Christmas is just weeks away. You’ve made your list, checked it twice. But now you’re stuck. What gifts can you get for your senior friends who can’t live on their own anymore? And for the loved ones who care for them?
We went right to our elves to find some great ideas—Tried-and-true presents that can make spirits bright all year long.
Gifts for Your “Silver Belles” (and Beaus)
1. Stocking Stuffers: You Never Outgrow Them
Everyone loves a little pampering. So find out their favorites scents and pick up a little something from these treats:
- toiletries and bath products,
- cologne and perfume,
- body sprays, lotion
- electric toothbrush
Other great goody bag items?
- Word search books
- An assortment of greeting cards for them to send out to others
2. Bundle Them Up: Because, Baby, It’s Cold Outside
Red noses are only cute on Rudolph.
- Give them new winter coats.
- Add toasty mittens which are easier to put on than gloves and keep their hands warmer.
- Don’t forget an infinity scarf which wraps around both head and neck quickly—and stays on.
And since everyone’s “dreaming of a white Christmas,” winter’s a great time for staying comfy indoors. Choose:
- a new robe, flannel for him, soft and fluffy for her
- no-slip socks and slippers
- warm, snuggly blankets
- pajamas or a nightgown–even if the ones they already own aren’t old. It’s nice to have options, especially if they spend a lot of time in them.
3. Personalize Their Rooms (No, They Don’t Need a Fishnet Leg Lamp)
Some good ideas?
- framed memories to hang on the wall
- a new comforter or throw
- subscriptions to their favorite magazines
- and, of course, candy or chocolate. (If you fill up a plexiglass apothecary jar with their favorite sweet, it’s perfect for them to offer as a treat to company—or just to enjoy a daily splurge themselves.)
Sometimes they might want a bigger snack without having to traipse to the kitchen. No problem if you give them one of these:
- Mini fridge
- Favorite K-cups
For more ideas, check out this post on making Mom’s room her own.
4. Keep the Date Straight—All 12 Days of Christmas…and the Other 50 Weeks
Days and months can start to meld together.
- Find a calendar with monthly scenes of the seasons. It helps them keep track of the time of year.
- Write in all the family birthdays and special events on their respective dates
People and names are also becoming a struggle?
- Create one of those print-your-own calendars and ask family members to send you selfies of their enjoying different times of the year. Use those as the photos and label them.
5. “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.”
Not all gifts have to cost money. Some of the most memorable presents are–being present.
- Watch an old movie together.
- Listen to music from their teen years. Better yet, dance to it with them.
- Let them teach you one of their favorite hobbies. It may not come as easy to them now, but that’s okay. Celebrate the fun of making memories…
But the coolest idea yet?
6. Give Them a Gift that Can Affect Generations to Come: Make a Record
Yes, of course, there’s an app for that.
It’s called StoryCorps, and the idea is simple. Download the free app, hit record, and just talk. Together.
- childhood friends
- first jobs
- whatever else you want. If you need more ideas, check out these great interview suggestions.
You can do it with just the two of you or invite family members to join in the discussion.
After you’re done, upload it to the Library of Congress where it will be archived, creating a permanent part of history.
Told you it was cool.
Okay, you have a gift for your senior Santas.
But whether they’re living with family or in an assisted living facility, there’s often a loved one who is spending a lot of time tending to them.
Maybe a daughter, an in-law, a sister, a husband. What can you give to encourage them?
Gifts for those Caregiving Elves
7. Let Them Know They Won’t Have a Blue Christmas—or New Year—or Valentines…Because They Aren’t Alone
- Send cards. And emails. And texts. Tell them you’re thinking about them.
- Pick up groceries for them. Or make a meal.
- Give a book written by people who have been there/done that. Like
- The 36-Hour Day, by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins, (Everything about the world of dementia and how to handle it) and
- Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal (How to help the elderly live out their last years.)
8. Give Them a “Sleigh Ride,” or a Chance to Get Away
- Gift cards to restaurants, concerts, and spas provide a little breather from caregiving.
- Sign the caregivers up for an art class, music class, cooking class…–something that meets more often than just once so they can look forward to it each week.
- While they go out, sit with the one they’re caring for…or find someone who can.
- For a longer escape, if the seniors aren’t already living there, offer to pay for respite care in a nearby assisted living facility like Frontida, where senior visitors can stay for several weeks.
9. Sometimes It Just Seems Too Hard to Get Out: Protecting Grandma from Reindeer
- If it’s more relaxing for everyone just to stay in, look for gift cards to places that deliver. Or rent a movie and bring it to watch together.
One caregiver recalled,
“A friend offered to pick up Panera and brought us lunch. We sat at our kitchen table for an hour and a half and my dear friend loved my mother and me so well. For a moment, my mother wasn’t homebound. She loved having a guest.”
You can hear in her words just how much that gift meant.
10. Beating Back Ebenezer: When the Chores Won’t Let Her Take a Break.
- Offer to do dishes or laundry or mopping, giving the caregiver a few moments to just sit with her mother, holding hands—not as a “to-do,” but enjoying her as Mom. It can fill them both with peace.
Yes, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas
This list is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully it gives you ideas that can make their eyes twinkle—and their hearts feel loved.
We wish you and yours a Merry Christmas.
And God bless us, every one.
Elizabeth Daghfal is a writer, teacher, speaker, and community volunteer. When she isn't teaching or writing-- Who are we kidding? Her husband and five kids say she's ALWAYS teaching and writing. She has a passion to help people who are struggling and is happy to say her shoulders are drip-dry. Born and raised in the South, she now lives in Wisconsin and loves it--except for the fifteen months of winter. Read more about her at elizabethdaghfal.com.