General chatter - Birthday Gift Ideas?

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10-21-2008, 11:10 AM
Hello All!

I know that this is probably a really odd post, but I am totally drawing a blank for what to get my Grandpa for his 78th birthday this weekend and the family has been no help in giving suggestions. I figured that if I throw the question out to a larger audience I might get more responses/ideas?

Here's a mini description:
1) He's a Polish immigrant who's been here since the 60's, but still for some reason or another speaks no English. However, he has the miraculous ability to watch TV in English, follow the program and tell you exactly what's going on.

2) He's retired and doesn't really have any traditional hobbies. He does putz around in the garden and in his garage tinkering with things. I would get him gardening tools or general tools, but I'm afraid that he a) wouldn't know what to do with them since he's more of an improviser when the need comes up and b) he's very old school.

3) He's diabetic, so wine and chocolate are out. Even the special sugar free chocolate is out since he's suspicious of it (he only got to 3rd grade in Poland because of the war so his understanding of his disease is very poor).

4) He's is very bad with gifts. The family jokes (not in front of him of course) about his collection of mostly opened, but never worn shirts, sweaters, etc. that are sitting in his closet.

5) He's technologically challenged - they don't have a VCR let alone a DVD player, no computer, etc. I'm surprised that they are able to use the mircowave.

Wow, based on that description it kind of sounds like he's stepped out of time or something. Is there any hope of actually getting him a good gift?


10-21-2008, 11:18 AM
Does he like to read? Maybe a book that has something to do with Poland; history or cool facts. With a 3rd grade education he probably doesn't know a whole lot about his country's heritage.
A board game? I know my grandparents loved playing cribbage together.
Does he have basic tools?
I've only had one grandpa (who's gone now), but I know he loved family. For his 70th we all got together and made a college of family pics from the previous 70 years. He loved it. Maybe you could compile a photo album, if he's into that.
Hope this helps. There are gift giving quizes you can take online to get some more ideas, too.

10-21-2008, 11:21 AM
Hi Ania
What about putting together a hamper with Polish food in it?? My parent's live next door to a man who sounds just like your Grandpa and last Xmas we went to our local market where there is a polish delicatessent and with the advice of the stall keeper made up a little hamper for him. He was over the moon with it.

10-21-2008, 11:48 AM
You're a thoughtful granddaughter. The above ideas are excellent, and I can only think to add garden seeds or a promise to go buy plants together in the spring. Or a pretty houseplant. Oh, a piece of furniture? A small table?
I noticed your name is Ania. My DD's name is Anja. Maybe I should have spelled it your way, so people don't read her name as An-juh. Oh, well!

I know how you feel, my DH has a collection of hidden-away RedWings Paraphrenelia. And he wants more. Brat.

10-21-2008, 11:53 AM
Ok, obviously I'm biased given my profession, but have you thought about a family portrait?

Year before last for Xmas, DH and I had a photog friend of mine do portraits of us, and we sent them to all the grandparents. We got an overwhelming response that they were the best gift we'd ever given. Especially for us, since we live across the country and the g-parents don't get to see us very often.

So either photos of yourselves, or pay for a portrait session with your grandpa and the family to have a memento for all of you?


10-21-2008, 12:22 PM
Thank you so much for all of the feedback! This really is a toughie!

Rebecca, the book might be a good idea, but I have to find one with mostly pictures (not a lot of words) since I think that reading/writing is very difficult for him (my Grandma always does the household paperwork...and manages to spell my name wrong every time God bless her). I could probably find a coffee table type book about Pope John Paul II (Poland's unofficial national here :) )

I don't think that the board game would work - too foreign for him, he hasn't really naturalized at all, other than TV.

oh2bthintoo, the hamper is such a cute idea!! I would love to be able to do that, but they are literally 1 block away from a Polish deli. I'll have to keep that in mind for family that is a bit more removed from the deli scene or a reverse basket (American food) for the study-abroad relative in Poland right now!

Kori, the gardening ideas would be lovely if he was a typical gardener. He's more of a cowboy gardener - trimmings of this, apple seeds sent from Poland, etc. Now that I think of that, it makes me appreciate how amazing they both are. No education in any of that, never a trip to a garden center, odd methodologies (i.e. putting a portable radio in a walnut tree to scare the squirrels away) and they have the Garden of Eden in their tiny backyard in suburban Chicagoland.

PhotoChick, great minds think a like, we've already gotten them a family portrait for the Grandparents 50th Wedding Anniversary.

Gosh, this is soooooo tough!

10-21-2008, 12:36 PM
A Treasury of Polish Aphorisms: A Bilingual Edition has Polish proverbs and many drawings. There a bunch of polish books here, some bilingual or entirely polish:

And, Axis & Allies is an old European game he might enjoy.

10-21-2008, 12:49 PM
My husband's grandfather recently passed away at 97, but every year before my husband got him the same thing....

A box of his favorite Little Debbie's and a few pairs of work gloves to work in the garden, orchard or workshop. It was a very cheap gift but it worked for him.

10-21-2008, 12:51 PM
a few pairs of work gloves to work in the garden, orchard or workshop.

Ooooh, perfect. Those are definitely going into the gift package!