Holiday Gift Ideas: What Your Elderly Relatives REALLY Want This Year

Most everyone loves giving (and getting) gifts during the holidays. If an older loved one is on your shopping list, it’s easy to fall into a gift giving rut. What do you get for loved ones who already have everything? How do you buy for people who may tell you they don’t need anything?

Gift shopping for older relatives becomes much easier when you focus on simplicity and practicality. When you’re scouring the stores (or the internet) for gifts this year, try these ideas:

  • Digital or talking clock
  • Lap desk for reading and writing
  • Warm, cozy socks
  • Lamp for night table that can be turned on or off with a single touch
  • Basket filled with everyday necessities like paper, pen, tissues, etc.
  • Large print book of crossword puzzles or word find puzzles (find them at Dollar Tree)
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Large print books in topics that interest your loved one, such as devotional books, collections of short stories, biographies, and fiction
  • Audio books
  • Lip balm
  • Magnifying glass
  • A set of stick-on night lights
  • Easy grip flashlight
  • Snacks and treats appropriate for your loved one’s diet (place them in zip-lock bags or containers)
  • Homemade meals or soups in individual small-portion freezer containers
  • High-quality coffee or tea
  • An afghan or fleece throw
  • Something to hang on a wall or door (like a decorative, easy-to-read large-print wall calendar)
  • Cordless electric toothbrush
  • Device that plays music that will be easy for your loved one to use, along with favorite music (this could be a vintage CD player along with CDs of your loved one’s favorite musical artists)
  • Letter-writing materials, including stamps, stationery, or a greeting card assortment
  • Electric shaver for gentlemen
  • Photo album you have filled with special picture
  • Framed photo or photo collage
  • Wind chimes to hang
  • Products for bath and body, such as perfume, pump-dispensed hand or body lotion, and pump-dispensed shower gel
  • Costume jewelry such as earrings or bracelets with stretch elastic or a magnetic clasp
  • Nightgown or comfy loose-fitting robe


For many older adults, your presence is the best gift of all. If your loved one is living at home or in a facility that allows you to visit, try these ideas:

  • Plan a game night of cards, checkers, or chess.
  • Work together on a scrapbook to commemorate a memorable event.
  • Plan a movie night where you watch a flick on your computer.
  • Run an errand for your loved one.
  • Help your loved one write letters, Christmas cards or thank-you notes.
  • Assemble a collection of holiday songs on your digital music player, then bring it to your visit so you and your loved one can enjoy holiday songs together.
  • Share laughter or companionship during a special visit.
  • Bring carry out meals and have lunch or dinner on the porch.
  • Work on a craft project together, such as knitting, crocheting, or sewing.


If your loved one’s facility prohibits in-person visits, a family Zoom or Facetime call may be an option.

As you consider gifts for your elderly loved one, please keep in mind that not every suggestion on the list will be appropriate for every person. Use what you know about your relative to find gifts that take their needs and preferences into consideration.

It’s also important to consider where the person lives. If your loved one is still living at home, you can get almost anything. If he or she lives in a nursing home, there may be restrictions. Space may be at a premium. Valuables can get mislaid or go missing. And, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be restrictions on how gifts can be delivered. You’ll want to call the facility beforehand to make sure you know the rules.

Happy holidays!