Festive gift ideas for seniors
It’s been another tumultuous year, and we’ve decided for this year’s edition of our popular list of Christmas present idea for senior family and friends to focus on gifts that cheer.
We’re delighted that we have been able to review many of these ideas, and we’ve clearly stated where we have been provided with a sample to try for ourselves. Other suggestions are just that and haven’t been tried and tested. And we’ve also added a few items that we’ve bought over the last year and think would make enjoyable gifts.
We hope you find some good ideas here. We’re aiming to add to it over the next few weeks, so do come back to see if there’s anything new. And if you scroll to the bottom of the article, you’ll see links to previous gift lists, many of which are still available.
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Sleep and more
Do you or a family member struggle to get a full night’s sleep? We certainly do here, and are always open to ideas that might help, especially if they are uplifting. We were given two products to test by Made By Coopers, an apothecary brand aimed at boosting and balancing mental and emotional wellbeing. The lavender and Frankinsense-based Bath Salt Blend (£22.50/£9) are crystals in a jar that you add to your bath water. A pleasant fragrance, but as we do like our bubbles we also added some unperfumed bath foam to the water, which worked well. We’d say the bath salts were a pleasure to use and probably did help relaxation. The only downside was that the real bits of lavender did have to be rinsed out of the bath afterwards. We also tried the Calm room spray £16.50), which had a very gentle aroma and was pleasant to use. Made By Coopers products are free from many additives, including parabens, using only natural, organic and plant-derived ingredients.
Quality in a washbag
We’ve enjoyed samples from Arran Sense of Scotland before, and this year we’ve tested the Lochranza Mens Wash Bag. This is an attractive wash bag containing a full-sized Bath & Shower Gel, After Shave Balm, Shave Gel and Soap in a pleasant and not overwhelming Lochranza fragrance. While personal taste and long experience mean that buying new brands of toiletries for the mature man can be a risky business, there was special praise from our tester for the quality of the bag itself. Well-made and with pockets and zips that will last through many years of holidays, whatever the contents. £45
A spot of good wine
We were initially a little anxious about trying the bottle of Barolo wine offered to us for review. At a smidgeon under £40, this was in a different league to our usual fare, and we weren’t sure we had the expertise to judge it properly. And then we realised that many people who might receive this as a gift would have just the same level of expertise, so we took courage and poured. I have to say it was lovely. A great rounded taste that was savoured by red and white wine drinkers here. Demarie Barolo DOCG 2016 is a classic old-vine Barolo from the La Morra region, and has won a number of awards. You can read more about its story, including tasting notes, on the website, where you can order gift-wrapped bottles of the Barolo and other wines.
A liquor for whiskey lovers
Every time I’ve mentioned Drambuie, people have furrowed their brows and said yes they’ve heard of it, or their parents used to have some, but they’re not sure what it is and they’ve never tried it. So I’m pleased that we have got the chance to find out when we were sent a bottle for review, and I’ll leave our thoughts here when we have. The producers describe it as something of a retro drink. It’s a Scottish honeyed whisky liqueur that’s made with a blend of Scotch whisky, soft spices, fragrant herbs and rich and smoky heather honey which is harvested from the moorlands of Dumfries & Galloway. Drambuie can be traced back to the 18th century to a secret recipe created for Bonnie Prince Charlie by his Royal apothecary. You can pair it with a whiskey decanter for an elegant look on your shelf, and it goes well with desserts, chocolate, coffee, and cocktails. The suggested recipes look absolutely lovely, and may well take precedent over the iced expresso experience. Priced at £18 for a 50cl bottle, Drambuie is available from major supermarkets including Waitrose and Morrisons.
And so to bed
I have a theory that as slippers go, snugly fitting slipper boots are a good choice for anyone who doesn’t have the sprightliness or balance of their youth. We took a look at the spotted and grey boots provided for review by Cotton Traders. The spots make them fun, and the Sherpa fleece inside ensures they’re very cosy. Sizing is right, and once on they are a good fit and feel very stable – helped by the rubber sole. Getting into them does initially require a little effort – think Uggs for bedtime – but very comfortable once they’re on. £23
We also reviewed Cotton Trader’s tie dressing gown in a blue floral soft fleece. It’s a nice weight, and the length is good – calf length on someone 5’2” the last time they checked. There are buttons from top to bottom as the front fastening, though I wouldn’t see me for one using more than 3 or 4 to do the job. There’s also a wide-ish white ribbon that ties around the middle of the dressing gown for extra security. Made with 100% polyester, the dressing gown is machine washable and dries fast. £36
Flavour to savour
I’m very impressed with the beautifully packaged Spice Tin we received from mother and son UK company The Spice Kitchen. It contains a tray of stainless steel dishes of nine fragrant spices: garam masala, chilli powder, cumin seeds, ground coriander, turmeric powder, mustard seeds, cassia, cardoman and cloves. Because these spices are more about taste than heat, I think they would work for anyone like me who can’t tolerate hot spicy food. They will also be enjoyed by my vegan family. The tin itself is attractively wrapped in sari silk, and comes complete with a recipe book to help anyone discover how to cook with spices. £35 wrapped to £30 for the unwrapped – but I think the wrapping is too lovely to go without. Available direct from the Spice Kitchen with 10% off your first order, and we’ve also seen it at the Ethical Superstore.
A simple fun brain workout on a board
A comment we often hear from our elders is that too many things are too complicated to warrant their attention. That goes for a great many board games. Some people do delight in complexity, but others just enjoy the social aspects of playing a game without trying to understand and obey complicated rules for a game that can last for hours. For all those reasons we were impressed with the thought behind Quoridor, a game based on a moving maze of wooden walls, provided to us for review. It’s described as suitable for the whole family, and can accommodate 2-4 players. Our reviewers say it’s a fun game, that’s quite fast to play, but requires some strategy and thinking a few moves ahead. Quoridor is available in various formats from Amazon and all good hobby stores.
Other people’s stories
If your parent enjoys reading about ‘other lives lived’, they may find one of these very different memoirs a good read. ‘On Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service’, is a memoir by Sir Michael Burton, telling the story of his long career in the diplomatic service that has taken him all over the world. ‘Rock and Roll Nanny’ relates the experiences of Sally Arnold, who started her working life as a Norland nanny, but took her skills into the world of tour management for rock groups such as Lynyrd Skynyrd (apparently a nightmare to manage), the Rolling Stones and the Who, as well as many political and other well-known figures. Both books are paperback. You can find ‘On her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service’ at Amazon, ‘Rock and Roll Nanny’ is available from the website for £13.99, where you can read excerpts from the book before you buy, or from Amazon. Both books were provided to us for review.
Space in the diary
We always include a diary in our Christmas gift list. Electronic calendars have their place, but a hardback book is always a pleasure, and of course something that can be easily carried around the home. This year we’ve received a sample of the Royal Horticultural Society A5 diary, featuring as you might expect some stunning photography of plants on every other page. There’s one page to a week, plus an extra blank page per month. Also included are planner sections for 2023 and 2024, and room for names and addresses. Sadly no gardening advice or inspiration, other than information about the RHS. Available for £11.00 from the RHS Shop and other retailers.
A little help to stay warm
We’ve been looking at jumpers for men for a while, and we were struck by the beautiful claret colour of Cotton Trader’s scarlet ‘supersoft crew jumper’,The scarlet is actually flecked with blue, making it a little unusual. The jumper, provided for review, is 100% acrylic, so not as soft as wool, but easy to wash and very quick to air dry in this winter of keeping electricity costs down. Also available in blue. £28
Keeping head, hands and feet warm is generally acknowledged to be helpful in coping with the cold, so your family member may appreciate this fairly easy-to-use electric Homedics Cozy Footwarmer. You put both feet into the one slipper and turn on the heat. There are 3 heat settings, although so far I’ve haven’t really noticed a difference between them, and they are all very gentle. The key seems to be to keep your feet flat and in the middle of the warmer, where there is most heat. From a safety point of view there’s an automatic cut-out after 3 hours, and users are warned not to put anything on top of it, such as blankets. The footwarmer has a cable knit and micro mink design, and you can take out the heating section of the warmer, allowing you to wash the outer part on a cold wash. Fits up to a 13 in UK footwear. Provided by the supplier for review. RRP £59.99
Christmas isn’t Christmas without chocolate
We actually bought a box of Pure Heavenly chocolate ourselves to give as a birthday present to a vegan family member. The promotion promised a great deal – it is backed in the Dragon’s Den, and tastes good despite being sugar-, gluten- and dairy-free. In the interests of our readers I tested one bar before wrapping up the others as gifts. Although the bar wasn’t huge at 30g, the experience was intense. You certainly wouldn’t need to eat mega amounts to feel satisfied. The chocolate is available in bundles or gift boxes in a wide variety of dark, milk and white chocolate. I ordered the ‘Mixed’ Assortment Pack of 16 x 30g bars at £22 (less a 10% new customer discount). There’s actually enough here to cover one birthday and two Christmas presents just as an added sweet treat.
A jolly cup of coffee
We seem to have gone a little cafetiere crazy in this household. Not content with the two unremarkable Bodums we already have, I picked up another in the middle of Lidl. It’s plastic rather than glass, but it does the trick. Then we received the LG Psia 8 cup copper cafetiere for review, and it’s a different class altogether. It looks special, and it’s got a good weight to it without being unwieldy. I’m never quite sure what these 8 cups refer to, but it’s the same size as our other cafetieres, which means we can get 3 mugs out if comfortably. For cleaning, the glass jug is easily removed and can be washed in the dishwasher – and you can get replacements if the jug gets broken. The rest needs to be hand washed, but that’s not too onerous a task. Available in a variety of colours and sizes, alongside a huge range of cookware, bakeware, home accessories and more. Definitely fits the brief of a cheering gift. £35.49
William Morris designs are hugely popular at the moment, and we were delighted to find these four Strawberry Thief mugs from Cotton Traders. Beautifully boxed, the fine china mugs are ideal for complementing the cafetiere we’ve reviewed above or a decent cup of tea. There are other William Morris designs available, and you can find plates, placemats, coasters, teapots and a jug in a matching Strawberry Thief design. Dishwasher and microwave safe, the mugs are priced at £25. Provided by the supplier for review.
With the price of many basic and luxury foods rising, a gift of high-quality food delivered to the door might be an interesting idea. Not necessarily ready-made meals, but good ingredients. As an example, we enjoy fish all the year round, but mostly buy from the supermarket. When we spent a week in Brixham in the UK, which is an active fishing port, we discovered that eating fresh fish from the sea is quite a different experience. Since we returned home we have ordered fish online from the Devon-based Rockfish, which arrived well-packaged and still very fresh. Rockfish do some interesting collections of tinned fish too. I also hear from Cornish company Fish for Thought, though I’ve yet to try them. And it’s worth looking out for coastal fish sellers who come inland at weekends to set up shop, again selling fresher fish than you’ll get from the supermarket. Might not seem an obvious choice as a gift, but the fish is either fresh and can be frozen, or arrives frozen.
Ideas we haven’t tested
Indoor garden in a jar
Ecospheres offer a self-sustaining garden in a jar for the home. The ecospheres are lidded jars containing humidity-loving plants that release moisture from their leaves which then condenses on the glass and drips back down to water the plants as rain. The plants are, say the suppliers, are guaranteed to thrive with no upkeep, even in the darker months. Baby Petite Ecosphere RRP £99.95 (plus optional £10 fairy lights).
Lights for the garden
UK company Flory’s Online designs and makes unique garden gifts. Its Solar Light Wall Plaques are laser cut from high-quality steel and are powder-coated to protect against the elements. There are over 60 designs in the collection including Mum’s Garden, Grandad’s Shed, Spitfire, Fisherman, Tree of Life, Westie and Golfer. Priced at under £30.
The National Museum of Computing in Bletchley is open to visitors and has a shop that may prompt memories of early computing, including a build your own calculator kit, retro computer manuals, stylish computer art, and a variety of computing literature. The Museum is running a Black Friday deal from 25 November to 27 November at 8pm (GMT). Using the code BF22 will get you 15% off selected products in the online store, which is redeemable for a wide selection of items, as well as experiences such as escape rooms, and virtual tours.
I’ve just made my annual visit to the Craft in Focus show held at the RHS Gardens at Wisley, Surrey. These are premium crafts, including woodwork, leather, glass, clothing and more, together with a wide variety of jewellery at an accompanying wide variety of prices. Everything we saw was of a really good quality. You can see for yourself online by downloading the show guide at www.craftinfocus.com. It’s very much personal taste, but a few we really liked for their joy included Chris Hawkins raku pots, Joanne Gowan fine art jeweller, heatproof stands, and Abigail Rayner needle felting.
Like more inspiration? Take a look at some of our other recent gift guides:
- Gift ideas for those living with dementia
- Father’s Day gift list 2022
- Mother’s Day gift ideas 2022
- Thoughtful gifts for your older family and friends
Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash