If you are shopping for a gift for a senior citizen, whatever the occasion, then pay attention to these hints. As a senior myself, and hearing from my contemporaries, I can give you a long list of gifts seniors do and do not want!
Let’s begin with the things we do NOT want. First on the list is probably one of those newfangled kitchen appliances. Just because you are a gourmet cook and would love to have a pastamaker, breadmaker, or such, does not mean a senior would. Most of us are tired of years spent in the kitchen making everything from scratch. We eat less now and prefer doing things the way we have for years rather than switching to a new “time-saver.” Oh yes, most of us have welcomed a Mr. Coffee, a microwave, and an electric can opener, but that’s about it!
Second, our homes are already overflowing with knickknacks, and we are tired of dusting them. We would love to put them in a garage sale, but we are afraid our loved ones will notice their absence. Collections have become tiresome to most of us. How many candy dishes, figurines, etc. can we really use or find room for?
Now to the things most seniors DO like to receive as gifts. Gift certificates are always welcome. One of my grown sons went to the beauty shop where I have my hair done and gave them cash to apply to my hairdos for several weeks. “Tell her a secret admirer arranged for it,” he told the owner. When I heard that, I figured out by the process of elimination that the giver was my son and thanked him heartily.
Another son gave me a gift certificate for an oil change and car wash. One year he gave me a gift certificate from the telephone company for the long-distance calls he knew I loved to make to my grandchildren. A daughter-in-law gave me a ticket to a dinner theatre for a play and dinner and then went with me, too! Another son and daughter-in-law gave me a box of items from the supermarket. The items were things I loved but seldom got for myself—macadamia nuts, gourmet coffee and tea, jam, a particular brand of cookies, and all sorts of delicacies!
Taking me at my word when I told her I needed them, a granddaughter gave me a set of dishtowels and dishcloths. Another bought me a roll of postage stamps along with a box of stationery, a pack of ballpoint pens, and a box of assorted greeting cards.
One son installed sensor lights in the back of my house and decorative floodlights on the front lawn to thwart bur- glars.
A friend of mine received similar gifts. A daughter offered to take her shopping at the mall once a month. A son told her he would come over once a month to fix any dripping faucets, change the furnace filter, or do any little repairs. (This was in addition to being on call for real emergencies, such as the furnace going out.) A granddaughter gave a subscription to a magazine she knew her grandmother liked.
Sometimes seemingly odd gifts are real winners. For example, last Christmas my five sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren were all together opening our gifts. When I opened an extra one from a son who had already given a set of videotapes about the Bible, I was shocked—the second gift was a pair of men’s wool socks. “I think this is a mistake, Rog—it must be for someone else,” I said. While everyone laughed, Rog explained, “No, Mom. I wear a pair while working on airplanes (he is an airline mechanic), and my feet stay warm that way. I knew you complained that your feet get cold. These will be great for cold nights in the house!” He was right!
If all else fails, a check or cash is a fine gift. Most seniors are frugal, whether by necessity or choice, and may be reluctant to spend money on themselves unless it is so earmarked. They love to order things they have seen in catalogs or go shopping with the money. One year my sons and I made up a scrapbook for my own mother, filled with pictures of items she might like to buy and attached currency on every page. She was shocked by the generous gift and later wrote delightedly about all the things she had purchased.
All it takes is a little thought to come up with a gift your senior will like.