Holiday Top Tips: Gift Ideas for Seniors


The forum is filled with people coming together to share valuable information. We’ve compiled experienced caregivers’ best suggestions for safe and practical holiday presents that seniors will truly enjoy.

Gift Ideas for Seniors

“My dad is into history and all things Navy since he served in the Navy during World War II on the USS Moffett. Years ago, the family got him pictures of the destroyer. This year I, found him pictures of his crew.” –fedup101

“When Mom took an interest in the beading activity at her nursing home (NH), I bought a large container of big beads and a case for her to sort them into. On some of my visits, we sat and sorted beads. I knew she couldn’t actually string them, so we saved that part for the activity sessions with helpers, but she loves sorting things. ‘The Girls’ (the four of us who visit the facility regularly) have also asked other family members for small gifts suitable for bingo prizes instead of the usual fare. Mother LOVES winning bingo prizes, so keeping the NH stock of prizes replenished will make her and the other residents very happy.” –jeannegibbs

“My sister sends our mom an amaryllis bulb in a pot each year. Mom loves to watch it grow. It puts out huge blooms, and Mom just has to water it now and then.” –Linda22

“For Dad, I look in those independent living catalogs to see if they have something he could use. One year, I got him a rolling work seat that he could use in the yard. He sits on it and pulls his tools around in it while gardening. Mom likes to try different hand lotions and different kitchen/bath soaps that come in a pump. New kitchen towels are also great. Side note: I finally got my distant relatives to stop sending gift cards. My parents no longer go to the malls (they just can’t anymore), and before that, we rarely found anything that fit or that they really wanted. However, a gift card to a big chain restaurant will work if it is very close by and offers carry-out that we can bring back to the house.” –freqflyer

“For Christmas, we are mailing little things to Mom each week. Each family member is taking turns so a couple of packages will arrive every week. Some of the gifts my dad will enjoy as well. Anything that distracts her and brings a smile to her face is a gift for him too, as he is her primary caretaker.” –kwriter13

“Go to a website like Amazon and search for Tangles. You will find one-piece puzzles and other manipulative objects that are great for those with dementia, limited eyesight or arthritic hands.” –Jnelson

“My mom is 94 and legally blind from macular degeneration. I got her an older edition of the Kindle Fire, which I loaded with books. She knows how to turn it on/off, can feel to plug it in to charge and I’ve adjusted the font size to be very large and bright. She reads and reads...” –ImageIMP

“A gift certificate from a pharmacy the senior uses can be very useful. Copayments can add up.” –ArmyRetired

“We gave one parent (79), who lives independently and is very mobile, three season tickets to the symphony. For each performance, a different family member picked her up and accompanied her. This meant she got to do something she loved with family. She would never have gone alone. For another parent (92) with moderate dementia, I loaded a few dozen songs on an iPod shuffle for him to listen to. For someone who is not tech savvy, a shuffle is perfect because they can just push one button that starts and stops the music. It’s worth noting that you will have to plug it in to charge it periodically. It is important to get over-the-ear headphones so they stay on, and you have to figure out what music the person enjoyed when they were younger. Part of the magic is the music seems to trigger memories.” –Spiritspry

“Unscented, flameless candles are a great option. QVC has a nice selection. Some are seasonal or religious in nature, and anyone I’ve given them to enjoys them. Some come with timers, so they can even function as a night light. You can give a pillar candle and buy a silk flower candle ring for spring, then swap it out with something seasonal for fall and Christmas.” –alizee

“My mother-in-law with dementia loves being taken for a pedicure. Last time we went one of the nail technician drew flowers on her big toes, and she just adored looking at her own feet.” –OncehatedDIL

“I think an elder needs their seating to be as comfortable as possible. They can develop pressure sores from sitting on bones that have lost muscle mass. There are some pretty good seat cushions for sale nowadays for $15 to $25. My mom got an electric recliner a month or so before she passed away, and it made her life much more pleasurable.” –captain

“I recently found a cool service that regularly sends a postcard of the cutest animals on earth to people you know. It brought a big smile to my dad’s face!” CaliDad

“My mom loves crossword puzze books. They have the advantage of being consumable—once she fills it out, it can be recycled and not take up space in her small nursing home room. If your loved one is a tea drinker and there are limited kinds available in the dining room at their facility, perhaps a nice assortment of tea would be welcome. That kind of thing takes personal knowledge of the recipient and also of the facility they are in.” –jeannegibbs

“A bulletin board is great. If they can still handle push pins, then try a cork board. If push pins are too iffy for them to handle, then a metal one with magnets is an easy alternative. When my mom was in independent living, they had so many hand-outs and flyers for weekly activities, monthly schedules, menus, etc. that she had two metal boards (Ikea) and lots of bright big magnets (Ikea children’s dept. and some from Office Depot) to organize them all. This idea is also good for displaying pictures and letters from family.” –igloo572

“I was thinking of getting my mom a Hallmark recordable book, like ‘All the Ways I Love You.’ I’m going to try to have my daughter record the reading. You read the book, it records the reader’s voice and then they can play it back anytime they want. I think you can add words, like their name and your name, but I’m not sure.” –MishkaM

“Books on tape or DVDs are perfect for those living in a long-term care facility. Once they’re done with them, they can pass them on to other residents. Large print books are also good. They’re less tiring on the eyes and may not call for a loved one to keep their reading glasses on. A gift certificate to have a hairdresser make a house-call would be nice, too.” –Veronica91

“For a senior lady, try some interesting socks, hand creams or face cream you can help her use during visits. If she likes flowers, how about a nice artificial flower arrangement? (No watering, no dead flowers!) What items does the NH provide? You can probably get her nicer versions of things like hand soap for her bathroom.” –geewiz

What kinds of presents will you be giving to your loved ones this holiday season?

Ashley Huntsberry-Lett

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Ashley is responsible for the planning and creation of’s award-winning content. As a teenager, she assisted in caring for her step-father during his three-year battle with colon cancer. Now, through her work at, she strives to inform and empower the caregivers who devote so much to helping and healing the ones they love.

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I'm getting my mom an electric blanket. She complains about the cold constantly and how it bothers her arthritis and how stiff she is in the morning. Now she'll just complain about her electric bill . Lol
These are all great ideas...if a pet is not an issue, get a friend or family friend to bring for a short would be amazed what a visit from an animal can do....some facilities have "Pets on Wheels". If not...put the word out. I worked in a facility where a dog was brought in and specifically went into each resident's room...individual, not group activity. Also, any young people who would come is a great joy. If it is a young family member,just tell them their loved one or any person might not know them. some youngsters get afraid of seeing elderly people in various states of dementia, disease and just elderly. A single artificial flower that can be tucked behind ear. A little piece of "bling". A new handkerchief, a new hat or cap ( thrift stores are great for bitzies) know they will be lost & replacing them brings another smile. Depending on being careful that it doesn't go into mouth....long strands of the "MardiGras" beads. Ladies will put any & everything on to look gorgeous...every little girl loves to play dress-up. Men love socks (Amazon sells longer length with grippies). Sorry to be so lengthy but every little bit helps.
Believe it or not, if your LO has enough faculties to do it, take them some things in, explain to them they are making something for a child in need. What you do with it afterwards is your choice, but this makes them still feel like they are contributing. Under supervision, "playdo" is great. Google a recipe for non toxic...put some vinyl gloves & let them add color. Can ya tell I was an activity person 😊😊 .The important part is make them feel special and have fun with any present you might take. Happy Giving
For the last four years, I have used a service like Shutterfly, to make her a large wall calendar. The pages can accommodate several photos. Mostly, I use old photos of her, her parents & sibling, as well as photos of my siblings & I when we were young. Mom is 96 & has later stage dementia. She enjoys & can still connect to these photos. It helps to have a resource handy to use as a diversion when necessary.