The Story of Grandma’s Heart

My story started with this…

A poem called “Grandma’s Heart.”

These words penned nearly 20 years ago have shaped my life and led me on the path I have walked since then. And who would have known.

I was a newly-married wife, preparing for a family. My mom was a new Grandma, thanks to my sister, and was ready to enjoy the fruits of her labors. (4 labors to be exact!). A Grandma’s gushing, turned into a suggestion to start a business- a business that would be all things “Grandma”.

But what would those “things” be?

T-shirts, mugs, toys?

Not really what I had in mind. What I had in mind was capturing the “heart” of Grandma. What I had in mind had to do with the sweet memories I had of my Grandma. The little love pats, the candy dish, the Christmas’ and summers spent at her house. How do you bottle that?

My best bottle came in the form of words and eventually things that captured and held those words. Words which over the years have resonated with many who share the same thoughts about grandmas, moms, babies and family.

I initially wanted to do a children’s book with Grandma’s Heart, but in those early days, lack of experience and resources forced me to think of other alternatives. The first product was a matted print we sold to a few children’s stores. The feedback and reorders allowed us to eventually offer frames and greeting cards and a entire collection of “Heart” poems.

Grandma’s were crying and buying!

In addition to the poem, we added other features to the mats and frames, like sweet organdy ribbons and our special envelope to hold a letter from Grandma stored on the frame back.    (20 years ago, this ribbon thing was really new!)

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The envelope on the back of the poems was a sentimental touch that allowed each Grandma to really make this gift to her grandbaby her own. The envelope had a little poem and Grandma would write a letter from her heart and store it on the back of the frame. Those first Grandma’s who wrote these letters, now have grown grandchildren with handwritten words they will treasure. Customers have shared stories with me about how special this part of the gift has become. One young mother lost her mother several years after her first child was born. She was so thankful to have that letter written to her child from her mother- a memory beyond words.

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 As the years passed, the market and product demands changed. As saving and displaying ultrasound images became popular, we added Grandma’s Heart ultrasound cards and frames. We also found many Grandma’s buying Grandma’s Heart for themselves and their grandma friends, so we added a home decor styled frame. We also coupled Grandma’s Heart and Grandpa’s Heart poems for a single frame for baby’s room.

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The latest introduction has been framed prints with a more current nursery theme and ones that can also be personalized with Grandma’s own unique name…Mimi, Gigi, Gran. We can customize the name, as we address the gift needs of today’s Grandmas.

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As we near the 20th anniversay of Grandma’s Heart. I am reflecting on the journey.

So much has come from Grandma’s Heart. Much has changed in the world, and in my world yet in some ways… nothing has changed. Changing design trends, marketing, competition, the internet, these things have changed. I’ve changed too. Over two decades, I have gone from that newly married young woman to an experienced mother of 4 growing children. Ironically, I am still not a Grandma much to people’s surprise! (oh, we thought you were a grandma to write all these things!)

There is one thing that hasn’t changed.

Grandma’s Heart

The sentiment written nearly 20 years ago still captures the heart of grandmas. How fortunate for all the grandbabies and the grandbabies to come that they will still enter a world with grandmas. To celebrate the past, present and future, this year I am working on my dream of a children’s book and a few other special products to share with grandmas everywhere.

Another chapter being written…

Teri

Do you have any ideas for Grandma’s Heart gifts you would like me to create? Do you have a story of Grandma’s Heart to share? Share with me on Facebook, in comments or email info@grandparentgiftco.com.

Give us some feedback and enter to win!

Give us your input in our Grandma’s Heart Giveaway, March 10-31 by following this link here

From Concept to Product: The Story of a New Sentimental Family Gift

How do gift lines make their way from concept to products? Many times, the process is more like a journey and the final product ends up with a story all its own.

Creating “Letters from the Nest” was definately a journey and yes, a story…

In the 20 years that I have been creating gifts and sentiments, sometimes there is an idea that gets stuck in my head and my heart. It starts as a little seed of inspiration and it can take months or even years to reveal itself. So it was with my newest gift line, “Letters from the Nest”.

It started as a love for images of mother birds, babies and the nest. As a mother, I have always felt a bond with mama birds. From the tattered pages of one of my favorite beloved childrens books, “Are you my Mother?”, to watching a mother hummingbird lovingly build a nest outside our first home in California, I have felt human mommies and bird mommies understand each other. I certainly feathered my nest when I was expecting each of my 4 children. That burst of energy between the nauseous months and the “are we there yet?” months, that had me planning, painting, cleaning and readying my home to welcome each new baby.

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As my children have grown, when trying to “teach” instead of “do” for them, I would explain that I was the mother bird and my job was to help them fly. If they left my nest and plummeted to the ground because I hadn’t allowed, or taught them how to spread their wings, then I would not have done my job. They don’t always love my mama bird analogy, as I teach them by having them DO their own dishes, make their beds, clean their rooms, make their lunches and the list goes on…

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 Hang on baby bird!

I wanted to take my love for birds, home, nests and mothering and put it into a special gift with a message that would be used, appreciated and admired. I considered so many gift items… bracelets, vases, trinkets, pens, soaps…you name it. My list grew to fill a page. Of course when making a product, there is much more than the idea to consider, there is sourcing, pricing, marketing competition and much more.

I didn’t want to lose my message in the business end, but sometimes the best ideas sit on the shelf because of business, and my nest idea sat on the shelf for a couple of years, as I considered the ideal gift to go with my message.

I looked at the things I saved because they meant something. I looked at what my mother and my grandmother saved.

I save letters and pictures. I have a Valentines’ Day card from my grandmother who passed away when I was 7. I have birthday cards from friends in elementary school, letters from girlfriends secretly passed in high school, and adorable and hilarious handmade cards from my kids. My mother has these kind of things tucked away too. Do you?

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When I want to say something meaningful to someone, I send a card or a letter. I think in today’s fast-paced email, text and tweet world, a letter speaks volumes. Don’t you get a little thrill when you see a hand addressed envelope amongst the pile of ads, bills and endless credit card offers?

So I had a nest for home, and a letter for heart…now what?

Well… you write letters and you open letters., so the idea of a beautiful pen or letter opener came to mind. I discarded the idea of a pen because eventually the ink would run out and the pen would be set aside or thrown out. The idea of a letter opener was intriquing. A letter opener is something my grandma had on her desk as long as I could remember. I love letter openers because they are a bit old school (it’s that modern world thing again) and they are lasting.

I think letter openers bring us back a bit…in a good way. Do you have a letter opener? Is there a letter opener of a family member that brings back memories? 

For me, it all fit- the nest, the heart and now something to keep in the home. I penned some sentiments for occasions and people that were centered around the nest, and I scribbled my letter opener designs on pieces of scrap paper. I wanted the image to be of birds, a nest and love. Here is what I envisioned.

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and here is where I arrived with the help of a talented artist!

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Now on to the artwork, packaging and presentation. Again with the help of my talented artist, I was thrilled with the marriage of all the elements I was looking for- combining a feeling for nature, vintage, love and beauty. Sometimes in product development, the final product doesn’t match your vision. Finding an artist who understands what you are trying to create is one of the keys to success, as well as good communication and visuals from me. I also think the story helps. Knowing the why, the journey and the story behind a product helps it come to life for someone trying to understand my vision.

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I hope the letter openers find their place in homes, on desks and in offices, where they are used and admired. I hope the sentiment stays with them each time they use it. I hope that mother’s, daughters, grandmas, and couples smile when they think of their “nest” because isn’t our”home”…where are heart is?

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To see all the Letters from the Nest designs, visit www.grandparentgiftco.com.

A Unique Gender Reveal Gift

There are so many unique gender reveal gifts and ideas that have been created in the last 5 years to reveal baby’s gender. Adorable and creative gender reveal themes, games, center-filled cakes, party favors, facebook posts… you name it. Just visit Pinterest and you will witness all kind of wonderful ways to announce baby’s gender.

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Our ultrasound gifts here at The Grandparent Gift Co have always been a customer go-to for announcing baby on the way, that we we wanted to enter the gender reveal party too!

I have always loved birds and bird nests and all they represent about motherhood and family. One of my favorite childhood stories is “Are you my Mother?”. I am always telling my kids that I am the Mama Bird and they are my baby birds. It is my job to teach them to how to fly. And one day, when they leave my nest, (coming much sooner than I ever imagined) I will only know if I did my job, when they take flight. Leaving the nest and falling straight to the ground would not be a sound testiment to my parenting!

So I thought the nest was a perfect place to start to create our new gender reveal frame, The Best of Us. The Best of Us, a sweet way to acknowledge both Mommy and Daddy, is the sentiment for our new gift. An adorable nest is featured on the artwork, which comes with a single brown egg sitting sweetly inside. One the back of the frame you will find a little instruction card with 2 pink and 2 blue eggs.

When you are ready to reveal baby’s gender, use the tape provided and place the colored egg of your choice over the brown egg. The frame also has enough eggs to be perfect for a twin reveal. The frame holds baby’s ultrasound photo and later, baby’s photo.

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Have fun using this frame at a themeed gender reveal party or as a fun way to tell a spouse or grandparents whether your life will soon be filled with pink or blue.

Have you been to a gender reveal party? What is your favorite gift or idea?

Easy Family Thanksgiving Day Tradition

I started this meaningful, yet easy Thanksgiving Day idea with my family about 8 years ago and I am so happy I did. I call it our Thanksgiving Box and each year before we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, each family member fills out a card, writing down what they are thankful for that year.

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In the early days, my two youngest needed their cards written for them. Fast forward a few years and we have the few precious years of hilarious spelling mistakes and misused words. In recent years, a moody teen hurriedly scribbled “everything” on his card. Not exactly what I was hoping for- but a memory nonetheless.

Each year before reading the new cards, we go back and revisit the years past, which makes for lively conversation and memories. We have guests participate as well.

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As our children make their way to adulthood, concepts of what they are thankful for start to replace things. Pumpkin pie and pizza become good food to eat, which becomes health. My skateboard, becomes having things and privileges, which hopefully will become the ability to give to others.

For the adults, I have found some of our past thankful lists were a little stale, (that will be another blog post!), but for the kids, it tells their stories of growth and development and reminds us what was going on it their lives at the time.

We keep our thanks in a simple wooden craft store box, I doctored up a bit. If you are more creative or want something that would be a conversation piece, a centerpiece that holds cards would also be a great idea. Perhaps a cornucopia or a tree would be a great Thanksgiving table or buffet centerpiece. Anything the kids make adds a personal touch to the meal and could also be used. We are not famcy with the cards, but on some years, the kids did decide to draw pictures.

For me, no holiday says family more than Thanksgiving and I can’t get enough of the little hands made into turkeys, so that became the art for my box. These little hands are gone now, replaced with bigger hands and feet than mine.

This year I will be adding the memories in my Thanksgiving box to my list of what  I am thankful for!

Teri

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For more meaningful gift ideas and all things family, follow us on Pinterest or

visit our website, www.grandparentgiftco.com.

Birth Stories : Moms Never Forget

Birth Stories are enduring, amazing stories remembered, treasured and retold by mom’s across the world and over centuries. When I was a young mother I had a neighbor who showed me my future through a conversation we had on a sunny Southern California sidewalk one day, some 15 years ago.

That neighborly conversation stuck with me and helped me understand the impact bringing children into the world would truly have on the rest of my life.

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Dot was 85 years old and I began to see her less frequently over the past year. She and her husband Bob, now gone, used to walk the neighborhood each evening. She would often stop to talk, always seeming to ask questions that gave away she was watching our family’s comings and goings from her kitchen window.

On day talked turned to babies, and with unusual clarity, Dot recalled the birth of each of her three children, now grandparents themselves. As a new mom, my firstborn’s birth story was fresh in my mind, all the little details and emotions of that day.

I had yet to experience the journey of motherhood, not truly understanding the magnitude of each child’s story and the lasting imprint it would leave on my heart and mind.

Now, with a few more years of motherhood under my belt, I still can tell the story of each child’s entry into the word with clarity and I can see at 86 the story will still be engraved on my heart.

In today’s modern world, there are so many more means to help us remember our stories…

…like ultrasound pictures we save and treasure from our doctor’s appointments, selfies of our pregnant selves and time lapse videos created to show 9 months of miracle in mere seconds. Our baby books may be  online or stored on our phone or computer for generations to come.

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What the pictures and videos’ can’t capture is the picture of how your heart changes from that day forward.

That change is shown whenever we recount the day we brought our children into the world, and our heart still swells with a mother’s love, even after all those years.

What is your birth story or stories? What will you always remember?

Check out our story of life frame

Birth Stories

Grandparents Day Gift Ideas

As you begin your search for Grandparent’s Day gift ideas, have a little fun and join our Facebook Grandparent’s Day contest.

Grandparent’s Day was established in 1978 to celebrate the important role grandparents play in the lives of family. The second Sunday in September, Grandparent’s Day is on Sept. 7, 2014.

In recognition of grandparents, our contest highlights are in the video link below. Follow the Orange Slice Contest link to watch and enter by August 24, 2014. The orange slice is our companies “mascot” for grandparents. When I was a little girl, Grandma’s candy dish was a symbol of all the sweetness that was Grandma’s house. It has been the inspiration from many of my companies sentimental gifts.

Check out our weekly deals where we will feature popular grandparent gifts for great prices. This week we are featuring our Grandparent’s Memory Book– a must have keepsake for every family.

LINK TO THE CONTEST VIDEO HERE

 

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For great ideas on ways to celebrate Grandparent’s Day in your family, check out some of our grandparent blog posts.

8 ideas for grandkids to connect with grandparents at a distance

Grandparent’s Day Idea: Host a Grandchild Party

Come have some fun and win a candy jar for your home. We will fill it through out this year with fun nostalgia candies and as a bonus, we will add your favorites too!

Enter FACEBOOK CONTEST HERE!

Grandma Names Today: Fun and Creative

Recently I thought I would have a little fun with a facebook post. From the post, I received a list of  Grandma Names which was very impressive! I posed the question, “what do your grandkids call you?”

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Having created gifts for grandparents for the past 18 years, I thought I was “up” on these things. Turns out I still had some things to learn. From reading all the wonderful responses, here is what today’s grandmas are saying about their grandkids and their unique Grandma names.

  1. Best Laid Plans

Although some grandmas had their Grandma name picked before the sweet grandbaby arrived, many grandmas told me their grandchildren didn’t always comply. Many grandmas found their names by what the first little one could say- Mama, Maimai, Ging Ging, K, Ga, Mamo…

I see a pattern here!

Toddler speak turns into a name and many times it sticks! One of the most popular Grandma names is now Mimi. Grandmas love it and so do little ones as it is golden to their tongues- easy to pronounce. What better toddler word is there than “ME?!”

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  1. Just Call Me

When the plan is foiled or the name is unusual, most Grandmas didn’t seem to mind. They are so smitten with the grandbaby all they really want is to be recognized and loved.

I think a unique grandma name makes a grandma feel more special.

It also adds to the cuteness factor when you hear tr said by a sweet little voice. Many grandmas shared the sentiment,

“I don’t care what they call me, I am just happy for them to call me.”

Some grandmas have multiple names from different grandchildren, whether it be from different sides of the family, step-children etc.. They have to keep up with who they are. Sometimes their first name changes as the years go by. One Grandma said all the kids, neighbor kids included, now call her “Sugar” which is her grandma name.

 

  1. A Story to Tell

Having a sweet or funny story on how their name came to be makes a grandma more proud of her unique name. An Alabama fan became Bamaw, a great-grandma became Great One. Sometimes family heritage or history plays a role in names such as Nona or Nonnie, Ya Ya and Oma.

 

  1. So Who’s the Winner?

From my little survey, here are the top names (hint- it is NOT Grandma)

  1. Nana
  2. Grammy/Grammie
  3. Mimi (or MeMe)
  4. Memaw (lots of different spellings)
  5. Grandma
  6. Gramma
  7. Gigi/G G
  8. Mom Mom
  9. Nonnie/Nonni

 

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As you can see, getting the spelling right is also a challenge!

  1. The Coming Trend?

With lots of wonderfully sweet grandma names on my list, here are a few that you may hear more of in the future: Sunny, Honey, Cookie, Sugar, Lovey and Lolly. (combine this one with Pop and you have a really fun couple)

What do your grandkids call you?

To join the fun and conversation, Like us on Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to participate in future contests, drawing and more ideas and gifts for the entire family.

 

Mom Blog: The Broken Seashell

On a recent beach trip, a day spent combing  the beach for seashells with my daughter got me thinking about how I was showing her the world.

Taking my first steps into the hot sand of summer vacation, I do what I LOVE to do at the beach- collect seashells. It is a fascination I have held since childhood. For me, a beach isn’t a beach, if it doesn’t have shells.

I walk along the water line, scanning the sand, waiting for something to catch my eye. I pick up my find and inspect it carefully. If it is a perfect shell, I deposit in my pocket. Many times I’m disappointed to discover a shell I first thought was beautiful, was really, upon closer inspection, flawed. These shells I let fall back to the sand.

Trailing me down the beach, my 10-year old daughter is also enthralled with collecting seashells, but when she picks up a shell because it catches her eye, she keeps it. It may be broken or chipped, but if there is a part she loves, it’s a keeper.

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On this day, as she had done many times before, she excitedly holds her latest find out in her sandy wet palm for me to inspect. “Isn’t this one perfect?!” she gushes. She awaits my approval. My instinct is to point out all the imperfections she’s missed. Doesn’t she see it isn’t perfect?

But this time, my heart stops my tongue. “Yes Sweet, it is beautiful.”

And off she runs, elated with her newest souvenir from the sea , and I am left wondering.

Why should I question or judge what she sees as beauty? Why should I point out the negative, when she is celebrating the positive? For the one part of her shell that glistens in the sun with wonderful colors or perhaps a delightful design, can I not look past the broken corner? Is this the way I view the world? Is this the way I am teaching her to see the world…herself… others?

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The need for perfection, not accepting or loving things that are imperfect. ..perfect hair, perfect clothes, perfect grades, perfect house? Easily tossing aside things or people we see as flawed?

How about the drawing crumpled in frustration because it wasn’t perfect? Or the self loathing because her nose…her hair… her thighs… her weight…on any given day, aren’t perfect?

Hiding imperfections from others, creating a façade we only wish were real? Spending time and energy concealing or condemning our shortcomings instead of celebrating what makes us great?

What happened to applauding the things about us that “glisten in the sun?” For my daughter it is her beautiful butterfly stroke, her kindness to friends, her ability to sweep a kitchen floor like no other 10-year old I’ve ever met…Are they not worthy of celebrating because she isn’t the skilled artist she yearns to be, or she wishes for curls in her hair?

Is beauty irrelevant once flaws are uncovered?

Do you strive for perfection?

Do you like things perfect?

I don’t know that I have spent a lot of time thinking about how I would answer that question…but I probably spend too much time trying to make things “perfect. “ Perhaps my lens on the world, like my declining eyesight, has clouded over the years.

Maybe it is well-intentioned, yet misguided parenting, or perhaps it is a reflection of my own shortcomings.

Perfection is a funny thing. We strive for perfection, but when asked what qualities we think are important in ourselves and others, perfection isn’t on the list.

It is almost the contrary.

Perfection is a double-edged sword. We strive for it for ourselves, yet we distain it in others. We certainly don’t look for perfect friends. I contend we are drawn to people who seem “flawed”.

Why?

Do they make us feel better because our own shortcomings pale in comparison? Do they make us feel more accepted, less judged? Are they more relaxed, giving us the permission to show our true selves and admit we too are flawed? Or perhaps these friends have learned to appreciate the glow of their own light, rendering flaws unimportant and inconsequential?

These are all questions that will take some time to answer honestly.

For now, I have a big glass jar of our shells on my desk, ALL of them-hers and mine. It is a daily reminder from a young daughter to her mother.

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It is a reminder to look for beauty in all things, and to practice acceptance of self and others, and to be content with and celebrate a less-than-perfect, yet wonderfully flawed life.

 

Teri

UPDATE

The Broken Seashell, now in print! Thank you Northside Women magazine for this beautiful spread.

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Gifts for Grandpa for Father’s Day

Thank you to Nanahood.com for sharing our recommendations for gifts for Grandpa for Father’s Day. Check out her blog where Teresa dishes about the second half of the Motherhood journey!

Here are a few highlights…

Finding thoughtful gifts for grandpas, granddads, papas and pops, or whatever their name of endearment, can be a shopping challenge. Grandpa may be a softie, a jokester, a fixer or a storyteller, but he probably loves a thoughtful, personal gift from the grandkids on Father’s Day. (that’s what happens when you get older!)

To ease your search, I have compiled The Grandparent Gift Co.’s top 5 thoughtful gifts grandpas for Father’s Day.

There is a little something for the different types of grandpas, but each combine poignant words from the heart with a beautiful gift he will brag about…. READ MORE HERE

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To shop more thoughtful gift ideas for Grandpa for Father’s Day, visit our Father’s Day Gift page fore more ideas!

Enter our Father’s Day Contest too! Click Here

Father’s Day Card Idea: Easy and Meaningful!

I don’t know about you, but my husband isn’t a very good saver. I don’t mean saving money, but saving sentimental things like many moms. ..sweet letters and drawings from the kids, hilarious notes, those “things.”

So when my kids were little and I wanted a meaningful but easy Father’s Day card idea I could give from the kids. I came up with an idea we have used every year since.

Father's Day Card Idea | Grandparent Gift Co

Father’s Day Card Idea

I call it a Father’s Day card journal and it is so simple yet perfect every single Father’s Day. Instead of buying or making him cards, they write their Father’s day greeting in the journal. (excuse the smears, but I said we have been using this for years!)

Each child gets a page and puts their name and year on it. They then can draw or write whatever message they like on that years page.

Why this Works

1. Everything is in one place.

No lost cards, no pile of stuff, no box of things to organize. Buy a blank journal, best to purchase one with ample pages. Make sure the paper is a nice thick  quality so when the kids choose Sharpies one year, everything doesn’t bleed through. I like the ones with spiral binding because it lies flat for easy writing.

I think I may have gotten the one I used in the art/drawing section of Micheal’s years ago. I had some vinyl letters put on the front, but this creative part I leave to you and your kid’s imaginations.

Father's Day Card Idea | Grandparent Gift Co

2. Watching the kids grow

Each year you not only get to enjoy the present, but relive and enjoy the past. Everyone loves to look at their younger selves. Good for a few family laughs and a few pulled heartstrings. After Father’s Day, I tuck the journal away IN THE SAME PLACE, so I can easily find it next year.

Father's Day Card Idea | Grandparent Gift Co

3. A Future Keepsake

When the kids are grown and gone, Dad will have an irreplaceable treasured keepsake from the kids all bound in one nice album, albeit a few tears and smears over the years. (but that will be part of the charm and memories too!)

Do you have a great card or gift idea for Father’s Day?

For other great gifts visit us at www.grandparentgiftcompany.com

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