There’s nothing better than being a grandparent — most of the time. However, birthdays and holidays can be challenging times when it comes to shopping for them. If you don’t live with your grandkids or see them on a regular basis, it’s hard to know what gifts they’ve grown into…or out of.

Just make it your strategy to find toys and gifts that keep them engaged, tickle the imagination and nurture their sense of creativity. Here are a few suggestions.

1.The 1950s Adventures of Pete and Carol Ann

As the author of what others have called great books for grandchildren, I’m going to lead with my own middle-grade chapter book series. These stories focus on the seasonally inspired adventures of two lovable 11-year-olds, From Scary Spring all the way through the calendar to Wild Winter, your loved ones will be immersed in these short stories set in the 1950s, and they’ll hang on every word. You might even get the special thrill of cuddling with the wee ones while you read these brief chapter novels to them.

  1. C.A. Hartnell coloring books

Yes, as an author of retro books for grandkids, I also offer coloring books in a similar mode. I love the fifties! So will your grandchildren. These books will help them develop fine motor skills and an appreciation for art and design. They could even learn a little about a decade with which you might be very familiar. Just imagine your fascinating chats with them about the good old days over a coloring session. Combine art with learning, and it’s the ideal gift.

  1. Construction blocks and bricks

Encourage the little ones to construct creative worlds of their own from the ground up. Building toys are one of the few gift options that the grandkids can enjoy from age one all the way through their childhood and beyond. You might start them off with the 80-piece Mega Blocks for toddlers and older kids. Then “graduate” the growing youngsters to TinkerToys, Legos or other more complex and sophisticated construction sets.

  1. Board games

Kids of all ages love board games. Adults, too. When you give the grandkids an age-appropriate game you not only present them with hours of fun, but you also create opportunities to join in. Some of the always-popular board games range from Candyland and Snakes and Ladders for those three and older all the way up to Monopoly, Stratego, and Chess for older kids and family play. Just make sure the age range is right, so your gift won’t confuse, frustrate or bore the recipient.

Any of these gifts will help kids exercise their brains and imagination. Perhaps best of all, none require batteries or any technical insight while shopping.