Take the surprise out of holiday gift giving

By Jobyna Nickum

If you are like me, you might find yourself at a loss for gift ideas this holiday season. Getting the perfect gifts for older adults and those with special needs can be especially challenging. Following are some quick ideas for those with specific needs in mind. But remember, as my senior focus article last December noted, the most important gift we can give to anyone in our lives – is time. Yep – it is the most difficult thing to do these days. It is so much easier to buy gift cards – but to plan a day, a “get-together” – to slow our busy lives down and share a moment with those we love is one of the greatest gifts we can give and receive. Many of the following gift ideas can be located on the Internet. If you don’t have access to a computer remember that you can use the computers at the Enumclaw Senior Activity Center and the Enumclaw Public Library.

Gifts for Grandkids to Give Grandparents

This list is taken from the Web page Gifts for Grandparents Day, What We Want and What We’re Not Crazy About by Susan Adcox,

• Photographs of grandchildren. One of the nice things about this gift is it works for both grandparents or for grandparents of either gender.

• Something handmade by a grandchild. When it comes to handmade gifts, there are two kinds of grandparents. The first will love anything made by the grandchild and will find a way to display or wear it, even if it is a coffee can covered with macaroni and spray painted gold. The second type will enjoy something handmade only if it is fairly attractive. Both types would enjoy a handmade greeting card, since it is not permanently displayed.

• Something with a personalized message. Since many of us are trying to go green and take our own bags to the store, how about a canvas bag with a photo or the grandchildren’s handprints and a personalized message?

• Something to help us keep up with things. Not that we are in our dotage, but most of us will tell you that we have a harder time remembering things and keeping up with things. Shopping list pads, a keep rack to hang inside the back door, eyeglass holders – all of these could make our lives easier.

• A book to share.

• Something to use daily. Most grandparents enjoy receiving small gifts that they can use daily. When we see the items, we think of our grandchildren, and that’s a good thing. Choose a coffee mug, pencil cup, or writing pen.

• A collection of classics on DVD. Lots of vintage TV shows are now available on DVD. You can choose from collections of classic cartoons, comedy shows and westerns. There are even collections of classic commercials. Choose something that grandparents and grandchildren would enjoy watching together.

• What lots of grandparents don’t want: most of us have far too many candles, lots of them purchased as school fundraisers for the grandchildren. Most of us don’t want candy because it doesn’t fit our diet. Most of us don’t want knick-knacks as we are tired of dusting.

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Frail Elder

These ideas were taken from the Web article by Janienne Jennrich, “Gift Tips for Less Active Seniors and Elders” on the Internet site, These ideas are dependent upon the older person you have in mind for the present. Consider their strengths and weaknesses, needs and wants, and storage space.

• A special magnifier, designed for the elderly.

• Stamped (and perhaps addressed) envelopes with stationery.

• A stuffed animal of a beloved pet, especially if the senior is no longer able to pet the real thing.

• Framed photos of family and friends.

• A personal memory scrapbook.

• A soft, warm throw or afghan.

• Small pillows for propping up the head, arms, or various other body parts.

• A homemade DVD or VHS slide show or home movie.

• A mixed tape of favorite old tunes, spiritual music, or soft instrumentals.

• Other gift ideas can be found in Online Senior Citizen Gift Ideas, Fun Activities for Active Seniors, and Fun Visits with Senior Citizens.

Seniors love thoughtful attention, and often do not expect gifts for Christmas, birthdays, or other holidays. Still, it feels good to show them they are loved and remembered.

Gifts for Grandparents to Give Kids

• Create a Memory Book of your life (school, memories growing up, your first job, the clearest memory of your grandparent is…)

• If you live close enough – how about a gift certificate to take them to the zoo, aquarium, movies? You can include a stuffed toy or DVD movie or book that goes with the “theme” (i.e. a basket might have tickets for the two of you to go to Northwest Trek, a stuffed moose and a book on the wildlife of Washington state).

• How about a lunch date together? Dressed up and everything?

• Books make wonderful gifts – no matter the age of the child. If you go to Lindon Book Store they will recommend the bestselling books for the ages of your grandchildren.

Christmas Gifts for Alzheimer’s Patients

• Identification bracelet like the one offered through MedicAlert Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return.

• comfortable, easy-to-remove clothing

• audiotapes of favorite music or books

• videos of favorite movies, animals, sports team or travel destination

• subscriptions to magazines that reflect hobbies, such as a gardening or cars

• warm blankets or quilts

• photo albums

Gift Ideas for Those with Vision Loss

There are numerous websites on the Internet for both Vision and Hearing Impaired and Loss products. Here are a few:


• Talking Alarm Clocks and Watches

• Talking Calculators

• Large Button Phones

• Low Vision jigsaw Puzzles (specialized for those losing sight)•* Stuffed teddy bears that sign ASL (American Sign Language)

• Bed Shakers (to wake those with hearing loss)

• Many more really cool products that increase independence and quality of life!



Gift Ideas for Those in Skilled Nursing Facilities

* Decorate their room for the holidays (ask the facility for regulations)

* Post a photo board (past travels, family, friends, lots of ideas)

* Make a commitment to visit on a regular basis (and DO IT)

* Colorful throws or afghans

* Colorful lap blankets to coordinate with the seasons

* Bird Feeders outside windows (provide the hangers and bird seed too)

* Small photo album they can easily carry, store to share memories

* Digital photo frame

* Personalized calendars with photos of family, friends, photos from past (camping trips, when children were small, wedding photos, etc…)

* If mobility is compromised – easy to wear clothing, shawls, capes

* Take out for lunch, breakfast, church, stroll in park: once a month (check with MD and facility for regulations).

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