Things You Will NeedAwareness of grandparent's personal and individual interests.
Step 1MOVIES, MUSIC, BOOKS: Find out the grandparent's favorites. Look for DVD's that have a multi-generational appeal, like "Julie & Julia," "The Proposal," or "Up." Search for a recent CD release of old favorites, for example, the Rolling Stones or James Taylor's 2009 releases. Or, update an IPOD full of their favorite jazz, Bach, or rock classics. For books, consider the recipient's viewpoints on social & political issues; perhaps find a new title like Meg Whitman's "The Power of Many."
KITCHEN GADGETS: Many of today's grandparents prepare gourmet or healthy meals. Take note of what they use in the kitchen. Chances are, they could use some new tools, and might appreciate having today's trendy kitchen must-haves - like quality bamboo cooking spoons, or a stainless micro-plane. Fresh measuring spoons, colorful kitchen towels and pot-holders could replace grungy ones. Many things come with a theme - wine, grapes, folk art, dogs, etc. For a larger gift, or for someone who loves to barbecue - a mesh grill-top chef's pan makes it easy to prepare fresh, healthy vegetables. Note: If replacing a well-loved, time-honored favorite kitchen tool - make sure the new item is high quality.
Step 3WINE: Surprise them with a totally different wine. New discoveries make great gifts for the wine-loving grandparent. Check out small winery winners from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Look for a fine local or "boutique" wine to broaden an oenophile's domestic palate. With a little research, you can find nice, highly rated regional wines in the $15 - $30 price range.
It's hard to go wrong with classic gifts. But also keep in mind that a simple thank you note, funny card, birthday phone call, silly valentine, or short written email or note require minimal investment.