Senior Activities and Gifts

Gifts to Chase Their Blues Away

Gifts to Chase Their Blues Away

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At some point, we all get a little down. And if Mom and Dad are feeling isolated, whether in their own home or in an assisted living or memory care facility, that gloom may be looking pretty dark.

So why not brighten their day with “blue gifts”?

What are Blue Gifts?

They’re exactly what they sound like. A care package of inexpensive presents—each wrapped in blue paper. (Hence the name.)

Every time Mom or Dad are feeling “blue,” (again, the name—yep, it’s a pun), they choose one to unwrap. Of course, they may get so excited, they rip them all open at once, which is fun, too. But if they prefer to savor the experience, those little blue gifts can cheer them up for weeks.

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So what kind of gifts could you wrap?

The Simple Bare Necessities

Mom and Dad may not be able—or want— to go out for supplies. So replenish their favorites.

  • Shampoos, conditioners (Dry shampoos are helpful.)
  • Lotions (Worried about choosing a fragrance? Often people can handle gentle fruity aromas, like grapefruit and pear, more than flowery ones. Or go for unscented.)
  • Hand soaps and body wash (There are some great musky scents for Dad.)
  • Lip balm or lipstick
  • Deodorant
  • Detergent and dryer sheets
  • Sunscreen—because they still need to get outdoors now and then, even if it’s just in the backyard.
  • Q-tips, Band-Aids, ointments, wipes for their glasses, toothpaste, toothbrush (or heads for their electric ones) …
  • Kleenex (Love that kind with lotion!)
  • Toilet paper—yes, by now they may have run out, even if they stockpiled in the beginning.

Add the Splurge

Don’t just get rid of their blues. Give gifts that add sparkle.

  • Nail polish and remover
  • Nail clippers, files, or tweezers (I don’t know about you, but with everyone stuck at home, I can never find mine.)
  • Face masks and other home spa items
  • Flameless candles
  • Bath salts and bubbles
  • Cologne, shaving cream

Because Things Are Looking Half Empty

Fill ’em up to the brim with their favorite beverages.

  • Coffee beans or Keurig pods (Remember decaf for the evenings.)
  • Tea bags or a tea diffuser and leaves
  • Hot chocolate packets
  • Cans of soda (if you’re not shipping—otherwise, they may get shaken in transit—now that would be a fun gift opening)
  • Powdered lemonade
  • Favorite sweeteners (Even if they aren’t into honey, you can’t stop smiling at those sweet bear bottles.)
  • And don’t forget mugs or fun water bottles

Just for Fun

You know how much they like to keep busy… “Idle hands,” and all that. Help them out with simple diversions.

  • Playing cards
  • Sun hats, baseball caps, and socks (the regular style or, if you want to give ’em a good laugh, one of the crazy pairs)
  • Fanny pack (Yes, they’re coming back in style) —for when they take walks around the block or just to keep their hands empty from one room to the next
  • Stress balls—great for keeping hand strength. Or hand putty—you don’t have to worry about it exploding. (And if you’ve ever cleaned up the inside of a stress ball, you know what I’m talking about.)
  • Model trains, model cars—to add to their collection… or get them started on one
  • Fun cane—can’t quite disguise it, but not everything has to be a secret
  • Throw blankets
  • New cookie cutter and skeins of yarn
  • Or something that will really bring back the memories like Pick-up Sticks, Tiddlywinks, and a Barrel of Monkeys

Useful for Mind and Connection

These favorites are good any time.

  • Blank stationery, cards, and stamps
  • Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, word search
  • New pens, pencils, colored pencils
  • Notepads and journals
  • CDs of their favorite music, DVDs of movies or documentaries
  • Gift cards to places that deliver: food, groceries, and of course any place that ships

Books—Because Reading Gives Us Some Place to Go When We Have to Stay Where We Are

Give them an adventure of a lifetime right from their favorite Lazy-boy. You can even mix it up with hard-copy print and audio.

  • Try a classic, like Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Alexandre Dumas’ Count of Monty Christo, Baroness Orczy’s Scarlet Pimpernel, or Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
  • For fantasy? Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. And they’re never too old for C.S. Lewis’ Narnia.
  • For modern adventure, there’s Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, or James Patterson’s Alex Cross
  • Non-fiction books like John Krakauer’s Into Thin Air or Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken
  • And some young adult books that will touch their hearts: Lesléa Newman’s Hachiko Waits and Sharon Draper’s Out of My Mind (Warning: they’ll need that Kleenex box for both of those.)
  • Of course, there’s all those books (and movies) that they’ll enjoy with (or without) the grandkids.

Don’t Forget the Yummies

What would a care package be without something delicious? Of course, since you don’t know when they’ll be opening each gift, you don’t want anything perishable.

But, otherwise, wrap up their delights.

  • Savory treats like pretzels, trail mix, granola, and Pringles
  • Bags of cookies
  • Canned peaches, pears, or mandarin oranges
  • Peppermint patties or butterscotch
  • And my grandma’s favorite, crackers and Cheez Whiz (which we grandkids may or may not have dipped in a time or two.)

Loading the Basket

For more ideas, check out past posts on handmade gift ideas, activities in isolation, and, of course, Christmas and Valentine gifts that are really good any time of year.

Once you gift-wrap each item in any paper that’s blue,

  • Pile the lot in a container or box,
  • Add a note explaining about “blue gifts,”
  • Then ship or drop off the cheery care package at their home.

Can’t you just imagine their eyes when they see it?

And each time they have the blues, they’ll have a gift waiting…that brightens their day with your love.

Of course, the best thing for fighting the blues is daily fellowship, and at Frontida Assisted Living Facilities in Wisconsin, community is a top priority.

Here are more great gift ideas for Grandma and Grandpa for other holidays and celebrations.

Thank you to Suzy Hazelwood on for the featured image.

Elizabeth Daghfal
• 4 min read

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