Senior Citizen Gift Guide

Gift ideas for the elderly

One the most common questions around holidays is what gifts are perfect for senior citizens? I've written a few posts with gift guides.

 This year, I'm dedicating a whole page to this topic and giving you an in-depth gift guide for the elderly!

Since seniors are all different, and so are their circumstances, I've tried to include as many ideas as possible to suit a wide range of personalities and lifestyles.

  Please choose gifts with care based on what you personally know about your elderly loved one or friend. Pay attention to physical, mental, environmental and dietary needs and restrictions when choosing appropriate gifts.

Here are some of my recommendations, and many of these gifts are great for any occasion!

                                     *Post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.*

Stocking Stuffers for the Elderly 

Stocking stuffers are my favorite part of Christmas shopping, but lots of people get stuck in this area, especially when buying for senior citizens. My tip is to find a good balance between items that are fun and practical. No one wants an all-boring stocking, but one that is only filled with silly stuff might be disappointing too.

Instead, aim for a few things that are practical year round (such as flashlights), a few things that are fun but useful (such as nail polish) and a few things that your loved one will enjoy but would probably never buy because for themselves (a novelty keychain or fancy checkbook cover).

Its okay to throw in a gag gift or two as long as you know it won't hurt their feelings, and its okay to come up with something "boring"  that you know they need such as socks or a new calculator.

The nice part about stocking stuffers is that you can use the same list year after year, since many of the items will be used up or need replacing. You can even make it a tradition to add a certain gift each year as your "trademark".

NOTE: Stocking stuffer ideas can also be used anytime you need small gifts, such as for an Easter basket, Halloween gift basket, birthday gift basket or other gift-giving occasion.

A few ideas to get you started:

  • Lip balm
  • Keychain (monogrammed, Zodiac, photo, quote, favorite animal, etc.) 
  • Magnets
  • Lotion
  • Pen knife
  • Poker chips
  • Fun Playing cards
  • Socks
  • Hand warmers
  • Ink pens
  • Sunglasses
  • Perfume
  • Body spray
  • Aftershave
  • Make-up
  • Nail polish sets
  • Manicure tools
  • Change purse
  • Stress balls
  • Hand exercisers
  • Personalized coasters
  • Jewelry
  • Watches
  • Wallet
  • Suspenders or belt
  • Shoelaces
  • Thimble
  • Decals
  • Button Pins (world's best Gramma, etc.)
  • Worry dolls
  • Dice
  • Small flashlight
  • Calculator
  • Can coolers
  • Candy
  • Snacks
  • Zippo 
  • Washi tape
  • Lures
  • Air freshener plug-ins
  • Car fresheners
  • Gloves
  • Winter hats
  • Scarves
  • USB drive
  • Disposable camera
  • Extra memory cards
  • Sharpie markers
  • Knitting needles or crochet hooks
  • Personalized checkbook cover
  • Magnifying glass
  • Toothbrush
  • Essential oils

Practical Gifts for Senior Citizens

The elderly will often say that they just want something they can use. These are the easiest gifts to buy because you probably know what they need, or what you think would really help them.

The list below includes personal items, such as house shoes, (which should be replaced often and should always have non-skid soles) as well as stuff for the house. Always keep an eye on small appliances and make sure they are replaced if they show any signs of wear.

Your loved one might complain that they don't need a new coffee pot, but if they old one isn't working correctly then it could be a fire hazard.

I've also included assistive living and personal care devices. These may seem like odd gifts, but many elders need (and want) to feel safe and healthy, but may balk at buying tools and supplies that would help them with their daily tasks.

If you think your loved one would be embarrassed to receive these as gifts at a gathering, you can give them discreetly at any time.

Fun And Decorative Gifts for Seniors

If you know a senior well, then you probably have an idea of their personal tastes as far as home goods and decor. Even then, decorative decor that has to be permanently displayed should be kept relatively small (unless you are filling an obvious need, such as when decorating a bare nursing home room.)

Smaller items are less intrusive and don't require a person feeling obligated to move an older, beloved piece of decor to make room for your gift. Portable items are also nice, since they can be moved about until they find the perfect spot.

  • Framed art prints
  • Throw pillows
  • Silk flower arrangement
  • Table cloth
  • Decorative plate
  • Perpetual motion device
  • Desk accessories
  • Pretty serving trays
  • Unique cutting boards
  • Coin bank
  • House plant  (but please make sure it is non-toxic)
  • New kitchen towels and potholders
  • Candles 
  • Clock
  • Trinket boxes

Silly and Fun Gift Ideas for the Elderly

Sometimes a silly gift is the perfect gift!

Hobby Gifts

Hobby related gifts are almost always appreciated. They help pass time and help the elderly maintain a sense of self. Creative hobbies are also excellent exercise for the brain.

They can reduce stress, and are a great means for the elderly to stay involved with others who share their same interests.

  • Painting sets
  • Sketchbooks
  • Pens 
  • Pencil sets
  • Desk-top easel
  • Embroidery hoop with stand
  • Fly tying supplies
  • Quilting supplies
  • Sewing machine
  • Jigsaw puzzles (check out my puzzle designs here for family friendly fun)
  • Golf balls and tees
  • Flower seeds
  • Scrapbooking supplies
  • Self improvement classes (art, music, dance, aerobics, language etc.) 
  • Board Games (Monopoly, Life, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Jenga, Yahtzee, etc.)
  • Craft kits
  • Colored pencils
  • Adult coloring books
  • Quilting stencils
  • Craft stencils
  • Hot glue gun
  • Wood burning pen
  • Yoga mat
  • Tools (the standard: screwdrivers, wrenches, and other things a person always needs.)
  • Sewing tools (rotary cutter, cutting mat, threads, etc. 

Tech Gifts

More and more senior citizens are loving new technology. There are tons of benefits for getting your loved one tech gifts, too:

  1. They promote learning, which helps fight off dementia and Alzheimer's
  2. They can help make a home safer or more comfortable
  3. They can help increase communication
  4. They can help elders to feel less isolated
  5. They provide entertainment
  6. They can make hobbies easier
  7. They can promote independence

Things like a good wireless printer can allow a senior to print their own photos, instead of needing to take film to a drop-off, or wait for someone to give them photos. This is a way that a tech gift can help promote independence.

A digital camera and printer can encourage a senior to take hobby photos.

A smart thermostat can help keep their energy bills under control, which allows for less financial stress, and helps keep them safer and comfortable too.

  • Laptop
  • Tablet
  • Smartphone 
  • Custom phone case
  • Headphones
  • Wireless mouse
  • Mousepad
  • CD's
  • DVD's
  • Roomba
  • Digital camera
  • Digital photo frame
  • Laminating machine
  • Wireless printer
  • Fitbit
  • Smart thermostat
  • Digital scales

Keepsake Gifts

When many people give "keepsake" gifts to the elderly, they give them grandchildren photos or similar items. While these are special trinkets, they can build into an overwhelming amount of clutter if a person has numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.

Why not give a keepsake gift that personally reflects the recipient? Everyone has certain dates, events, memories, or loves in their life that mean something to themselves.

The number one most important thing any person has is their name. Close behind that is their birth date.

A keepsake gift can be as simple as a monogrammed ornament, or as elaborate as a shadowbox containing bits of history.

  • Dated Christmas ornament
  • Locket or other personalized jewelry
  • Photo collage
  • Anniversary or special dates on a sign, poster, ornament etc. 
  • Shadowbox of special mementos
  • Handmade gift (such as a quilt made of loved one's clothing)
  • Something specific to their Zodiac sign

For Seniors With Pets

When in doubt about what to get a senior citizen, you can almost always be sure that they would love a gift that is centered around their beloved pet.

  • Leash and collar set
  • New pet bed
  • Pet toys
  • Personalized pet food bowls
  • Trip to the groomers
  • Custom pet tags
  • Combs or brushes
  • Pet shampoo and grooming supplies (make a simple, nice gift basket!)
  • Pet odor neutralizer
  • Pet clothing
  • Art, signs or accessories about their pets
  • Custom portrait of their pet
  • New aquarium or accessories
  • Keychain, ornament, or other accessory with pet photo

Nursing Home and Dementia Gifts: 

With a few exceptions, most of the gifts listed here are also appropriate for nursing homes and for elders with dementia. Items that are most likely not appropriate for nursing homes include: 

  • Sharp items (knives, scissors, etc.) 
  • Appliances
  • Heated blankets or pads (without clearing this first with the staff)
  • Real candles

These items may not be safe for those with dementia who live at home or with a caregiver either. 

For those with dementia and Alzeheimer's, gifts that can be "fiddled with" (fidget gifts) are often enjoyed: 

  • Magnetic sculptures
  • Moldable sands and putties
  • Clicky items (pens, flashlights) 
  • Photo books
  • Puzzles
  • Things with lids, buckles, buttons, straps, etc. 
  • Fidget blankets or aprons
  • Fidget Spinner
  • Slider puzzles
Other recommendations include: 
  • Nightlights
  • Wallets, purses or other familiar items from life (with items inside to rearrange)
  • Sensory items (soft blankets, textured pillows, bright art prints) 
  • Soothing items (music, slow-fade lights, and hypnotic items such as slow moving screensavers, digital photo slides, rotating lights, etc. 
  • Essential Oil diffusers
  • Snuggly items such as soft dolls or plush animals.

Other holiday articles you might want to read:

* This post may contain affiliate links. When you buy or sign up through my affiliate links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps me keep this blog running.* 


  1. Don't forget books, especially audio books, or gift cards from their favorite store.

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