It’s pretty easy to go to Macy’s or Costco or Target to purchase special gifts for friends and loved ones during the holiday season. We do it all the time; and that’s the point – we do it all the time.
There’s a problem with this pattern for gifts for seniors, however. First of all, lots of us don’t really need anything from those stores. Secondly, I’m pretty darned picky, and, if I do need something, I want to pick it out myself. Finally, there are probably other things I want from you more than stuff — namely I’d love to spend more time with you. Experiential gifts are all the rage for us elders, especially because they’re often more meaningful and — bonus! — less expensive.
How about thinking outside the box this year and consider giving something that might not fit perfectly under the tree? Here are some suggestions:
- Paying bills: Here’s the stack; write all the checks, record them in the checkbook, and get them in the mail with return address and stamps. Phew! What a lot of work you can save someone.
- Make or have food delivered: Who wouldn’t appreciate a delicious meal cooked by you or purchased from one of our local restaurants and delivered either by you or one of the burgeoning food delivery services? Love, love, love this idea.
- Helping clean out closets: I have someone over at least once a year to help me with this. I sit, and they bring the items out of the closets or drawers for me to decide what I want to keep, donate, or toss. Then they neatly repack all the stuff I’m keeping as well as the stuff to be donated and then get the donated items to the proper organization.
- Chauffeur: I don’t enjoy driving anymore, and it’s really nice for one of my friends to offer their driving services. Even if you can’t see as well at night, there’s always running daytime errands that you could offer a friend.
- Gardening: Put together a nature gift basket accompanied by your offer to assist with clearing space and/or planting of the included flowers/plants. This works well for your friends who love to garden but who experience painful flare-ups with arthritis or other muscular problems.
- Dinner and a movie: I always appreciate lunch and a matinee (see #4 above).
- Game day/night at their place: Offer to bring board games or cards over for a couple of hours of Maj Jong, canasta, bridge, or Monopoly. Get a couple more friends involved.
- Do some of their Christmas shopping: Perhaps they need some help with picking out a certain gift or wrapping it or arranging for its delivery if it’s big. Gift cards look especially appealing when we think of the hassle of larger or more complicated gifts. Offer to help!
- Be an author: Help them write a memoir that will exist for their family long after they’re gone.
- Relaxation: Take your friend for a clothed massage, an inexpensive yet delightfully relaxing massage that requires nothing more than plopping down in a comfy recliner chair and letting stress and concerns melt away. (Check out your malls for these wonderful salons that give clothed massages.)
- Read aloud: There is nothing more giving than reading a story to someone who is able to thoroughly relax and take it in. Remember your childhood when your parents read to you before bedtime? Well, magnify that by 100 when you do it for someone who hasn’t received such a treat in years and years.
These are just a few ideas for gifts that might be easier, less expensive, and more fun for both you and the recipient. What other ideas do you have to share?