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This 93-Year-Old Woman Has the Best Advice About What To Give People for Christmas

Read this if you're stumped about what to give this season.


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Every Christmas, I’m stumped about what to get for some of my relatives. The wisdom, know-how, and secret family recipes they’ve passed down to me over the years are priceless. How can any gift I buy measure up? Besides, they already have everything they need! Turns out, sometimes the best Christmas gift ideas are the simplest.

Ohio native Mary Lou Wilson, 93, shared some priceless Christmas gift ideas on Next Avenue, writing, “Every holiday season I hear from loved ones that they have no idea what to get me. That happens once you have orbited the sun more than 90 times, like I have… I decided younger people — those under 80 — might need some ideas of useful and welcomed gifts for the older people in their lives.”

While Wilson’s ideas are specifically geared toward the over-80 set, we think many of them would be treasured by anyone. Keep reading for some unique and thoughtful Christmas gift ideas for the people on your list who’ve given you so much over the years.

3 Thoughtful Gifts for Elderly Relatives (Or Anyone Else!)

Socks, slippers, puzzles, and chocolate are lovely gifts. But Wilson jokes that she already has a small stash of these items, after being gifted them so many times. Instead, consider these:

Photos of their grandchildren. Wilson says the best thing to give grandparents is a recent, close-up photo of their grandchildren. While this is easy to send via text or email, she prefers a physical photo that she can frame herself. Once you send it their way, it becomes a timeless gift. “We like something that can be held in our hands and savored for a moment or two,” she adds.

Something based on their interests. As you’re shopping, Wilson notes that it’s important to keep your loved one’s hobbies and interests top of mind. Gift cards to their go-to restaurants or stores, a subscription to their favorite magazine, or a large print book of their preferred genre are all Christmas gift ideas they’re sure to love.

The vitamins or medicine they take. When someone has a chronic health condition, purchasing their medications for them if they’re running low can mean a lot. They’re often pricey, and might not always be covered by Medicare, so it will ease a financial burden for them. Just be sure to check with them first, so you know what will be the most helpful.

These are just some of the tangible ways to show your loved ones you care this holiday season — but there are also many gifts that can’t be wrapped up, and which don’t cost a thing.

Gifts That Money Can’t Buy

We probably all have someone on our list who has already has every gift imaginable, making it tricky to shop for them. In this case, Wilson says the best thing you can give is your time. Try one of these priceless Christmas gift ideas:

A driving tour of their favorite spots. Taking a few hours to drive a loved one to their favorite places — like a museum, church, or childhood home — can bring back sentimental memories. Wilson reflects on the last time her son visited her and drove her around the town she lived in for 50 years. “We were flooded with happy memories of family, childhood, and friends as we drove around the old neighborhoods,” she says.

Simple acts of service. Picking up groceries, medications, and other items can make older people’s everyday routines a little easier. And giving someone the night off from cooking by making them a batch of comforting soup or a hearty lasagna (put it in single-serve freezer containers if they live alone) is a wonderful way to share a home-cooked meal!

Ask them for help. It may seem counterintuitive — shouldn’t we be the ones doing something for them? — but asking older relatives for help can mean a lot. Wilson says she loves when she gets to virtually read stories to her great-grandchildren thousands of miles away. She’s also thrilled to lend her expertise to her loved ones by showing them how to knit, or to sew on a button.

No matter what you give someone for Christmas, Wilson reminds us what’s truly important: “Ultimately, the gift we want most is you: to hear your voice, to have a bit of your time, your love, and your companionship.”

That’s a gift we can give any time of year!

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