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Christmas gift ideas for seniors 2023

Here we are with our festive gift list for parents, grandparents and senior friends in 2023. Where did that year go?

This year we’re sharing our focus between helping out in a cost of living crisis and still choosing presents for Christmas and other occasions to make life happier.

Whether you’re buying for parents, grandparents or friends of retirement age, we hope you find something inspiring here.

Just so you know – if we’ve received a free review sample of anything on the list, we will make it clear. Otherwise it’s just an interesting idea that has passed our way. Also, by purchasing through some of the links, you will enable us to receive a small associates fee, although this has not influenced our suggestions.

Pencil it in

Diaries can become very important in later life – all those lunches and medical appointments to record! There’s a pleasure in writing in a paper diary that just doesn’t replicate in an online calendar. Apart from anything else, you can enjoy some excellent artwork along the way.

How about a fun theme for a diary? It’s the 60th anniversary year of Dr Who (and I remember the first episode myself) so this could be good. Thanks to ar review copy we can report that the slimline Dr Who diary fits in a breast pocket and includes illustrations of threats such as cybermen and Davros. There’s enough room for a couple of entries per day, and the whole hardback diary is designed to look like the police box – so no mistaking who the fan is! RRP: £5.99 Available from retailers including WHSmith, Calendar Club, Waterstones, Card Factory, Clintons, Amazon and Danilo.com. Dr Who diary

Another diary and calendar suggestion is from the Mouth and Foot Paining Artists, an international association of disabled artists who paint without the use of their hands. My dad was a keen supporter of the group, which makes it particularly special to me. MFPA provided a review copy of its year diary, which is a handbag-sized, spiral bound production full of lovely illustrations, and room for a couple of appointments a day. £9 from the website.

Real books for good reads

We received a copy of ‘Artificial Wisdom’ by Thomas R Weaver for review. It’s a hardback with larger than usual print and runs to 400 pages. This is a murder mystery set in 2050 that takes a nervous look at the role of technology in the future of humanity. Plenty of twists and turns are promised, so one to read with concentration. RRP 14.99 hardback £12.79 at Amazon Artificial Wisdom book.

Dippable books

Focusing on a book with a plot can be difficult for some, so something of beauty that they can dip in and out of could be a solution for the dark days of winter.

We’ve taken a look at a somewhat eclectic selection of books sent to us for review that might appeal.

First up is ‘Weird Walk’, subtitled as ‘Wanderings and Wonderings through the British Ritual Year’. This 286-page book follows a group of friends as they meander through the folklore hidden in the nooks and crannies around Britain. Each entry offers a description and photographs of the site, together with its story, and is accompanied by a map reference and walking notes for those who would like to see for themselves. There are plenty of references for further investigation too. I was delighted to find the history of Silbury Hill in my review copy. As a child I climbed this hill many times on our family journey down the A4 to Bristol to visit grandparents pre-motorway, but I never knew anything about its history. Available from Waterstones and all good bookstores. Also available at Amazon Weird Walk book

‘Move Yourself Happy’ is about putting the joy back into movement, rather than thinking of it as something that has to be done for the sake of fitness, weight or looks. The book is in two parts. The first considers four pillars of well-being with self-care at the heart: movement, nutrition, rest and positivity. In the second part these pillars are applied to a 21-day plan to put theory into practice. It’s not strict rules – more guidance about how to reconnect. In our review copy we found examples of exercises to try, building on approaches such as yoga and pilates, and some suggested recipes. An easy-to-access book that wants you to be happy. Available from Waterstones and all good bookshops. Move Yourself Happy

‘Self care’ is definitely a topic of the moment, and as an eternal sceptic I wonder about some of the advice on offer. I do like this book though, for its beauty, simplicity and thoughtful choices. ‘The Apothecary of Art to Sooth Your Soul’ combines paintings with quotes to suit every mood. In an original approach, you choose the emotion that you’d like to pursue and are guided to a relevant page. ‘Self love’ for example leads to a quote from Virginia Woolf: ‘No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself’, which resonates with me. You may have heard of the author Lisa Azarmi, who has been publishing on social media under the name of Ravenous Butterflies in support of her own mental health. We received a copy from the publishers for review. For stockists visit batsfordbooks.com  Available at Amazon  Apothecary of Art

Ever heard of Eltham Lodge? I hadn’t, but it turns out it’s the clubhouse of the Royal Blackheath Golf Club near London, with a rich restoration history. We found ‘Eltham Lodge: Where Perfection meets Convenience’ to be a glossy, fully-illustrated hardback that charts the story of this stately building and its occupiers over the past 350 years. For anyone connected to the area of Blackheath and Greenwich, this will be a fascinating read.  RRP £40. £20.29 at Amazon. Eltham Lodge book


Now, how to describe this one? ‘Van Gogh, the Essential Paintings’ is a concertina-style book, slightly smaller than A4, that offers reproductions of 54 of the artist’s best-known paintings, in chronological order. Many of the paintings spread across a double page, so you will see a crease in the middle, but that doesn’t really detract from a beautifully high quality production. There’s a useful accompanying booklet that offers short, intelligible notes on each painting.  Both books slide into a hard back slip cover. It’s not a design approach we’ve seen before, but we immediately knew who would enjoy receiving our review copy. RRP £29.99. For stockists visit prestel.com.  Also available at Amazon Van Gogh Essential Works book


I don’t suppose we’re the only people to have a pile of outdated OS maps gathering dust on our shelves? And with parents who own even more? So a potentially meaningful gift linked to great memories might be a Custom Made OS Map. These are OS maps you can personalise with a front cover image you choose yourself. Enter the postcode for a home address, or name of a village or town, and this becomes the centre point of a unique foldable OS map. The maps are also available in canvas and framed versions. We haven’t tried this ourselves but we like the idea. Small custom made maps are £7.99 from the OS shop, while large ones are £19.99.

Joining for outings

Memberships of societies and charities can open doors to enjoyable days out and even holidays. We’ve featured many before, but one lesson we’ve learned this year is to check whether there are venues near to where the recipient lives. We, for example, are within a few miles of a dozen National Trust properties, and the main Royal Horticultural Society gardens are just 15 minutes away. On the other hand, we’ve joined English Heritage and are struggling to find a property to visit near at hand. There are plenty of individual properties, events and other venues that bear re-visiting through the year, so they too are worth bearing in mind for gifts of membership. The National Trust is currently making the offer that for every membership you give online before 11 December, you can enter the members-only code GIFTMEM23 at checkout to win one of five £100 National Trust gift cards.

Playing at home

Every senior home should have a pack of playing cards that’s easy to find, complete and good quality, in my opinion. Bring them out on a dismal day or when family and friends visit, or pack them to take on holiday. The Mouth and Foot Painters offer an attractive double card pack in a tin for £13 from their website, and kindly sent us a sample for review.

Timely reminders

Perhaps not a personal gift in the strictest sense, but the latest digital clock and task reminder technology from Relish, who focus on supporting those with memory problems to live independently for longer, could be worth a look. Special limited time offer: with every radio and clock purchase made from 30th November 2023 until the 19th December 2023, a free 63-piece puzzle will be automatically added to cart.

And so to bed

When Cotton Traders offered us the opportunity to try out a few of their products, we chose the theme of sleep. While many think of the company as being a t-shirt retailer, today it has expanded to be a virtual department store.

First we thought about the men. This is a practical gift, but we know older men can be tricky to buy for, and some smart bedwear can be useful for overnights elsewhere. We looked at the checked loungewear trousers, available in 3 colours, 3 lengths and 6 sizes. We ordered larger than usual for our guinea pig just in case, but actually standard sizing would have worked. Pure brushed cotton – and pockets! Men’s loungewear trousers. £29

A reasonable night’s sleep for me is dependent on a growing number of factors – and cool pillows are important. So for me – and many others I suspect – bed sets in 100% cotton are the best. We asked to look at one of Cotton Traders’ selection, and were happy with the quality. Cotton does have the downside of needing a bit of an iron, but probably less so if you use a tumble dryer, which we don’t for the sake of economy. This Reversible duvet set in spring bouquet design with popper fastenings is attractive and costs £42 for the king size version.

Finally, let’s get to breakfast. Porridge is a firm favourite in the winter (and quite often in the summer actually). We liked the look of this porridge bowl with lid and a spoon, which we are pleased to say is dishwasher safe. While this is clearly for porridge, the same style can be ordered as soup bowls – something we have struggled to find to suit us over the years. All set for lunch too then. Any colour £12

Giving to others

If you’re struggling for a gift idea, then perhaps purchasing from a charity is the perfect way to go. You’ll both know your purchase has benefited someone or something in need. There are so many to choose from, but this year our family have been focusing particularly on the Air Ambulance service and the RNLI, both of which do amazing life-saving and life-risking work – and all by volunteers.

You may also be interested to know about UK Money Bloggers (a network of over 400 personal finance influencers and part of the Smart Money People Group), who are working with children’s charity KidsOut, in encouraging friends, family and colleagues to ‘give’ instead of ‘gift’ this Christmas, as the more socially conscious and environmentally friendly option. KidsOut provides Christmas presents for disadvantaged children in women’s refuges, who otherwise would not receive any gifts for Christmas.

And for something completely different

I’ve been chewing over whether this suggestion would make a good Christmas gift. Friends and family are divided – so you get to decide! It’s a personal, portable defibrillator that can be taken out and about, and could potentially save a life. Prices range widely, and as they are fairly new to the market, there aren’t that many reviews. One example is the CellAid, which claims to be a world first, and has a mid-price of £330.



Yet more ideas

If you would like more inspiration, take a look at our other recent gift guides, including many product and service reviews:

RNLI image by Ray Harrington on Unsplash

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