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