When my Grandma Patty turned 98 years old, she had a party to celebrate her big day and feasted on angel food cake, soup and breadsticks. She was, and I quote, “tickled” by the whole day and the great party turnout. She kept saying to our family, “Can you believe I am 98 years old?!”
Nope Grandma, we don’t.
My grandma is almost an entire century old, but she still gets dressed up like she’s headed to church, is mindful of what she eats and avoids sugary sweets, gets her hair done once a week and still gets as giddy as a five-year-old when she sees a present headed her way.
As far as gift-giving goes, buying gifts for Grandma Patty can be tricky. There’s nothing she needs per se, yet there are things she would like to have, but space is a bit limited in her downsized living space.
When it comes to gifts for seniors it’s all about finding the right balance, according to Debbie Elson, LPN, and a long-term care nurse of 37 years.
“Seniors want practical and fun gifts,” says Elson. “They would like things they actually need and will actually use.”
They appreciate creature comforts such as lotions, soaps, perfumes, nail care, comfortable shoes, small candies in a dish and small plants for their window sills, shares Elson.
Seniors would prefer not to receive overly extravagant or pricey gifts, she adds. They are also not huge fans of gift cards. “Absolutely, no gift cards!” she emphasizes.
Something seniors do have plenty of room in their homes and in their hearts is a nice surprise from their families. Seniors love a little touch of the unexpected and love it when their families go the extra mile. Elson has seen some of the families of her seniors unveil gifts with a pop-up card, a drop-by from the family pet or with a surprise visit from older grandchildren and/or great grandchildren.
Lastly, and certainly not least, when it comes to seniors and gifts, don’t just assume you know what your senior wants. At the retirement community where Elson works, seniors are already busy writing their lists, checking them twice and comparing them next to the Target circular.
As the experts and my Grandma Patty tell us, gifts with a bit of feeling, a little thought and a heap of practicality will always hit the right note when it comes to the folks who believe that growing older is inevitable, but growing up is optional.
Here is a roundup of great gifts for seniors that are expertly suggested and Grandma Patty-approved.
Gift ideas for senior women and senior men
Following Elson's "fun" gift advice, this abstract painting kit could be a winner. It comes with everything needed to help the senior in your life get their creativity flowing, including paint, brushes, a 2-by-16-inch canvas and more. It's great for beginners, too, in case they're hoping to explore a new hobby.
Collecting mementos and memories in the form of photo books and scrapbooks is a tried and true way to preserve and cherish special moments, but have they ever had a video book? This page-turner captures videos that they can look back on time and time again. From surprise birthday parties to gender reveals, easily upload videos to the site, then send it to them to enjoy.
Whether in the comfort of their own home or on the road, this sound machine/speaker is a great gift for the senior in your life. It features two ocean sounds and 20 fan sounds to promote a more restful sleep.
A new hobby deserves some new and ready to go equipment for your senior. Easy to grip and ready to play, this gift set includes two paddles, four outdoor/indoor pickleballs and one equipment bag.
Warm, fuzzy and comfortable for the senior that is on the move or relaxing on the couch, these Dearfoams Moccasin slippers are designed with memory foams insoles, feature wick-away fabric and are sure to keep your senior feeling cozy and styling on season long.
For the bookworm, a page-turner that arrives every month like clockwork. Your senior will be able to choose from a selection of books each month, pick their favorite and voilà, it’s at their doorstep. Book of the Month subscriptions are available in three-, six- and 12-month intervals.
Cozy up with this heated polyester throw blanket lined with velvet material on one side and sherpa material on the other. It includes one easy-to-use controller with a large button to choose between four warmth settings. There are even foot (and hand!) pockets on the inside for added comfort while lounging.
Make any chair a rocking chair with this portable support rocker. As a remote worker, I enjoy this rocker for the strain it takes off my always achy back. As an avid crocheter, my mom enjoys it for its ability to swing her crafting comfort level up by two notches.
A luxurious gift for a coziness aficionado, this long PJ set is made with temperature regulating knit fabric, that fits and feels as good as it looks. Machine-washable and gentle on the skin, these jammies may wear fancy, but they launder easily.
I shared this gift with my son’s grandma just last year and she loved it. Through the magic of technology, I am able to beam photos straight to my mom’s frame. She doesn’t miss a moment thanks to this no-fuss digital picture frame.
Deck the halls and freshen the air of your senior's home, courtesy of this powerful midsize wonder. This air purifier can clean up to a 853 square foot room in one hour flat, according to the brand. Said to have the strength to knock out 99% of airborne allergens and a proven track record in the reduction of everyday unpleasant household odors, this gift will be the gift that keeps on giving day in and day out.
I have been threatening to steal the heat mat from my chiropractor’s office for years, but now I don’t have to, and neither will your senior with this heated stretching mat from HoMedics. This mat features six stretching programs, offers three levels of intensity, provides relaxing and restorative heat and can be unrolled, rolled out and stored with ease for space-conscious seniors.
This simple yet savvy gadget was designed with seniors in mind and is one of my grandma’s very favorite connectivity tools. With easy-to-use apps, a private family network and built-in 4G, the GrandPad makes it simple for seniors to scroll, shop, search and just say hello.
Inexpensive gifts for seniors
Never liked the look of Yellowstone or always thought Yosemite could use a bit more color? Let your seniors re-envision the look and palette of their favorite national park with this fun and creative coloring book. It features 32 landscapes found in some of North America’s most gorgeous open spaces.
If they love diving into books, this set will be a beautiful addition to any reading nook, plus, you can get it personalized for them.
With prompted pages asking Grandma simple questions like if she's a morning or night person or if she has a lucky number to more questions relating to her childhood, this booklet is loved by reviewers because it's sentimental and perfect for bonding. There's also a version for grandpas if he wants to join in on the introspective fun.
Practicality with a modern twist! The Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol. 1 puts your phone where your money is — or is it your money where your phone is? Either way, this durable and sleek phone case doesn’t just keep your phone safe, it also keeps your cards and cash close and protected with its built-in card holder. The case holds up to three credit cards plus cash and is available for most iPhone devices.
Ease sore muscles with this soft and warm hot water bottle, available in seven shades.
Awww, a game in which our differences really bring us together. The generations face off on this fun and quirky game from uncommon goods. Boomers tackle questions that are no brainers to their millennial friends, while millennials mull over, “What is a transistor radio?”
Shopping for a tea lover? They're sure to adore these animal-shaped loose-leaf tea infusers. Each silicone infuser has a hollow body for tea along with arms that latch onto the rim of the cup (except for the owl, which has a tea bag-inspired string attached). They're dishwasher-safe, too, which is a plus.
Whether they think that store-bought is fine or strives to impress with their dishes even during a random Tuesday dinner, Ina Garten's comforting (and bestselling) cookbook is here to help. With 85 recipes transforming nostalgic bites into new-fashioned staples, we're sure they'll be dogearring several pages in this read.
An excellent accompanying gift to a Book of the Month subscription or to any dinner menu in a dimly lit restaurant, this ultra bright LED page magnifier. This page magnifier enhances the viewing area by 500%. Light to carry and easy to hold, the MagniPros Page Magnifier features three lighting modes and, better yet, features only one button to control it all.
With over 9,400 verified five-star ratings, this mug is a favorite item for those looking for an easy way to keep their morning java just how they like it.
Unlike various mugs with standard handles, this heavy-duty option has a built-in cave for your hand to help keep you warm while you sip. It's made with durable ceramic that's both microwave- and dishwasher-safe. Plus, the mug's available in so many rustic color combinations, along with both right- and left-handed designs.
Again, according to Elson, many seniors enjoy "small candies in a dish" — so why not fill this classic, yet gorgeous clear glass dish with their favorite candy? It's a simple yet heartfelt gift that you can personalize with different treats. Plus, the dish itself is dishwasher-safe.
Allie Wise, an associate editor at Shop TODAY, gifted these preserved roses to her grandma. She says, "I bought my grandma these preserved flowers for her 90th. Since she isn’t as agile as she used to be, they made a nice gift since she didn’t have to take care of them like regular flowers."
In addition to pink, they're available in hot pink, red and yellow, making them perfect for various occasions.
Straight from Oprah's Favorite Things, this journal can help the senior you know jot down old memories, new curiosities or even plans for the future.
Spicing up the Scrabble mix with three games in one, the Joy for All Scrabble Bingo brings vintage Scrabble to the game table, plus two new Scrabble family games; Scrabble Bingo and Scrabble Pass. Designed to include all members in your next family game night, this game features easy to read lettering, as well as larger to see and easier to manage tiles.
Home and food gifts for seniors
For a caffeine-free beverage that won't keep them up as they're trying to wind down for the night, opt for this herbal retreat box from Tea Forté. Filled with variations of fruity infusions from blueberries to kiwi lime, they're sure to find a new favorite flavor.
Play into their sweet tooth with this sugar-free peanut brittle bark that combines dark chocolate with peanut butter to create a savory, delicious treat.
Give the senior you know the gift of the smell of warm pudding wafting through the air with this batch of goodies cookies from Magnolia Bakery.
If you're shopping for someone who enjoys cooking, this cookbook stand could be helpful. Its slanted, kickstand design and metal page holder helps keep cookbooks upright and on an angle that makes it simple to read recipes in a busy kitchen. Plus, the chic wooden design is totally timeless.
If they love spending time in the kitchen, this custom-cutting board will get tons of use.
For the coffee lover who doesn’t want to brew an entire pot, the Keurig K-Express Single Serve Coffee Maker hits the spot. It occupies minimal counter space and offers the flexibility to brew up your senior’s favorite K-cup beverage or a cup from their favorite grounds.
Treating your senior this holiday season is as easy as a slice of salami! Or is it pastrami? Doesn’t matter, because both meats are included in this delicious bundle from New York’s famous Katz Delicatessen. A perfect treat for a holiday morning or for family brunch, this package includes a pound of pastrami, a pound of corned beef, a pound of salami, a half loaf seedless rye bread, a quart of full sour pickles, six Katz’s frankfurters, 12 frankfurter buns, mustard, sauerkraut, 6 classic New York bagels and a partridge in a pear tree. (Just kidding.)
Give your senior a cozy night by the fire with this easy to light and easy to move Solo Fire Pit. Designed to keep up to two to four people toasty and cozy, this firepit focuses on the fire not the smoke with its Signature 360 airflow and double wall construction.