9 Christmas gift ideas for the over 70s

Several years ago, a friend’s elderly mother told me, “Please don’t bring me a gift unless it’s something I can eat or drink.”

At age 75, she was at that stage in life where you are more concerned with de-cluttering, rather than gathering additional material possessions. With this in mind, our checklist of Christmas gift ideas for the over 70s comprises consumables and useful items, rather than gadgets and trinkets:

1. Gifts of food and drink

Like the lady said, you really can’t go wrong with gifts of chocolates, cakes, cookies (especially if they’re home-baked), luxury snacks and fruit. Or a bottle of wine, herbal tea or Hug-in-a-Mug drinking chocolate. Apart from being special treats for many elders, extra food and drink is useful for offering to friends and neighbours who pop in over the holidays.

2. Personal treats

Many elders, especially if they’re on a tight budget, appreciate spoils like handcream, body lotion, scented soap or shaving cream. Vouchers for manicures and pedicures are a thoughtful gift for the ladies, who may not be able to reach their toes, or apply polish with a steady hand.

3. Think comfort

If you’re looking for a more substantial gift, items that offer comfort are a big hit with elders, especially those who are a little frail. Think soft, fleecy rugs or shawls, slippers or fluffy socks with non-slip soles … all perfect for snuggling into when the weather turns chilly. A scented microwave heat pad is great for relieving aches and pains, or just providing extra warmth.

4. Boredom relieving gifts

Since time often hangs heavy for those who are retired, gifts that help while away time pleasantly are sure to be appreciated. Magazines, novels and puzzle books offer hours of pleasure. Some elders may enjoy an adult colouring book, while an electronic chess set is ideal for someone who loves the game but struggles to find skilled opponents to play against.

5. Gifts to brighten the surroundings

Who doesn’t love flowers, or a pretty pot plant? At this time of the year, you’ll find festive poinsettias in all the shops, as well as gorgeous orchids, rose bushes and evergreen shrubs. Or choose from a wide selection of potted herbs, if you’re buying for someone who enjoys cooking.

6. Useful gifts

We love those nifty fabric organisers that fit over the arm of a chair or couch. They have a number of compartments for storing items like spectacles, phone, magazine or book, pen, etc. so they are always at hand for an elderly relative who spends most of the day sitting in their favourite armchair. Some also include a built-in cupholder. Available online at Takealot.

7. Container gardening

Many elders living in old age homes or small flats really miss their gardens. Gift them with a mini container garden – an arrangement of pots or troughs on a frame which can be placed on a small balcony or even inside next to a window. Ideal for planting anything from pretty annuals and succulents to spinach, tomato plants or lettuce to add variety to an older person’s diet. Plus, there’s the added bonus of not needing to bend down to plant or tend to seedlings! Find them at your local garden store and markets.

8. Help them stay in touch

Consider giving a data bundle to a tech savvy elder. Staying in touch with children and grandchildren is so much easier nowadays, thanks to WhatsApp and other messenger services. With WhatsApp calls and video calls, elders can connect to friends and family near and far, and feel as if they are right there amid the celebrations.

9. ‘Experience’ gifts

Elders who are active may prefer an ‘experience’ gift – especially if the experience is shared with beloved family members. For example, an outing to the theatre, cinema or music in the park. Or a day trip to a nearby game reserve. Even just a dinner or picnic out offers the gift of a meal in pleasant company. We know how popular and appreciated our annual Tafta festive lunches are! Remember, your time is also a gift … perhaps the most precious gift of all.

If you would like to gift an elder at Tafta, contact Tafta’s Donations Controller Neliswa Makhaza on 031 332 3721 or email pr@tafta.org.za