It’s the holiday season and we’re in shopping mode. Kids and significant others may be relatively easy to navigate, but what about our parents? What haven’t they already received throughout the years? What would they truly appreciate? Is it right to be giving more “stuff” to someone who is planning to or has already downsized?

After careful consideration I’ve come up with some categories and ideas to help you find the perfect gift:


  • If cooking isn’t their forte, make freezer batches of their favorite meals in containers that can easily be thawed for single servings
  • Do they love your young kids? Help them out by bringing over activity packs so they can easily be creative with your children.
  • Gifts cards to their favorite place is a great way to ensure the gift can be used and also shows you’re paying attention! If it’s to a salon or restaurant, the extra money may make them feel comfortable to splurge a bit more than usual.
  • Materials for their favorite hobbies: knitting, sewing, decoupage, puzzles, books, subscription to newspaper or magazine, stationery with stamps, etc.


  • Make memories by gifting an experience to the theatre, concert, park, pop-up, etc. In my area there are plenty of opportunities to see a show or be apart of a holiday activity. This year we are going to see the Christmas Carol in theatre and Festival of Trees. Not only are you minimizing stuff and creating memories, but you’re also supporting local business and performers. 
  • If possible, include parents in on a family vacation. Don’t count them out just because they haven’t chosen to take adventures solo, they might surprise you. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to foot the bill. The effort of the coordination and consideration for what they can enjoy during the trip would likely be plenty in their eyes. It also goes a long way in terms of building our relationships which are a direct impact on our ultimate happiness (read more on that here)
  • If your parent is having aches and pains, consider booking them a service. Whether it’s massage, Reiki, yoga, or Zumba… it’s worth a try. The healing affect of touch and movement are well documented, and maybe they’d love trying something new regardless.

Professional Services

  • A professional organizer to help de-clutter and allow seniors to enjoy what they already have in possession.
  • Home maintenance services, including cleaning, landscaping, shoveling, etc.
  • A creative writer to document their life story and create a legacy. Never heard of this? Check out Sunday Dinner Stories with Michelle Beckman.
  • Digital service to scan and organize old photo albums and videos in order to preserve its quality and convey it more easily to the next generation. This can also be turned into a virtual memory lane to help seniors with dementia. 
  • Tech service to get their house operating at a single command. Would they have fun with Alexa? Feel more secure with home monitoring? Have they ever tried playing backgammon on a tablet? What’s their television situation, is it time for a smart tv?
  • Financial planner, estate attorney, CPA to address any of their financial tasks or concerns. I am often hired by adult children to run an elder care analysis to clearly address concerns related to affording care and mounting homeownership expenses.
  • Set them up with Uber if driving has become a problem. Make it simple for them to use or explain that a call to you can easily result in a car at their door. Finding ways for aging parents to remain independent is the name of the game!

Financial Relief

  • Utilities. With inflation skyrocketing seniors are finding their income isn’t quite keeping up. Potentially the best gift could be to assume one of their bills, such as adding them to your family cell phone plan. Or simply review their expenses to see what can be adjusted, such as the cable/internet bill to lighten their expenses. 

Your time

  • Quality time when you actually engage and connect. Seek out some words of wisdom. Ask them to untangle a problem in your life. Try to solve one of theirs.
  • Teach them how to use new technology or expose them to something you’re involved with.
  • Help with tasks that overwhelm them. Maybe it’s something as simple as negotiating the cable bill or gathering tax documents for the accountant.

Ok fine… a few “stuff” ideas