Philip Larkin: “The Old Fools”
Happy Hannukah 5776

Holiday Gifts for Elders 2015

A quick look around here reveals that I've been doing this annual post since 2006 – ten years now. Even so, the bare bones truth is that I don't know any more about gifts for old people than the next person. Most of what I've written during this decade is common sense.

In fact, because I detest shopping (except for food), I have no idea what's out there that might be new, different or interesting.

But I do have one strong feeling about gifts (at any time of year): no gift is worth its name if it is not something you know the recipient wants, needs or would enjoy.

Oh, and one other thing: unless, for example, a washing machine, vacuum cleaner, blood pressure monitor or hearing aid is needed and economically out of the question for your giftee, go for personal, fun or indulgent every time. That's what gift occasions are for.

You already know the major categories of gifts: personal, practical, home, technology, entertainment. Plenty of ideas from previous years on this blog apply. You can find some here and here and here and here. (There is probably a lot of repetition.)

With all that, this year's gift post is short. So here are a very few additional ideas and links that might help expand your thinking. I'm not endorsing any of these websites.

Notorious RGB Coffee Mug

Notorious RGB Mug

This is my favorite new, small thing. As the website says,

“Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a real badass, because real badasses push forward women's and minority rights. It's everyone's favorite Supreme Court justice, Notorious R.B.G.”

The mug costs $19 and you can buy it here.

A Donation Idea
Lots of old people say they don't want anything. If you choose to believe someone on your list about that, how about a donation in their name.

There is a important program called Reading is Fundamental (RIF) that Frank Bruni wrote about in The New York Times recently. The 50-year-old organization provides books to children who otherwise might not have access to them. Here is a short video from RIF's president and CEO, Carol Rasco.

You can donate via RIF's home page. Or, if you like the donation idea but prefer a different recipient that might mean more to your giftee, I'm sure you can come up with other good possibilities.

Adult Coloring Books
I am skeptical about this entire idea but reader Antonia Albany emailed to suggest them and I recently saw a large table in a bookshop overflowing with adult coloring books. I doubt they are being featured for nothing.

Here is an example:


You can see many more examples here. If you go with this, don't forget the crayons or whatever people use for coloring these days.

Taxi Vouchers
Doctafil mentioned this and I hear again and again from elders, their friends and relatives that taxi vouchers are a big deal, welcome gift for people who don't drive anymore. I'm pretty sure I will feel the same when the time comes for me.

Undoubtedly the most precious gift for elder family and friends (or people of any age) is the gift of time - and not just for holidays. You could create a homemade booklet of outings to do together during 2016: a museum, the zoo, a fancy dinner, theater, movies, a promise to go to Fourth of July fireworks together, etc.

You could also show up once every month or two – pre-arranged probably helps – with the all the fixings to cook dinner at home.

The point is time together on a regular basis, not just holidays or a birthday.

Other Stuff
Here are links to four websites with lists of gifts. They are not meant to be exhaustive and I don't necessarily endorse them. But there seem to be some excellent ideas.

Two of the Best Lists I've Seen
Gifts for Grandparents

Two Lists for Friends or Family in Assisted Living
A Place for Mom
Aging Wisely

Among all the above are hundreds of ideas. If you have others to contribute, please feel free in the comments.


What, no Harley-Davidson's?

Adult coloring books replace anti depressants, alcohol, tranquilizers, pain meds and all sorts of mindless activities. Choose any mindless activity that you wish to eliminate from your life (television for example) and start coloring! No crayons, please. Colored pencils and pens are best if you wish to remain within the lines.

Prismacolor colored pencils are beautiful. I'd like the biggest set for Christmas myself. For those of us who are even slightly creative, think about a Zentangle kit, or a Zendoodle book with supplies. I can also recommend buying replacement pieces for old tableware. You can buy replacement single plates and cups online. There are also a lot of new single serve coffee makers out there; and a pound of really nice coffee or tea would be nice too, but remember many of us drink decaf. It might be time to replace old pillows; you can find nice down pillows that make sleeping luxurious.

An electric blanket or an over-sized heating pad (for use on chilly days when it doesn't make sense to heat the whole house or apartment just because you feel a little chilly), or a cardigan (without buttons) that's a little over-sized that can be thrown on over the shoulders or worn over-lapped in front.

"Slipper-socks" with non-skid bottoms to be worn around the house (for men or women) -- they're really warm!

Ink cartridges for printers. Or paper to print photos.

Nightlights that turn into flashlights when you remove them from the wall-fixture.

Install hand-holds next to stairs or toilets or bathtubs.

Rides to-and-from dentist, doctor, grocery store, pharmacy. Or offer to shop for the person once a week or once a month (or when the weather is bad and possibly dangerous for someone who can't get around very well in snow or ice or rain).

Pet-sitting and/or plant watering while the recipient is visiting out of town.

These are just a few ideas -- I'm sure all of you can think of more!

Sometimes I'd just like to have a"cuppa" with a friend. Just drop in.......Dee :)

Dee and Class of 65, I like your style. If people are determined to give gifts, these are good ideas. Personally, I am very gift-phobic (receiving end that is). I could not use one more scented candle or piece of costume jewelry, thank you. No xword puzzle books. I know the intentions are good, but my seeming addiction to crosswords begins and ends with the NY Times daily. No doodads or gewgaws to add to my closet collection, please. I obviously don't need any candy or any other food to add fat to my fat. Keep the decor for your own home, please, since it's much more likely to blend with your tastes than mine.

What a grinch I am! But the idea of a donation pleases me immensely, in my name or not. Just donate---to RIF or Audubon or Planned Parenthood or to my personal favorites: NPR and PBS. When we get old, unless we are needy, we need very little, if anything, in the way of gifts. So the gift is about the giver, but it would be lovely if the giver put some real thought and generosity into the process.

I make almost all of my gifts...personalized for the recipient. Sometimes home baked goodness or a small memento that has significance for the recipient. This year handmade snowmen from a piece of Scottish wool brought to this country by my great grandmother when she emigrated to the USA in the late 1920s.

Gift giving from the heart is a very good thing.

I have actually always loved 'coloring', not to mention putting model airplanes and boats together also, but unfortunately as we get older some of these little joys do have to be put aside unfortunately. To be more specific with regard to the coloring books and models, consumer advocates need to have a warning put on these items....

This product not recommended for consumers who suffer from tremors.

Love those coloring books and colored pencils; ditto on the Prismacolor pencils, really nice soft ones, not too hard and dry. I have two coloring books I saved from the 70's. I used to get the pages copied and my two boys and I would have at it. Still like it and do colors, but similar to Alan, I had to give up making jewelry and doll house furniture, not shaky but hands and fingers s to arthritic to grip, twist, and fasten. So know your giftee. Also please don't gift sugary goodies to the diabetics in your circle, plenty of that around already.

I'd add gloves or mittens with grips on them so a body can open doors and hang on the steering wheel. Colors, think of the coat you see them in if your local. Wool socks, my favorites are Smart wool, washable and warm. Slipper socks with grips. Those little "find me" locator tags to put on your keys, cell phone or wallet or whatever you are most prone to losing.

If you are good with computers, sigh, I know everyone probably asks you but have mercy and give out a "good for a fix" card. Bless you.

And P.S. Christmas light, gift someone with putting up and taking down lights for them, changing out the blubs in their ceiling lights and smoke alarms. Or give them a smoke alarm that works.

Sorry about all the typos, my fingers are in a snit today.

I would love an I Owe You for helping with things I can't do myself like changing ceiling light bulbs, or getting a sliding door back on track, or computer repair, etc. Mostly, I would like visits without any work needs attached to it.

Terrific suggestions and sites to visit for more gifting ideas, thanks. I plan on using some of these for myself and others, as gifts.

Every year I ask close ones what organization they'd like me to gift in their name and why they chose a particular one. It's become a yearly conversation among us.

I also love the 'adult' coloring books-as does my grand daughter who is going on 11..we do it together and like others I copy the page so we can work on the same bird, flower or intricate paisley at the same time.

As others have mentioned I've also been diagnosed with osteoarthritis so fine jewelry making has become more difficult-which sucks because I've sold jewelry on Etsy and eBay for years..this is the first year in 5 that I haven't had an eBay store with turquoise and coral jewelry which incorporates vintage Navajo silver beads. I'm 1/64th Navajo-which gets me nothing-except I can say my jewelry is made by a real Navajo (though the Celtic blood seems to be the dominate genetic strain I show).

If you have an elder who crochets doilies, makes quilts, embroideries pillow cases, makes bird houses or knits ugly sweaters makes candles etc etc for a Church Craft fair or to sell otherwise, consider buying from her/him

Most of us don't want charity but would like to sell our home made craft things. This keeps us off the streets and out of the bars!
elle...Ronni's neighbor in Beaverton, OR

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