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Stop the Knick Knack Madness |Gift Ideas for Seniors

When I think of gift giving for my Mom, who is 81, I start to become stressed. It is a challenge to come up with holiday gift ideas that she will like and use. She has everything she needs, including a house full of knick knacks. So, I have done things a little differently in the last few years.

For Mom’s birthday, I bought her a new broom. Hers was a nub and she couldn’t bring herself to part with it. So, I bought her a new one and took the old one home with me (and tossed it away). She really seems to enjoy her new broom. But I have siblings who love to buy her knick knacks and plants every year. Knick knacks are everywhere in my Mom’s house. She has to display them all, you know? She has so many plants. It takes her a week in the spring to put them outside and a week in the fall to bring them back in. Whenever she goes away for a night or two it takes us over an hour to water all the plants. She must have a dozen geraniums.

Help stop the knick knack madness in your own family with these holiday gift ideas:

Clothes or Boots

  • Buy clothes or boots only if they really need them. And, if you do plan to give them these things don’t give a gift card. Take them with you so they don’t have to drive, let them pick out what they want and let them try it on. Then, buy them lunch.

Pay Ahead

  • If they drive, pay ahead on tire rotation or oil change.
  • Extend their subscription to the local newspaper or their favorite magazine.
  • Pay ahead on their fuel bill, their electric bill, phone, cable or monthly satellite TV.

Gift Cards

  • Purchase a gift card to their favorite grocery store. They can use this all year long.
  • Purchase a gift card to their local pharmacy. We all know how expensive medications are. They can use it for their prescriptions, toiletries or anything in the store.
  • Get a gift card for a haircut and style, massage, pedicure or manicure.

Useful Gifts

  • Every week when you do your grocery shopping, buy one or two more nonperishable items for them. You will be surprised how big your gift is at the end of the year. Include cleaning products, pet supplies, and paper towels. Also include stamps and envelopes to help when they pay their bills.
  • If they bake, include salt, oils, chocolate chips, graham crackers, nuts, dried fruit, pie filling, baking soda, candy, flour and sugar. Put it all in a container you know they will use again, such as a plastic tote.


  • Have a couple of different work days a year to help out with house or yard work.
  • Seniors shouldn’t be on step stools, so help wash windows and walls. Take down and wash curtains and ceiling light fixtures.
  • Weed or fix a garden with them, help plant vegetables, trim trees, cut the grass or rake leaves.
  • Pick them up and take them to lunch. Attend local dinners or go to a restaurant for a special meal. Go on a picnic. Just spend time with them.
  • I know this is a strange one, but my Mom appreciates it when we go to the cemetery with her. We help spruce up the site, plant flowers and just be there so she has someone to talk to.

Baked Goods & Homemade Treats

  • Make them a little holiday gift goodie box. Include donuts, squares, cookies, brownies, fudge, a small pie, pudding, homemade relish, pickles and spaghetti sauce and include your recipes.
  • If they bake, they may also like to get baked goods from others and to try new recipes.

No Fancy Electronics

  • Many seniors don’t want them and don’t use them because they are too challenging and they feel threatened. Many of them already have a hard time with their TV remote. Don’t add to their confusion.

I hope some of these ideas will help you in a small way the next time you need to give a gift for an elderly person. If you have any additional ideas in the gift giving field, I would love to see them. Just share them here.