Holiday Gift Guide: A Gift of Time

Gifts for Seniors: Designate Your Gift of Time

senior care, Raleigh-Durham, N.C.Holiday gift-giving for senior friends and relatives can be challenging. There may be special considerations due to a health issue or living environment, or distance may prevent us from knowing what would be truly needed. We thought it might be helpful to provide a collection of ideas to jumpstart your holiday gift giving.

Our Holiday Gift Guide series on gifts for seniors is divided into three segments: Gifts of Time, Purpose, and Service (aka Design-ate, Consumm-ate and Appropri-ate. As you know by now, our blogs use verbs because we are in Action).

Design-ate: Your Gift of TIME             

One of the best gifts for the elderly is the gift of your Time. Stopping in for a chat, maybe bringing a goodie can be more valuable than an expensive or hard-to-find gift.

  • Going out: Many elderly people are somewhat isolated because of their inability to drive or because of limited physical mobility. Taking an elderly relative or friend out for a simple lunch or bringing in a favorite ethnic meal to share may help vary the daily routine. Shake it up a little!
  • Visit…just visit. This is a great gift idea for mom or dad.
  • A “Little Something:” Bring a small gift such as a favorite magazine, a puzzle book, a few candies, some homemade cookies, a pint of ice cream to share, or a milk shake.
  • Seasonal “divvies:” Does your local high school band sell fruit before the holidays? Order a box, then divide and share with your senior. (In the summertime you might offer to split a watermelon, bringing containers or bags and to prep for easy access later. See how this works?)
  • Audio books: Multiple avenues here. Give a subscription to an audio book rental service like This is especially welcome for someone with vision issues*. A monthly subscription can be accompanied by an inexpensive CD player. Audio books can also be purchased at most book stores, or obtained for free at the library. Include pickup and delivery in your “gift”, and peruse the online catalog together. (Then a trip to the library to obtain and return books becomes an outing!). In our state seniors with vision issues are allowed to check out talking books for free from the Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired. A player is provided and the delivery/return of the books takes place via prepaid post.
  • Reading: A favorite book or a new book read aloud is a delight to someone who may have difficulties doing so.
  • Elf-ing: Help to plan and procure gifts for the others on the senior’s list. Spend Time together to ready and address holiday cards.
  • The Gift of Care: Prepay for caregiving Time in the form of services. Just as gift certificates are available for restaurants, manicures and mall stores, so are they for care. Offset costs or enable services to begin. Select from one of NAVIGATE NC’s signature services or add hours to a plan that’s underway. This one of the most thoughtful gift ideas for seniors.
  • Transport: Provide transportation to a social event, an appointment, or an entertainment venue. Offer to go with. Choose something free or attend an event regularly. If your senior was in the military or a military spouse, check out Veterans’ events and go. It’s your Time that is appreciated.
  • Tag along: If there is an event scheduled at your senior’s facility, ask to attend. (We listened with our dad to a teenaged volunteer play the piano on Sunday afternoons. From classical to ragtime, we all enjoyed the tunes watched Max mature and graduate from high school! Thank you for your service, Max).
  • Standing “dates:” A friend of mine instituted and kept a “Thursday Morning Coffee” tradition with her father, no matter where it took place and over time.
  • Cultural arts: Does your loved one enjoy plays or museums? Make the arrangements and reconnect them with a favorite pastime.
  • Mix in the young ones: Consider a special visit or outing, especially with the grandchildren or children of your place of worship (i.e. is it time for the children’s holiday show at school or church?) We had to include this one in our Holiday Gift Guide.
  • Day Tripping: What would your senior “reeeally” like to do? My sister and bro-in-law arranged for day trips to nearby Duke Gardens and even to the NC coast. (With a little ingenuity and communication the Fire Department at Emerald Isle, N.C., loaned Dad a special wheelchair that could access and traverse the beach).
  • Chow Time: Bring in a nice meal or favorite family treat. Or, plan a time to get together to prepare an old family recipe together so your loved one can share their memories. Take the dish or party fixin’s into the facility. Happy Holidays, Happy Birthday, National “whatever” Week, you get it!
  • Cooking: You cook and ask Mom to provide the helpful hints she used to employ. Many a memory is cued (and made) with siblings in the kitchen and Mom at the helm. Quality time makes a great gift idea for Mom.
  • Surprise: Show up at the nursing facility with ice cream for your elder. (If possible, put the word out to staff that you are stowing some extra in their break facilities for them to enjoy!).
  • Food Delivery: Dad was always glad to see a meatball sandwich show up from any source! Fashion a “Sub of the Month” certificate especially for your senior. Deliver, and share. Find a “Something”-of-the-Month service online, but YOU take the time to deliver it each month.
  • Photo Books, Scrapbooks: Compile photos to make memory books or scrapbooks. By gathering cherished photos, newspaper clippings, travel souvenirs and other mementos your senior will have a tangible piece of his or her own heritage to hold onto. Plus…braggin’ rights!
  • Videos: If you have technical skills, or know someone who does, then a simple video or slideshow can be made adding your senior’s favorite music. Have old home movies transferred to updated technology (perhaps a benefit to the extended family?) and make time to watch them together.

It is likely that these suggestions will overlap however the idea is to get you thinking from multiple perspectives. Keep or share the ideas and use them for many occasions. Any of these make great gift ideas for parents.

Our next segment of the Holiday Gift Guide is about gifts of PURPOSE. But first, a word… A seemingly logical and heartfelt gift idea could be interpreted as a signal or reminder of what someone is unable to do at present, doing more harm than good. Some folks will give a gift or service thinking it may go over better as a gift than trying to convince the recipient of its usefulness. Your senior may take offense. Think carefully about the item or service, its message, and the receiver.

We hope ideas like this provide food for thought and action for this or any special occasion. If you notice doubt or absolute rejection on your part it may be a tug signaling a conversation to have or a plan to ready. NAVIGATE NC can help with that. Be mindful of the tug, call us at 919-628-4428 or CONNECT WITH US and we will talk about it.

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