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Gift ideas for elders during a pandemic


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I think I start a thread about finding gifts for these people every year.  You did not disappoint last year!

I need Christmas gift ideas for a couple in their mid-80s that live independently in their own home.  They are very very VERY hard to gift.  Here are the parameters:

Cannot involve food in any way. They have many unknown-to-me food restrictions.  

They are very Covid concerned and rarely leave the house. So experience gifts like museum memberships or concert tickets will not be used.  They are not currently doing take out and for sure no in person restaurant dining.

They are hoarders so I hesitate to contribute to that problem. No knickknacks, for instance.

One has an allergy to live plants so flowers are out.

They buy anything they need as they need it.  This also means they have every "service" like delivery and yard care covered.

They do not like/use scented or luxury items like candles, bubble bath, etc....

They do not drink alcohol.

They do not enjoy reading, puzzles, or playing games.

They are both mobility limited and *very* hard of hearing.

I have absolutely no idea on clothing sizes and they are both very picky about clothing in general so that is off the table.

They are not family to us so things like personalized calendars or mugs are not really appropriate.

They do not do a tree so ornaments are out.

We live ten hours away so we cannot gift them our services in any way.  Not to mention Covid.

 

Last year someone here suggested an indoor/outdoor digital weather station.  This was a huge hit and something I never would have thought of.  One year I made them microwavable corn bags in various sizes which they loved so much, they wore them out and I got to gift them a second set a few years later.....which was very handy for me!  They used to travel internationally a great deal and have a particular interest in all things Scandinavian, so that is one lead.  

We are not family but they have no family of their own.  They do not have children and all of their relatives have passed on.  They used to be quite social but many/most of their friends have either passed away or are in locked down senior living situations.  Aside from their pastor, I think I am the only one who checks in on them.  For instance, I was the one to sew and mail them masks as they had no idea how to safely get some on their own at that time.  Ours might be the only gifts they get this year.  It does not have to be fancy....in fact it can't be too fancy as our budget is quite limited.  

Work your magic mighty Hive!

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Do they have any travel memorabilia that you could frame for them?  I don't know it that is contributing to the hoarding problem, or by being on the wall might be different.  My mother was an actor and I plan to frame one of her publicity photos from the 1950s for her.

Building on the PP - window-mounted bird feeder?  if sight is bad, that brings the birds right within view.  Something like this:

https://shopping.rspb.org.uk/window-feeders/window-bird-feeder.html

Do they like to watch wildlife/ the neighbours?  Binoculars? 

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A personalized calendar does not have to be family pictures. You could make one with nature or architecture photographs. Or just send a commercial wall calendar.

Do they write cards? I had some custom notecards made for a friend, using photographs from her farm.

Edited by regentrude
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3 minutes ago, wathe said:

That is hard.

How do they spend their time?

Are do they have causes they support?  Would a donation in their name to a favorite cause be appreciated?

 

 

We have done donations in the past.  I don't think they really got into that.  They donate to charities on a level WAY above what we can afford to spend on a gift so that might be it.  I also think they really enjoy getting a physical gift.

I'm not sure how they spend their time now.  Before the pandemic, the were very active in their church, participated in multiple singing groups, went to the senior gym daily, ate out almost daily, and were active in some special interest societies.  My guess is that they watch a lot of TV.

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Just now, regentrude said:

A personalized calendar does not have to be family pictures. You could make one with nature or architecture photographs.

Do they write cards? I had some custom notecards made for a friend, using photographs from her farm.

I thought about something like this or the travel memorabilia idea.  I just don't have any of their photos to use.  They don't even own a computer so I'd need physical copies which would be hard to get from them, I think.  They isolate their mail for a minimum if 7 days so any process involving physical exchange of photos would likely take too long to get gifts to them a minimum of 7 days before Christmas.  I have seen really cool photos of their wedding, 50+ years ago, but don't know how to get them.

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2 minutes ago, regentrude said:

Or forget about physical gift item and write them a lovely letter?
Looks like they really don't need stuff. 

That is very true!  We exchange letters pretty often.  I am not a "keeper" but I wish I had one of theirs from years ago that I could do something with.

They really don't need any stuff.  At all.  But I think this year especially, I'd hate for them to have nothing to open on Christmas morning.  I wish food were an option.

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I bought each of my parents an advent calendar for this year. A lot of the holiday activities they might normally do are cancelled. It will give them something to look forward to each day. There are lots out there- teas and toys and themes..  

I got my dad this wire puzzle one, these kinds of things are his favorite and I look forward to the day he makes all the grandkids do all of them lol:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07W7YM2KH/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_fabt1_HpuTFbKBDFT5G?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

I got my mom this one that makes a charm bracelet - she loves costume charm bracelets- I need to run out and get a larger bracelet base for her. 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GLK6JQH/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_fabt1_UruTFbMYXA74Q?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

I got this puzzle one for my own family to share :

https://www.worldmarket.com/product/professor+puzzle+jigsaw+advent+calendar.do?sortby=ourPicks&from=Search

and this mystery one:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/3946120423/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_fabt1_.tuTFbXCSDVQZ

And then I've started filing stockings for them to open on Christmas morning. My dad loves gadgets and my mom loves knick knacks so stockings are actually pretty easy for them. They never really did stockings for each other but they both love opening lots of little things more than one big package. 

Edited by theelfqueen
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I remember this couple!

I like the bird feeder idea.  You could add a membership to Project FeederWatch or info to the Great Backyard Bird Count.  Or ... a hummingbird feeder and food, and info about Journey South/North.

What about a subscription box (or a one off box) of Scandinavian items?  I googled Scandinavian box and several came up.

Also, another poster on a different thread suggested a DIY “month club” - her kids are sending a used book once a month.  Or special ingredients/utensils for a recipe.  She described it better, it sounded really cool.  Maybe you could think of some small item that they like, and send it monthly.

Good luck.  It’s pretty special that you are in their lives.  

 

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Lots of great ideas!  I am filing some of these away for next year.  Maybe I won't have to bug you all again.

The solar ball light is a for sure and I think I am going to look for some choral, exercise, and/or travel DVDs although I am not certain they have a player.  I think they would LOVE the livestream tickets but they don't have a computer.  I like the subscription box idea too.  I have done the bird feeder gift.  Twice, actually.  But they now have too much trouble keeping the feeders full.  Even the window kind.  This will be my 25th year coming up with gifts for this couple so it's hard not to recycle!

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As several other posters suggested, a bird feeder can be nice.  Or, some other outdoor decorative item, depending upon their space--windchimes, a yard flag, a windsock.  

If they write letters often, some type of stationery or note cards

A calendar with travel-style pictures

A candle holder (with unscented candle) that is stained glass or something else special

A couple of Christmas themed placemats/napkins for special meals during the holidays.  Some other holiday themed decor item for a bit of celebration since they don't have a tree 

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I got my mom a light mobile for her pool deck last year. She was pretty happy with it.     https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07QS8RZ3F/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

We've gotten FIL train trip DVDs a few times. He could feel like he was riding the train without ever leaving home. Scandinavian train trip here: https://www.amazon.com/Scandinavia-by-Train/dp/B00076HMMQ

Do they decorate for Christmas at all? I used my grandmother's hymnals to make an angels one year. https://thehappyhousewife.com/home-management/how-to-make-a-hymnal-angel/ Or a pretty (fake floral) wreath to hang on the door?

 

 

 

 

 

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I bought my parents a dvd player and the entire LOST series. They are the same age as your friends (late 80s) and can't hear. They turn on captions (I helped from 5000 miles away😂) and away they go. It gives us something to chat about, too. Maybe there is a series they would like?

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I usually send all sorts of goodies to my parents and in-laws in my home country. Lots of websites delivery practically everything, not just amazon. So I was spoiled for choice.

But the pandemic sort of threw a wrench into that when no one was delivering anything. So we paid their house taxes and vehicle insurance. They were not amused, but it was a practical gift in a year when the mail was not reliable and delivery was non-existent. 

Past gifts have included CCTVs, Alexa, subscriptions to music, kindles, netflix. I still send a few things, but we also buy things they would never buy for themselves.

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Since they liked the bird feeders, could you gift them a book of "Birds of......" (Their state/region) and then hire a neighbor kid to come fill the bird feeder for them?

I know my mom loves hers and she like the book we got her as it groups birds by color and focuses on the ones in her area 

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For one set of parents, we go in with siblings to pay for snow removal.  The others we send a holiday centerpiece and a gift card for dinner at a restaurant.  ETA: This year I think we'll make sure the restaurant delivers.  

Edited by klmama
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7 hours ago, theelfqueen said:

And then I've started filing stockings for them to open on Christmas morning. My dad loves gadgets and my mom loves knick knacks so stockings are actually pretty easy for them. They never really did stockings for each other but they both love opening lots of little things more than one big package. 

Please share what you're doing for the stockings!  I just started doing them for my folks last year, and they love them, too.  I need ideas,   Love the Advent calendars, too!

 

I was going to suggest a Christmas centerpiece.  I got one years ago and enjoyed it.  I don't think you could go wrong with fruit...

 

Edited by Tina
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A stained glass ornament to hang in a window.

Christmas music.

An emergency radio, solar and/or hand crank. 

Roller foot massager.

Hand weights and printout of workouts.

More masks, perhaps in special patterns, fabrics (silk?) or colors.

Unscented hand sanitizer or wipes.

A magazine in any area of interest--single copy or subscription.

A bird book where you can hit a button to play bird calls.

Scarves or electric blanket throws for meeting people outdoors in winter.

Ask them if there's anything they'd like or could use--it might surprise you what they come up with and feel like they can't get from their usual delivery services. 

Last but not least, it's so lovely that you care for and remember this couple!

Edited by Acadie
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/18/2020 at 9:01 AM, theelfqueen said:

I bought each of my parents an advent calendar for this year. A lot of the holiday activities they might normally do are cancelled. It will give them something to look forward to each day. There are lots out there- teas and toys and themes..  

...

I got this puzzle one for my own family to share :

https://www.worldmarket.com/product/professor+puzzle+jigsaw+advent+calendar.do?sortby=ourPicks&from=Search

 

Just came back to say -puzzle advent calendar is dumb and I opened the whole thing today lol I thought each little sub day would be a part of the puzzle to put together but each day was just random pieces. I decided we weren't interested in waiting til the end of the month to have pieces to put together. So forget it. I opened it and built the puzzle. 

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Battery operated candles

Special handmade soap

There is a fairly recent translation of an old Lutheran prayer book, and I just love it.  Lots to think about for sure:  https://www.amazon.com/Lutheran-Prayer-Companion-Concordia-Publishing/dp/0758659334/ref=pd_lpo_14_img_0/138-7871025-2511801?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0758659334&pd_rd_r=07392364-7cfe-4dbb-a3ed-44d41ebd38f2&pd_rd_w=yo02a&pd_rd_wg=Ae3Qt&pf_rd_p=7b36d496-f366-4631-94d3-61b87b52511b&pf_rd_r=V2M415JBXJ8EK78YGCGX&psc=1&refRID=V2M415JBXJ8EK78YGCGX

 

Also, if they like Scandenavian stuff AND are Christian, another recent translation is one of the best Christian novels I have ever read:  https://www.walmart.com/ip/Faith-Alone-The-Heart-of-Everything-Paperback-9781948969352/295860955

I know you said they don't read but surely a prayer or two...the novel might be too much, though.

A CD of the Trapp Family Singers' Christmas music might be nice.

People with food sensitivities can often still use spice mixes, not necessarily for what they are made for.  Like, mulling spices can be used just to make the kitchen smell nice.  

I used to make pomander balls for my grandparents--sticking cloves densely into an orange or tangerine and then fashioning a hanging ribbon net for it.  This can go in the closet or drawer, and it's disposable eventually.  

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10 hours ago, theelfqueen said:

Just came back to say -puzzle advent calendar is dumb and I opened the whole thing today lol I thought each little sub day would be a part of the puzzle to put together but each day was just random pieces. I decided we weren't interested in waiting til the end of the month to have pieces to put together. So forget it. I opened it and built the puzzle. 

Well, that’s a bummer! I just saw this thread and put that puzzle one on my list of ideas for next year! 

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