Holiday Gift Guide for Seniors: 12 Present Ideas for 2023

Whether you are celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa, ‘tis the season for gift giving!

Have you ever asked your parent or grandparent what’s on their Christmas list, only to hear back, “I already have everything I need”? When your loved one doesn’t have a wish list they can share, finding the perfect present can be a challenge. But fear not, we’ve put together a list filled with sentimental, practical and entertaining gift ideas for seniors. These are gifts that are sure to please the special people you’re shopping for this year. 

But don’t wait … There aren’t many shopping days left before the end of the holiday season. A thoughtful gift for grandma or grandpa, or for an elderly parent, can go a long way toward spreading holiday cheer this year. 

The best gifts for seniors

1. A genealogy test

There’s a reason the seniors in your life likely bring up family history often. Show them you recognize how important family history is to them by gifting them a genealogy test. 

With easy-to-use tests on the market from companies like Ancestry, 23andMe, MyHeritage and LivingDNA, there are lots of options to choose from. These DNA tests can help you explore genetic similarities and differences amongst relatives and connect you with other people who have similar DNA. 

These tests can trace parts of your ancestry from thousands of years ago and help you learn how your DNA could influence traits and overall health. A simple cheek swab or saliva collection is all that’s needed – it’s simple and painless.

Some testing companies may offer holiday specials. While it might take six to eight weeks for the results to come back, kits are available quickly and can be gift-wrapped in time for your holiday celebration. DNA kits can bring you together with family and create lots of great topics for discussion well into the future. 

2. A photo book of memories

Many seniors have photos of their kids, grandkids and spouses in picture frames around their homes. But after a while, those frames can contribute to clutter and can be hard to keep dusted and looking nice.

Photo books can be a great way to make photos accessible, without the drawbacks of a large collection of framed pictures. Photo books are not only practical, they can also be meaningful keepsakes that will be treasured for years to come. Whether you use photos that are already on display, or hidden treasures from stored albums and photo collections, a photo book can make a great holiday gift. 

To create a photo book, you can use an online service such as Picaboo, Shutterfly, SimplePrints or Snapfish. Or, you can create your own scrapbook or purchase an album that you can fill with specially selected photos. Further customize your photo book with the recipient’s name, or include a handwritten note inside to make the present extra special. This is a gift that really shows how much you care.

3. Photo displays

There are a lot of other meaningful gifts you can make with pictures. Most of the photo service companies listed above allow you to create personalized mugs, blankets, puzzles, magnets and other trinkets. 

You can also create photo calendars with different featured photos each month. These are great gifts for seniors because they are sure to bring a smile, and to be a conversation starter when visitors stop by.

For the tech-savvy senior, a digital frame can also be a great gift idea. These electronic picture frames display favorite pictures on a rotation, taking up less space while adding in more variety. They also create additional gift-giving opportunities as you can create new memory cards with different picture collections to give the digital frame owner in the future. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. 

Keep in mind that photo gifts can be especially meaningful and beneficial for senior loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Easily accessible and visible photos can help spark happy memories. 

4. A day out on the town

The gift of quality time and a memorable experience can easily trump a large or expensive present, especially for seniors. 

Many seniors enjoy staying active and want to spend time out on the town. That’s why so many of our senior living communities offer free transportation to stores and restaurants. Gift your aging parent, grandmother or grandfather with an afternoon or a day together doing something fun. 

This could be as simple as lunch or dinner together at a favorite restaurant. It could be a shopping trip where you offer to buy a new shirt or a new outfit for the senior in your life. Local attractions are another good idea, such as a trip to see holiday lights, a museum or the zoo. If you share an interest in the same kinds of movies or shows, you could visit the theater together.

The gift of time, whether it’s for a one-time event around the holidays or for a regular monthly outing, is so precious for seniors. And it’s a gift you can enjoy together. Quality time with your loved ones allows you to create new memories and photo opportunities together. 

If you are looking for more ideas on how to spend quality time with the seniors in your life, consider checking Groupon. This site offers deals on entertaining activities that are available in your area. Even if you don’t end up using the service, it can still provide great inspiration for gift ideas this holiday season.

5. The gift of help

Has your parent or grandparent ever said how much they enjoy it when you bring them a meal or help them organize their closet? Maybe they appreciate a helping hand when it comes to sifting through junk mail or moving furniture around. Even if someone just drops hints about things they’ve been wanting to get done, they might appreciate your offer for help as a holiday gift.

Taking notice of some of these little tasks or asks  are part of what makes your offer for help a meaningful gift for an elderly relative. You turn those ideas into a coupon book with coupons that can be redeemed with you. 

You could create coupons that are good for a home-cooked meal, an hour of cleaning, or help with a special organization project. Whatever chores you think your loved one would appreciate your help with, you could create redeemable coupons they can give you when they’re ready for your help. 

If you’re really brave, you can even add in some “create your own chore” coupons for them to cash in with you. And the best part? You get to spend time together talking, laughing and sharing stories while you’re providing help to the special seniors in your life.

Grandkids can get involved in this type of project or gift too. They can create their own coupon books with assorted colors of construction paper, a perfect holiday craft. They can offer their grandparents extra hugs and kisses, a massage, or the chance to take a picture together. The opportunities are as endless as their imagination!

6. The gift of music

While mixtapes or CDs may sound cheesy to you, they make a great gift for seniors. Remember the song playing on the radio when you had your first date? Catch yourself humming the tune to one of your favorite old TV shows? Your elderly loved one definitely has tunes that spark memories and smiles, just like you do. Compiling the music you know has a special meaning for someone is a thoughtful way to show you’re paying attention, and that you care.

Happy senior man receiving a Christmas present from his grandson from a senior gift guide

Sure, you could buy them a subscription to Sirius XM where they can sing along to songs on the Beatles Channel or 50s Gold in their home. But why not put in the extra effort instead to gather up their old albums and tapes that are in storage and turn them into CDs or digital files for them to enjoy? Crosley offers record players that have a vintage look but feature CD players and tape decks.

This present can also be a great way to introduce a senior to new technologies, especially if they have your help getting acquainted with the technology. It can help cut down on the frustration of learning something new on their own. The end product will be music to their ears!

7. Capture their story

Seniors love to share their stories and their history. Wouldn’t it be a special gift to give the senior in your life the opportunity to document their story in a special way?

This could be through a video interview you record on your phone and share with them. It could be helping them create a family tree or record names and dates on old photos. It could be helping them write up a short autobiography that captures the highlights and milestones of their youth. If you need a little help, services like Storyworth can help you compile memories into a keepsake item. 

There are a lot of different ways to help someone capture their story. All of them involve listening and learning about the senior in your life, which makes them feel special and loved. It can be an incredible gift to give them, and can benefit others in your family as well. 

If you have someone in your life who is hard to shop for, this could be the perfect gift. It’s also a gift you can build on in future years when you’re looking for more creative gift ideas. 

8. A hobby basket

Almost everyone has a hobby or activity that they enjoy spending their time doing. A hobby basket can help organize supplies, and can include some fun materials and ideas for future projects.  

Many of our Sonida senior living communities offer arts and crafts classes on a regular basis. Seniors who receive a hobby basket from a friend or relative would have a great gift to show off to their friends and neighbors at the next get together. For example, a crafting basket could include a glue gun, various kinds of scissors, glue sticks, tape, markers, colored pencils and construction paper. 

If the senior in your life loves bingo, it might be thoughtful to create a basket that includes distinct color daubers or chips. It could even feature a lucky charm such as a keychain or a specialty T-shirt. 

You could also ask the activities director at your loved one’s community about supplies they regularly use for group events. Gifting unique items can help a senior stand out in group activities and make them the envy of the room.

9. A monthly subscription

It’s the present that keeps on giving long after the holiday season! A monthly subscription for coffee, flowers, wine, cheese or beer could end up costing you less than buying a single big-ticket item. Subscription gifts also make someone feel loved and appreciated well beyond the holidays. Another benefit? Most of these gift ideas don’t take up much space.

Whether it’s for three, six, nine or 12 months, your parents, grandparents or elderly loved ones can look forward to a special delivery while their subscription lasts. It might even create the perfect excuse for them to have friends or neighbors over to visit.

If you purchase a subscription, it could be helpful to provide your loved one with a schedule letting them know when they can expect to receive their shipments.

10. A streaming subscription

There are even subscriptions that take up absolutely no space, such as streaming subscriptions for music or TV programming. There are numerous streaming options on the market, including Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime Video. These make a great present for seniors who enjoy watching television and movies in their free time. 

A monthly or yearly subscription to a streaming service where seniors can watch their favorite shows can provide hours of entertainment. With their own accounts, this also means family members won’t need to keep asking you for the password to your account!

Audible is also an excellent option for seniors who like to listen to audiobooks and podcasts. This can be a great gift for someone who loves to read, but might have trouble with their vision.

If you love the idea of a streaming subscription, but you’re on a limited budget, consider checking into what your local library offers. You may be able to get streamed television programming and audio books with your library card. Getting this set up for the senior in your life could be a good gift option that comes at no cost, and with a longer subscription period than most paid services.

11. A new electronic device

In this day and age, it seems like everyone has at least one electronic device, whether it be a smartphone, smartwatch or laptop. If the senior in your life is comfortable using technology, consider one of these gifts this holiday season:

Senior couple having fun playing video games
  • iPad: Seniors can watch videos on YouTube or browse the web on a larger screen than that available on a cellphone.
  • Amazon Kindle: Seniors who enjoy reading can now purchase multiple book titles and store them on one device. You can also give Amazon Kindle gift cards to help someone build up their book collection on their Kindle.
  • Amazon Echo: Give the gift of “Alexa,” the AI voice service that can help with tasks such as answering questions, playing music or compiling a grocery list.
  • Gaming console: We recommend the Nintendo Switch, Xbox or Playstation. Nintendo Wii is also a great gaming console for seniors, although you would need to purchase one through a reseller, such as on eBay, since the product was officially discontinued.

12. A relaxing experience

Treat the senior in your life to a cozy and soothing gift. Here are a few ideas that will surely please most parents and grandparents:

  • Weighted blanket: These blankets provide extra warmth and comfort for anyone who always seems to be cold.
  • Back massager: Various back massagers are available at most department stores. Massagers are a good way to relax and unwind after a long day. 
  • Heating pad: If your loved one suffers from aches and pains, there are heating pads available for different parts of the body, including shoulders, back and knees.
  • Compression socks: Older adults can greatly benefit from these socks, which improve circulation and prevent fluid buildup.
  • Spa gift cards: For the ultimate relaxing experience, consider a gift card for a massage at a local spa.

Gifting tips for seniors

If you didn’t find the perfect gift idea above, maybe some quick tips on gifting for seniors can help you come up with your own perfect gift idea.

Gifts for parents

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for gift ideas. Your parents might have a wish list you’ll only know about if you ask. If they don’t, you might consider asking them to create one for you.
  2. Consider getting the kinds of gifts you enjoy receiving. You might be very different from your parents, but the chances are you have some shared interests and values. 
  3. What about a gift to help support their health? Whether this is paying for their gym membership or buying a new pair of tennis shoes, thoughtful gifts that support good health can show that you care.
  4. Gift a shared subscription. If you purchase subscriptions that can be shared with others for a discounted cost, such as Netflix or Spotify, these can be great gift options for parents. It can be an affordable way to introduce your parents to something new that they’ll likely enjoy well beyond the holidays. 
  5. Problem solving gifts. Is there a common complaint or issue that comes up in conversations with your parents? Whether it’s gutter guards or a new ice maker, gifts that help solve a problem show that you’ve been paying attention, and will likely be greatly appreciated.

Gifts for grandparents

  1. Get involved. Any gift that includes your participation or presence is likely to go over well with grandparents. Even if you’re only able to participate virtually, such as through a virtual reality game, gifts that come with quality time from a grandchild are almost always well received.
  2. Ask friends and neighbors. Don’t be afraid to ask for gift ideas from your grandparents’ friends and neighbors, or staff at their senior living community. There might be an activity or hobby you can help support with a thoughtful gift this holiday season.
  3. Consider health limitations. It can be helpful to know if there are foods or activities that are off limits so you can avoid giving a gift that can’t be enjoyed. Maybe knowing what someone can’t have can also spark a good idea for what they might enjoy, like sugar-free chocolates for a grandparent who has diabetes.
  4. What about a new tradition? Maybe you can start a new tradition with your gift that will make gift giving even easier in the future. This could be a hand-made card or momento they can expect during the holidays, a special serenade or poem, or an annual trip to see the Nutcracker ballet.
  5. Technology gifts. Seniors don’t always know about the latest and greatest technology advancements. Gifts can help introduce them to modern technology that might make their life easier or more enjoyable, even if they’re not particularly tech-savvy. Just be sure to provide the help and support they need to get used to the new technology. 

Happy Holidays from Sonida Senior Living!

No matter how big or small the gift for your loved one is, it’s important to remember the true meaning of the holiday season. Savor your ability to celebrate that with the loved ones in your life. 

For all of the residents who make their home with Sonida, we wish you a very happy holiday season!

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Two female adult friends walking through the city streets at Christmas. They are talking and smiling as they do some Christmas shopping.
Two female adult friends walking through the city streets at Christmas. They are talking and smiling as they do some Christmas shopping.

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