“The Rock Guy”

Hello again, it’s Jeff.  Today is National Collect Rocks Day (yes, there is such a thing!), and I will be writing about my rock collection.  I have been fascinated by rocks since I was a kid and I think I have a very nice collection of different rocks and minerals.  When  we travel across the United States of our annual road trips I am always on the look-out for a rock shop … I can spend hours just looking in those stores (can you hear Barbara and Cassandra groaning just thinking about rock shops?).

When Barbara asked me to write a post about my rocks my first thought was making a presentation similar to what I have done a couple of times for Cassandra’s classes over the years.  When she was in 4th grade and again in 7th grade I took a portion of my collection to the school and showed it to the Science classes.  That’s where I got the name “The Rock Guy”.  I have had kids come up to me years later and ask what a particular rock was.  Quite an honor! While it was a lot of fun and I hope the kids learned a lot, an educational presentation doesn’t really fit with the style of Barbara’s blog.  I thought I would talk about some of my favorites, why they are my favorites (even though it should be obvious), how I got them and any other tips I might have for you.

Rock Shelf 1 Rock Shelf 2

The first tip I have is one I learned from Barbara.  It is if you have cool stuff, you really need to display it.  What good are beautiful and interesting things if they are stored away in boxes in the attic?  Barbara has touched on this in her post Decor – Displaying Travel Souvenirs.  What you can’t see in the pictures of that post are the shelves to the left and right which have glass doors and contain my mineral treasures (although you can see some of my petrified wood on those shelves).  Be forewarned though, displaying your treasures takes a lot of space.  If you are not committed to the cause it is better not to get started!

One of my favorite groups of minerals are the different forms of pyrite, more commonly known as “Fools Gold”.  It can be found in a number of natural forms and shapes, such as in cubes, spheres and my personal favorite the pyrite sun.

Pyrite Samples

All of these were purchased at museum shops which brings me to my second tip.  While it would be wonderful to have the giant, colorful, beautiful specimens like they have in museums there is a reason they are in those museums – they are rare and EXPENSIVE.  To have something like that you need a lot of money and space to display them properly.  I like to focus on smaller samples that are more affordable.  Here are a few of my samples, not that big, but I enjoy looking at them.

20130916_063023 20130916_062945

Another of my favorite rocks types is granite and if you haven’t figured it out already, I have several HUGE specimens in my house.  Where do you ask?  My kitchen!  When we remodeled our kitchen we went to this warehouse and got to look through hundreds of slabs of granite.  We chose a Persian granite for the top of our island.  I never get tired of looking at the different minerals and crystals there.  We also have some granite we got from Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse.  Not polished and the crystal structures are much smaller than our counter top, but cool none the less.

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I am always looking for rocks and minerals.  I found a beautiful piece of rose quartz on the side of the road in the Black Hills and some great slate in Kentucky, but I get most of my specimens in stores.  Sometimes I get lucky, like when we were in Arizona one year and we had stopped for gas.  I went in to see if they had a bathroom and found that the owner was selling petrified wood collected off of private property.  I got these great pieces at a fraction of the cost than if I had bought them at the gift shop in the National Park.

 Petrified Wood

I got this gypsum rose from a store in New Mexico that sold all kinds of stuff.  It only cost me $12!  What a find!  I found one for sale on eBay about half the size for $90.  I purchased this salt crystal at 75% off from a store in the mall that was going out of business.  It is actually a lamp, but I pulled the bulb and this is how I display it.

Gypsum Rose  20130916_071253

My favorite deal was purchased in a small shop in the Black Hills in the off season.  The store owner had just received a shipment of amethyst cathedrals and I purchased one for $128.  An amethyst cathedral is a geode (hollow rock) lined with purple crystals.  One of my more expensive purchases, but similar cathedrals sell for $400 – $600 each.  The main rules are keep your eyes open and, most importantly, know what you are buying so you pay a fair price.  If you have a smartphone you can always look up what you are looking at to make sure it is a good deal.

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In closing, I want to thank Barbara for a number of things.  First that she let me share some of my passion for rocks with you on her blog.  Second, that she lets me buy them, pick them up and more importantly that she displays them so we can enjoy them.

Let me know if you have any questions or want to see any additional pictures.  I would love to receive your comments.  If you really want to help me out you can lobby Barbara to let me get something like is described here!  If not that, maybe just a trip to BLM lands in Utah.

Sincerely,

Jeff Jones

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II coronation

2013 marks the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.  She is only the second monarch to have celebrated 60 years on the English throne.  Queen Victoria reigned for 64 years, from 1837 to 1901.  In this post I will describe the various parts of the 1953 coronation ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II that took place in Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953.

The Accession and Preparations for the Coronation

Upon the death of King George VI on February 6, 1953, his daughter, Elizabeth ascended to the throne and be proclaimed queen by the Privy Council.  The formal coronation ceremony was not held until one year later since the festivities would be deemed inappropriate during the period of mourning that follows the death of the monarch.  The coronation ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II was held more than a year after her accession.

In April 1952 the coronation committee, under the chairmanship of Prince Phillip the Duke of Edinburgh was formed to plan the coronation ceremony. The coronation was scheduled to take place on June 2, 1953 which would allow for 16 months of preparation time.  Westminster Abbey was closed for several months while construction crews prepared the exterior and interior.  Viewing stands were also built along the route from Buckingham Palace to the Abbey.

Sadly just a few weeks before the coronation day Queen Mary, the grandmother of Queen Elizabeth, died on March 24, 1953.  Normally, there would be a long mourning period and the coronation would have been postponed for several months but according to the wishes expressed in the dowager Queen’s will she stated that her death should not affect the planned coronation and the event should precede as scheduled.

Rehearsals involving all participants were held in the days prior to the coronation date.  Key members that would participate in the coronation rehearsed the different parts of the ceremony and the Queen took part in two full dress rehearsals just days before the coronation date.  She had practiced the procession back at the palace with her maids of honor carrying a long sheet instead of the coronation robe that was being specially made for the occasion.  The Queen also wore the Imperial State Crown during the days leading up to the event so that she could get used to the heavy weight of the crown.

The Coronation Ceremony

On coronation day in 1953 approximately three million people gathered on the streets of London.  Journalists came from around the world to report on the festivities leading up to the coronation and for the first time in history the BBC was going to broadcast the coronation ceremony to more than twenty million viewers around the world.  There had been considerable debate within the British Cabinet and Prime Minister Winston Churchill was opposed to the idea but Queen Elizabeth insisted that the event should be filmed for television.

The coronation ceremony for the monarch of England has taken place in Westminster Abbey since William I was crowned in 1066.  At the time of his coronation centuries ago there was an older smaller church on the present site in the City of Westminster (London) prior to the building of the current large gothic cathedral.  Most people will recognize Westminster Abbey as the place where Prince William married Catherine Middleton in April 2011.

Prior to the arrival of the Queen, various foreign royalty and heads of state arrived in a procession of carriages and one of the last to arrive to the Abbey was the Irish State Coach carrying the Queen Mother.  Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip traveled in grand style from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach pulled by eight matching horses.Queen Elizabeth II at her coronation in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953.

The Gold State Coach was built in 1762 and has been used in every coronation since King George IV; it is also used for other grand occasions such as most recently the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton and the Diamond Jubilee.  The coach weighs four tons and is 24 feet long and 12 feet high.  The gold gilded enclosed coach features panels painted by Giovanni Cipriani and at the four corners are tritons that represent Britain’s imperial power and on the roof are three gilded cherubs that represent England, Ireland and Scotland.  The interior of the coach is lined with velvet and satin.State Coach

The coronation ceremony for Queen Elizabeth II was performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the most senior cleric in the Church of England.  Other clergy and peer members had additional roles and most of the participants are required to wear ceremonial robes or uniforms.  Government officials and representatives from foreign countries along with members of the royal family and invited guests throughout England and the Commonwealth nations, approximately 8,000 guests were invited.

Coronation Prince Charles with the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret

The Procession –

Finally with everyone assembled the coronation ceremony starts with the procession of the royal regalia.  Preceding the Queen into the Abbey are the royal maces, three ceremonial swords representing mercy, spiritual and temporal justice, the Sword of State, St. Edward’s Staff and lastly St. Edward’s Crown.  Normally the Sovereign enters wearing a traditional crimson surcoat, this is usually worn for the duration of the ceremony and the other coronation garments and robes are placed over it.  Instead of a surcoat Queen Elizabeth entered the Abbey wearing her custom designed coronation gown made by Norman Hartnell and the Robe of State carried by her eight Maids of Honor.

Coronation

The different sections of the coronation ceremony have largely remained unchanged over the centuries.  After the procession, Queen Elizabeth arrives at the front of the Abbey, she kneels to pray and then sits in the Chair of Estate as the royal regalia is brought forward and placed on the altar.  Then she moves to stand before King Edward’s Chair which is also known as the Coronation Chair.

The Coronation Chair was commissioned in 1296 for the coronation of King Edward I to hold the coronations stone of Scotland, also known as the Stone of Scone.  The high back Gothic chair was carved in 1297 from oak which features four gilded lions that are the legs of the chair.  Since 1308 all England sovereigns until 1603 and Great Britain thereafter have used the chair at their coronations, with the exception of Queen Mary I who was crowned in a chair given to her by the Pope and Mary II who was crowned in copy of the chair.  In 1996 the Stone of Scone was returned to Scotland with the provision that it would be returned to the chair for the next coronation.

St. Edward's Chair

The Recognition –

During this section of the ceremony, the Archbishop along with the other clergy presents the Queen to the four corners of the coronation theatre, starting at the east, south, west and north.  The congregation signifies their acknowledgement and shouts their joy.  The Queen accepts their acclamations while standing in front of the Coronation Chair.

The Oath –

The Queen returns to the Chair of Estate and the Archbishop stands before her to ask her if she is prepared to take the Oath.  Then, the Queen approaches the altar with the Sword of State being carried before her and with her right hand on the Bible she pledges to uphold the laws of the State and Church of England.  Afterwards she kisses the Bible and signs the Oath.

The service continues with a reading from the Gospel by one of the Bishops followed by several hymns sung by the choir and the Archbishop will recite more prayers.

The Anointing –

The Queen rises and with the assistance of the Mistress of Robes she is dressed in an anointing gown made of plain white cloth that fastens in the back and is specially made to be worn over her coronation gown.  The Queen once again moves to the Coronation Chair and four Knights of the Garter approach with a pall (canopy) made of silk to shield the public from this most sacred part of the coronation ceremony.

Coronation 3

The Dean of Westminster takes the Ampulla and the Coronation Spoon from the Altar and with the Archbishop goes to stand before the Queen.  The Dean pours the Holy Oil into the Spoon and the Archbishop anoints the hands, breast and head of the Queen.  She then kneels and the Archbishop gives her a blessing.  The Knights of the Garter remove the pall and walk away.

The Queen rises at with the aid of the Mistress of Robes she removes the anointing gown and replaces it with afresh clean tunic, known as the Colobium Sindonis.  The Supertunica is put on and fastened with a Girdle and the Stole is draped over her shoulders and finally the Imperial Mantel.  The Queen then returns to sit in the Coronation Chair.

The Investiture –

This is the portion of the coronation ceremony when more items of the royal regalia are presented to the Queen, such as the Spurs, the Sword of State, the Armills and the Orb.  The Coronation Ring is also presented and placed on the fourth finger of the Queen’s right hand.  Next the Sceptre with the Cross and the Rod with the Dove are given to the Queen.Coronation 4

The Crown –

Finally this is the part of the ceremony that is the most solemn.  The Archbishop stands before the Altar and takes St. Edward’s Crown into his hands and says a prayer.  He returns to the Queen sitting in the Coronation Chair and reverently raises the Crown over her head for a few moments and then slowly lowers it onto the Queen’s head.   This act constitutes the actual crowning of the Sovereign who symbolically takes possession of the kingdom.  As the Queen is being crowned, simultaneously the Princes, Princesses and Peers put on their crowns and coronets and a shout goes out among those gathered in the Abbey, “God Save the Queen”.

Coronation 2

The Homage –

The Sceptre with the Cross and the Rod with the Dove are given to a peer to hold for the duration of the Homage.  The first to pay homage to the Queen are the Archbishop and the other bishops who kneel before the Queen and pledge their support.  Then the Duke of Edinburgh pays his homage, pledges his support and kisses the Queen’s left cheek.  Next follow the other royal members and peers who have gathered to witness the coronation ceremony.

Just before Communion, the Queen will have the Crown removed and the Orb will be given to a peer to hold.  After Communion the Queen will kneel before the Coronation Chair with the Duke of Edinburgh at her side, the Duke’s coronet will also be removed. The Archbishop will say several prayers and ends with a blessing for the royal couple.

The Recessional –

The Queen will go into the private chapel for a few minutes and as she returns she is now wearing the Imperial Crown.  The Sceptre with the Cross is placed into her right hand and the Orb into her left hand.  Then, the Queen will leave the Abbey as the congregation sings the National Anthem.  The members of the Royal family, clergy and guests will slowly follow.  Upon exiting the Abbey the Queen and Duke take their seats in the Gold State Coach and escorted by thousands of military personnel from around the Commonwealth they make their way back to Buckingham Palace through the streets of London.

Coronation recessional Coronation - Royal family on balcony

The Coronation Wardrobe of Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II coronation dressIn 1953, for her coronation ceremony, Queen Elizabeth II worn a specially made gown designed by Norman Hartnell instead of the normal surcoat.  The coronation gown was made of white silk with intricate embroidery of the floral symbols of the countries of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Nations, including the English Tudor rose, a Scottish thistle, a Welsh leek, an Irish shamrock, a Canadian maple leaf, an Australian wattle flower, a New Zealand fern and a South African protea.  Unknown to the Queen at the time, Hartnell cleverly had a four-leaf clover embroidered on the left side of the dress where Queen Elizabeth’s hand would touch it throughout the day

Over her gown, the Queen wore the Robe of State when she entered the Abbey for the coronation ceremony.  Attached to the shoulders of the dress, the purple hand woven silk velvet robe was lined in ermine and had a train that was six yards long.  The robe was beautifully embroidered with gold thread that featured a design of wheat and olive branches to represent peace and prosperity and the train ends with the Queen’s crowned cypher.

Britain Royal JewelsThe Queen also wore the diamond Coronation Necklace and Earrings that were originally made in 1858 for the coronation of Queen Victoria.  The Coronation necklace was also worn at the coronations of Queen Alexandra in 1901, Queen Mary in 1911 and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother in 1937.  At the time of the coronation in 1953 the necklace had 25 graduated cushion-cut diamonds set in silver with gold links and a large 22 carat diamond pendant known as the Lahore Diamond.  The matching Coronation Earrings were also made in 1858 and consist of four cushion-cut diamonds and two drop diamond pendants that are approximately 12 and 7 carats each.

Prior to the start of the coronation ceremony on the journey from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, the Queen wore the Diamond Diadem.  The George IV State Diadem was made in 1820 for the coronation of King George IV.   The diadem includes 1333 diamonds, including a four-carat yellow diamond, and 169 pearls with a design that alternates between crosses and a floral design which incorporate roses, thistles and shamrocks which are the symbols of England, Scotland and Ireland.

The diadem was later worn by Queen Adelaide, the consort of King William IV.  Queen Victoria inherited it in 1837 and she wore it at her coronation during the recessional from Westminster Abbey.  Upon her death in 1901 the diadem was passed to a secession of Queen consorts; Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.  The diamen is now part of the Queen’s Personal Jewel Collection and is easily recognizable as it is worn by the current Queen on the postage stamps, coins and currency of England; it is also worn in the annual procession from Buckingham Palace to the State Opening Parliament.

England is the only European country that still uses royal regalia for the consecration ceremony of their king or queens.  Some of these items are hundreds of years old and others more recent items were used in 1953 for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.  (For more detailed information about the coronation regalia in the Crown Jewels collection please see last month’s post, The Crown Jewels of England – Part One)

Craft – Flower Pot Wreath

Flower Pot Wreath  - finished

This easy Flower Pot Wreath is a great craft project to create a simple transitional wreath for the late summer to early fall seasons.  The small flower pots add some dimension to the wreath and instead of traditional flowers I will be using artificial cactus. Below are the supplies and instructions needed to make this unusual Flower Pot Wreath.

Flower Pot Wreath  – supplies

  • 1 Large grapevine wreath
  • 5 Small Terracotta Pots, an odd amount is more visually appealing to the eyes
  • A variety of several artificial cactus plants, one for each pot and some extras
  • Spanish moss
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Wire, to secure the pots to the wreath

Flower Pot Wreath - supplies

Flower Pot Wreath – instructions

  1. Arrange the terracotta pots, evenly placed around the wreath.  (I spaced the pots on the lower portion of the wreath)
  2. Cut an 8” length of wire for each pot. Lace through the bottom hole and attach each pot to the wreath in the pre-determined positions.
  3. Fill each individual terracotta pot with some Spanish moss
  4. Hot glue the cactus plants into the pots, alternate the variety from pot to pot for an appealing arrangement.  Be sure to reserve a few of the cactus for later use.
  5. Now that the pots are attached and filled, hot glue extra cactus between the pots.  (I saved the longer type cactus for this purpose)

Flower Pot Wreath  1

Flower Pot Wreath 2

Once I completed the Flower Pot Wreath I hung it on the side door of our home that leads into the garage.  Once winter comes and the weather becomes colder, I will move the wreath indoors and place it downstairs to hang in our “California Room” (this room has been described in a previous post)

Flower Pot Wreath - hung on back door

This Flower Pot Wreath craft idea can be used in a variety of different ways for any season, maybe use daffodils for Spring or sunflowers for Fall.

Travel – Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC

Biltmore Estate

Moving to the Midwest gave us the opportunity to visit so many wonderful new places … and we love to travel!!  One of those places on our “must see list” was the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.  We decided to go in January 2008 with plans that grew to include 14 family members from 4 different states.  Everybody was responsible for their own transportation and hotel reservations.  It turned out to be a wonderful extended weekend not only visiting the Biltmore but we also got to spend some quality time with three generations of family members.

HISTORY OF THE BILTMORE ESTATE

In 1880, at a time known as the Gilded Age, George Vanderbilt and his mother made regular visits to Asheville, North Carolina.  George loved the area and the climate so much that he wanted to build a summer home there, his “little mountain escape”.  The idea was to create a working estate similar to the ones found in Europe.  Construction of the main building began in 1889 and was finally completed in 1895.  It is the largest privately owned home in the United States at 175,000 square feet with 250 rooms.  Vanderbilt commissioned Richard Morris Hunt, a New York architect, to design the house in a Chateausque style.  Vanderbilt also hired landscape architect Frederick Olmstead to design the gardens which are bordered by a natural forest.

Biltmore Gardens

Vanderbilt intended for the estate to be self-supporting and he set-up several different farms involving poultry, cattle, hogs and also a dairy to provide milk and cheese products for the Biltmore kitchens.  In 1901, Vanderbilt established Biltmore Industries which made furniture inspired by those furnishings found on the estate and this provided local employment in the community.

At the time of Vanderbilt’s death in 1914, it is believed that his inheritance and personal wealth was significantly depleted due to the construction, maintenance and lavish entertaining expenses of the Biltmore Estate.  Edith was forced to sell 85,000 of the original 125,000 acres to the federal government as stipulated in her husband’s will with the provision that the land remain unaltered and eventually this property became the Pisqah National Forest.  Vanderbilt’s only child, Cornelia, opened the Biltmore House to the public in 1930 and family members continued to live there until 1956.  In 1964, the Biltmore was designated a National Historic Landmark.  Currently, the Biltmore Estate is still controlled by the Vanderbilt family and managed under the name of the Biltmore Company.

BRIEF TOUR OF THE BILTMORE ESTATE

Over one million visitors annually come to visit this major tourist attraction in Western North Carolina that includes the Biltmore House with 75 acres of formal gardens, several restaurants and gift shops, a winery and a 213 room hotel, the Inn on Biltmore Estate.

Upon entering the Biltmore House, visitors are immediately impressed by the elegant design of the Entrance Hall with the soaring limestone arches and limestone floors, the Victorian-style glass roofed Winter Garden room and the Grand Staircase.  Other rooms on the first floor include:  The Library which is filled with Vanderbilt’s massive book collection of more than 23,000 books; he was an avid reader and began acquiring books at the age of 11.  The Banquet Hall which is the largest room in the house with a 70 foot high barrel vaulted ceiling, a massive oak dining table with 64 chairs and a unique triple fireplace.  Additional rooms on this floor are the Salon with adjoining Music Room on the left and Breakfast room on the right.  The Billiard Room also leads into an area known as the Bachelor’s Wing with a Smoking Room and Gun Room.

Biltmore - Winter Garden RoomBiltmore - LibraryBiltmore - Banquet Room

Ascending the Grand Staircase, rooms located on the second floor of the house are centered on a formal sitting area where guests would meet prior to meals or other activities hosted by the Vanderbilts at the Biltmore Estate.  This is an area for guests to socialize, play games, read or write letters.   Located nearby is the Vanderbilt’s private suite of rooms that included: Mr. Vanderbilt’s bedroom which is filled with carved walnut furnishings, 17th century engravings and 19th century French bronze sculptures.  Mrs. Vanderbilt’s oval-shaped bedroom is a very feminine room designed with silk wall coverings, cut-velvet drapes and bedding.  Additional elegantly decorated and spacious guests’ rooms are also located on the second and third floors with equally elegant names such as: the Sheraton Room, the Chippendale Room, Van Dyck Room and the Madonna Room.

Biltmore - Mr. Vanderbilt's Bedroom  Bitmore - Mrs. Vanderbilt's Bedroom

The Downstairs area is mainly the work space of the house with several kitchens, pantries, laundry rooms and servants’ bedrooms.  Also located on this floor are several recreational rooms for the Vanderbilts’ guests, such as the swimming pool, gymnasium, bowling and several dressing rooms.  In a former storage area that became known as the Halloween Room, this room  was later used by the Vanderbilt’s daughter, Cornelia and her husband, for hosting lively parties where guests were known to paint imaginative murals on the walls.

TRAVEL TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS

  • Arrive early to the Biltmore Estate.  We stayed in Asheville, NC at the Marriott Courtyard and arrived the day before to rest and relax from the 6 hour drive from our home.  The next day we were able to be there when the box office opened to start the house tour before it became too crowded.
  • Allow plenty of time at the Biltmore Estate.  I recommended at least two days touring not only the Biltmore house and gardens, but also wine tasting at the winery and the restaurants and shops at the Biltmore Village.  There are other things to do in Asheville, such as: biking, hiking, horseback riding, antique shopping, etc.  We also made a quick visit to the Thomas Wolfe house and museum located in Asheville which was very interesting.
  • Generally a visit during Sunday to Thursday is less crowded.  Also, consider getting tickets in advance and make reservations online or by phone.  Guests who arrive without reservations are not guaranteed tickets during busy weekends or the holiday season.
  • Dress in comfortable clothes and shoes, dress in layers because the mountain weather can be very unpredictable.  When we visited in late January the weather was comfortable in Asheville, but at the top of the mountain at the Biltmore Estate the wind was very cold and we were glad to have our warm jackets!
  • Parking is free and shuttle buses take you from the parking lot to the Biltmore House.  In order to see the other areas of the Estate, such as the beautiful gardens, the Deerpark restaurant, the winery or the Biltmore Village for shopping, you will need your car to drive to those separate areas.
  • Even though a tour of the Biltmore House is self-guided, we highly recommend the audio tour which provides interesting historical and architectural information that enhanced our visit.
  • The night before our visit to the Biltmore House we a delicious buffet and attentive service at the Deerpark restaurant.  “The Restaurant is housed in a historic barn original to the estate. Enjoy prepared-to-order specialties in addition to classic favorites like hand-carved prime rib. The delightful courtyard restaurant specializes in Southern family-style dishes.”  We highly recommend making a reservation.

Celebration – Grandparent’s Day

Grandparent’s Day is celebrated on the first Sunday in September and has been an official nationwide holiday in the United States since 1978.  As a result of the baby boomers, the number of grandparents is expected to rise from 65 million in 2011 to 80 million in 2020.  In recent years, grandparents have slowly become the choice of working parents that are in need of childcare.  Statistics from 2012 indicate that 30% of the children under five years old are cared for on a regular basis by a grandparent.

So, let’s take the time to remember and honor the grandparents in our lives who have brought so much unconditional love and support into our lives.  Through my experience over the years in celebrating Grandparent’s Day I have come to the wonderful conclusion that grandparents truly enjoy receiving homemade gifts from their grandchildren.  This is always a great idea because the kids get the pleasure of creating a truly personal gift for their grandparents and the grandparents are so happy to receive something special from their grandchildren, it’s a win-win situation!!

Any kind of craft project using a child’s handprint is a fun activity for the kids and the finished “artwork” is makes a wonderful gift idea for grandparents.  Here are a few craft ideas from previous blog posts: Childhood Handprints is a more traditional craft idea using your child’s handprints and a lovely poem and Zoo Animal Handprints is a fun creative way of using your child’s handprints and making them into zoo animals.  After the handprints are completed be sure to let the paint dry, then beautifully frame them to make a great Grandparent’s Day gift.

Child's handprintZoo hand print - monkey 1

Photos are also a great gift idea for Grandparent’s Day.  My husband takes amazing photos and every time we see the grandparents we always try to take those great three generation photos, on my husband’s paternal side he is very lucky to have four generations.  These types of photos are great to copy and send with Grandparent’s Day cards or enlarge the photos and frame them to make wonderful gifts.

A few years ago when my Mom came to visit shortly after we moved to the Midwest we were taking our traditional three generation photos and I thought, “let’s do something fun and different”, so we took a photo of our hands.  It made an interesting photo of the contrast of a grandmother, mother and child hands.  Of course, I made an enlarged copy of the photo and it was an unusual and great idea for a Grandparent’s Day gift.

Three generation hands

Listed below are some ideas and suggestions for Grandparent’s Day gifts –

  1. Create a handmade card instead of a store-bought one.
  2. When giving or sending a card, it is a great opportunity to include the grandchildren’s school photos.
  3. Beautifully frame a picture drawn by the kids.
  4. Create a collage of 10 -20 photos of your children with their grandparents.
  5. Using photos, create a personalized calendar, be sure to note family birthdays and anniversaries.
  6. Help the kids bake a special dessert treat, make sure to consider the grandparent’s dietary needs such as sugar free cookies or cakes.
  7. Cook dinner at their home, bring a bouquet of flowers and set a beautiful table, this is a great idea for grandparents that are home-bound and have mobility restrictions.
  8. Have the older children offer to do chores for the grandparents, such as: cleaning the house or yard work.
  9. Arrange to go over to their home for an afternoon or evening of playing cards or board games.
  10. For out of town grandparents, plan ahead to have a delivery of flowers or food items.
  11. Plan a private recital for the grandparents if your child has a special talent like dance, choir or playing a musical instrument.
  12. Finally, here is a wonderful and easy craft idea –
  • Trace the handprint of the child, parent and grandparent individually onto a piece of paper; be sure to use the same right or left hand for all three hands.
  • Cut out the traced hand prints.
  • Arrange the “hands” by stacking the grandparent’s first, then the parent’s and use the child’s hand on top since it should be the smallest one, or arrange them side-by-side from oldest to youngest person.
  • Once you are pleased with the arrangement glue them to another piece of paper.
  • Be sure to write the date on the bottom portion of the paper.  Next to each individual hand write the person’s name and age.