spent together is often the best present, homemade Grandparents Day gifts and cards can also be a wonderful way to show love. Help your little one make a keepsake or have grandparents join in on the crafting and make something together. (For gift ideas and card inspiration, see below!)

However you choose to celebrate, remember: The point of the holiday is for the two generations to spend time together and strengthen the sweet bond they share.

Grandparents Day Quotes

If you’re putting together a Grandparents Day card and looking for ways to make it extra special, consider adding in a meaningful quote. There are several picks that are funny, kind and honor all that grandparents do. Take a peek at some of our favorite Grandparents Day quotes below.

“Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” - Alex Haley

“The simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate, is called a grandparent.” - Sam Levenson

“Love is the greatest gift that one generation can leave to another.” - Richard Garnett

“One of the most powerful handclasps is that of a new grandbaby around the finger of a grandfather.” - Joy Hargrove

“Grandparents are there to help the child get into mischief they haven’t thought of yet.” - Gene Perret

“Grandparents, like heroes, are as necessary to a child’s growth as vitamins.” - Joyce Allston

“Grandparenthood is one of life’s rewards for surviving your own children.” - Erma Bombeck

“Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation.” - Lois Wyse

“Grandparents hold our tiny hands for just a little while, but our hearts forever.” - Unknown

Grandparents Day Poems

Poems are another wonderful way to help make Grandparents Day feel loved. Older kids may be able to memorize and recite a poem for the day, but for younger children, putting a thoughtful Grandparents Day poem into a card is a great alternative. Check out four options below! (While one isn’t a traditional poem, what’s sweeter than having little ones recite part or all of the song dedicated to national Grandparents Day?)

“Nana’s Little Angel” by Lindsey M. Moulton
Nana you are special
Your love knows no bounds
A room takes special warmth whenever you’re around
You think I’m cute and talented and maybe even wise
But I know that’s why all grandparents see through loving eyes
Every day with you is precious
I’m so grateful for the time
Of all the grandparents in the world
I’m thankful that you’re mine

“Walk with Grandpa” by Rodney O. Hurd
I like to walk with Grandpa,
His steps are short like mine.
He doesn’t say “Now hurry up!”
He always takes his time.
Most people have to hurry,
They do not stop and see,
I’m glad that God made Grandpa
‘Unrushed’ and young like me.

“Grandparents Day Poem” by Mary Dawson Hughes
A grandmother has a special talent-
She always knows just what to do
To make her grandchildren happy
And to show she loves them, too.

At the family get-togethers,
She’s the first person to look for-
She can entertain small children for hours,
And they always keep asking for more.

You can tell when a grandmother’s teasing
By the twinkle that shines in her eyes-
She’s an expert at settling problems,
For she’s loving, patient and wise.

Her grandchildren always admire her,
Even when they are grown-
They always feel proud and happy
To claim Grandmother as their own!

“A Song for Grandma and Grandpa” by Johnny Prill
Oh Grandma, Grandpa, you know that I love you
I love all those little things that you say and do
A walk through the park, a trip to the zoo
Oh Grandma, Grandpa I love you

Going to a ball game, fishing on the lake
Eating Grandma’s cookies, boy they sure taste great
Going to the circus when it comes to town
Eating cotton candy and laughing at the clowns

Oh Grandma, Grandpa, you know that I love you
I love all those little things that you say and do
A hug and a kiss, a ride home from school
Oh Grandma, Grandpa I love you

Spending time together, talking on the phone
Happy birthday presents, chocolate ice cream cones
Photographs and memories, picnics and parades
Saying that you love me in so many ways

Oh Grandma, Grandpa, you know that I love you
I love all those little things that you say and do
The stories you tell, things I never knew
Oh Grandma, Grandpa I love you.

Grandparents Day Gifts

Grandparents Day gifts are a wonderful way to make grandparents feel special—but it may be a little difficult coming up with ideas for people who seem to have everything. When in doubt, keepsakes that remind them of their growing family always make for thoughtful presents. Check out some of our favorite ideas for Grandparents Day gifts below.

Image: Courtesy Wonderbly

Personalized Storybook

A personalized storybook is a delightful way to show grandparents you appreciate them. These options for Grandma and Grandpa may just be the perfect bedtime books for them to read with their grandbabies.

Buy it: I Love Grandma This Much, $35,; I Love Grandad This Much, $35,

Image: Courtesy HappyGiftMarket / Etsy

Grandma and Grandpa Mugs

What better way to celebrate a first Grandparents Day than with their new titles? These personalized options from Etsy include the year baby was born and even allow for customization (in case they go by something other than Grandma and Grandpa!).

Buy it: Happy Gift Market Grandma Grandpa Mugs, starting from $32,

Image: Courtesy Artifact Uprising

Photo Book

This national Grandparents Day, show some love with a photo book. Artifact Uprising makes a high-quality hardcover one with fabric binding. It’s durable, elegant and will look chic on any bookshelf or coffee table.

Buy it: Hardcover Photo Book, $69,

Image: Courtesy Uncommon Goods

Long Distance Lamp Set

These lamps from Uncommon Goods are a unique Grandparents Day gift idea for those who may live a little farther away. The lamps are synced, so when you turn one on, the other emits a glow. If grandkids and grandparents can’t say good night in person, this makes for a sweet alternative.

Buy it: Long Distance Friendship Lamp, starting from $85,

Image: Courtesy BLOCKsetc / Etsy

Baby’s Engraved Handwriting

Baby’s handprints, toddlers’ drawing skills and kids’ handwriting are all going to change as they get older. One great Grandparents Day gift idea is to get them an engraving of their grandchild’s palmprint or handiwork, preserving it into a keepsake grandparents will cherish for years to come.

Buy it: BLOCKS etc. Handwriting Gift, starting from $25,

Image: Courtesy Uncommon Goods

A Personalized Serving Bowl

For grandparents who love to host, look no further than this family tree serving bowl. It can be personalized with your family name, is designed to serve a crowd and versatile enough for both special occasions and daily use.

Buy it: Personalized Family Tree Serving Bowl, $150,

Grandparents Day Crafts

If you’re leaning toward a homemade Grandparents Day gift, why not have them join in on the fun? Gift or no gift, grandparents will likely want to get in on any Grandparents Day activities that involve spending time with loved ones. Here are some cute crafts the whole family will enjoy.

Salt Dough Handprint Keepsakes

If not with prints, cherish the memory of baby’s tiny hands with a salt dough keepsake. This Grandparents Day craft from Yummy Toddler Food only takes a few ingredients and is easy to do in an afternoon. Plus, grandparents can easily turn the keepsake into an ornament to hang on the wall or on the Christmas tree.

Coloring Pages

Little ones love to color. It helps them learn, develop concentration and build fine motor skills—and grandparents can easily join in on the action. The Best Ideas for Kids offers plenty of options that are bound to inspire an afternoon of colorful play.

Personalized Kitchen Towels

There’s nothing more lovely for grandparents than to see reminders of their grandchildren in their home. For this Grandparents Day activity from I Can Teach My Child, you’ll need white towels, fabric paint, stencils and, of course, your kiddo’s imagination. You’ll be left with towels to proudly display year-round.

Clay Picture Frames

This fun Grandparents Day craft from Activity Village requires a passport sized photo and some clay. Make a clay square frame and then let your tot decorate with gems, beads or whatever you think of! The end result will be a unique framed photo to display anywhere in the house.

Hand Printed Mason Jar Vase

Perfect for any grandparent who enjoys fresh blooms, this vase from Midwestern Moms incorporates baby’s handprint into the house decor. Grab a clean mason jar, some paint and, of course, baby’s teeny tiny hands.

Heart Thumbprint Platter

Another wonderful Grandparents Day craft option that showcases the entire family or multiple grandchildren is this serving platter from Old Salt Farm. It requires a white serving platter and glass paint. Once you’re finished, you’ll want to pull it out for any and every gathering—including the next Grandparents Day.

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