Ideas for Mother’s Day gifts for the older generation
Welcome to our Mother’s Day gift list for 2019.
What do you give the mother that’s enjoyed a fair few days in her honour already, and probably has all the collectables that she will ever need to dust?
Experiences are the gift of choice for many a millennial, and we’ve taken a leaf out of their book by suggesting a few that might suit a mum. We also have some ideas about gifts that come with meaning and can be treasured in times to come.
This article is a mix of hands-on reviews and other ideas that have come our way. We make it clear where we have been given a complimentary gift to try out for ourselves.
Afternoon tea with a voucher
You can’t move for offers of afternoon, cream and champagne teas. But they are a great idea, both for spending time with a mum, or for giving as a gift that she can share with someone else if you can’t be there.
Red Letter Days provided us with a voucher for tea and a choice of venues nearby to try it out. Experience has taught me that turning vouchers into the real deal can be hard work, but we almost got there without grief this time. The only hiccough was that the phone number provided by Red Letter Days for the hotel I’d chosen wasn’t quite right. I was redirected from the central reservations number to call the hotel directly. Why not ask Red Letter Days to change the phone number, I asked. No can do, said central reservations. I would have to take it up with the firm myself. Which of course, I won’t. Pleased to say that once I was through to the right number at the Talbot Inn in Ripley in Surrey service was great. Tea was fine. Not one of the greatest, but served with a smile – and in the garden on one of our hottest February days ever. Shame about the sound of a possible generator rumbling nearby, but otherwise very pleasant.
Another hotel we could have used the voucher for was the rather lovely Barnett Hill Hotel in Wonersh, also in Surrey. I had actually already been there a few weeks before under my own steam (though with a voucher again). It was chilly the day we visited so we sat in the oak-panelled tea room with lovely views over the grounds. The tea was a cut above many and the room wasn’t too busy which was good for conversation. Beware the table where you sit right next to the heater though.
(Sorry these tea visits are rather South of England-focused options. If anyone would like to sponsor me to set up a website tasting 101 afternoon teas around the UK, I’d be happy to hear from them!)
There are plenty of sites and publications out there offering discounts for vouchers such as those offered by Red Letter Days. Try Groupon and vouchercodes for example. And there are also plenty of voucher sites available for every kind of experience.
Direct booking for tea
Of course you don’t have to go through one of these major websites to find a cream tea. Many venues are riding the wave of tea popularity and offering a selection of sandwiches and cakes. Leeds Castle in Kent is just one example.
Steam train outings
Days out are great if they’re suitable for your mum’s ability to get around. We’ve been talking to the family of the people running the Audley End steam railway near Saffron Walden in Essex. They tell us trains are wheelchair accessible, though there is some bending for the mobile to get on board. Plenty of paths, nearby parking, a tea room – and mums go free on Mother’s Day!
We tried out the Bluebell Line last year, using another voucher that combined the outing with a visit to Wakehurst Place, a garden and seed bank owned by Kew Gardens. The stations on the Bluebell Line and the outside of the trains have been beautifully restored, though we were a little disappointed with the seating inside. That’s perhaps because it looked like the best seats had been booked in advance. The car park here is very close to the trains, so not bad for the less mobile.
A word about Wakehurst Place. Entrance is free to members of Kew Gardens and the National Trust, but National Trust members have to pay the parking charge of £10 for the day. It’s a good place for a walk, but might not be the spot for those with limited mobility.
Wherever you’re thinking of going, it’s always worth checking these on Trip Advisor or searching for accessible days out before making a decision.
Eating is an experience, right? Good chocolate certainly is. We were offered the opportunity to try out some vegan chocolates from Yumbles, a site that offers a selection of goodies for the vegetarian, vegan, allergic and intolerant. I chose the bars of vegan chocolate in the Organic Raw Chocolate Selection Box, which were delicious. The bars ranged from dark to extremely dark, so were a beautifully rich experience. Some flavours were very subtle, like the raspberry and orange, but the mint was clearly mint, and the whole package would make a good gift. Plenty of other tasty-looking options on the website too.
Dressing to enjoy
Has your mum ever been colour analysed and enjoyed it? According to House of Colour, as skin tones change over time, it’s worth revisiting the colour advice. Or if they’ve never had the experience of a colour analysis class, it might be a fun and useful thing. I’ve not tried it myself, but have a friend who has delighted in wearing brown, yellow and orange ever since her analysis. Prices start at £150. House of Colour sent us some interesting tips on colour to brighten up our looks and those of our mothers, which we’re passing on to you.
Living in delicate skins
Skins thin as people age and can be more sensitive. Most people know about Johnsons baby products, but Aveeno comes from the same stable. We were given samples from the baby range to try out: hair and body wash, body lotion, and wipes. The range is packaged in cream and baby blue, so they look less clinical than the standard range, and have a non-medical scent. I liked them, but our guinea pig living with psoriasis found the wash product wasn’t right for their skin. Available in many outlets.
Posterhaste offers unusual personalised prints that you can design yourself. Create stick person pictures of your family, by choosing genders, ages, hairstyles and more, all with captions. Or make a star chart of an important date or dates. We were given a voucher to create a double star chart of the sky on important days. I chose the date and place of my birth and the date and place of my marriage. Design is quite flexible, allowing you to choose colours, size and whether to buy framed or unframed. It was very easy to build and check the print and take it through to order. With the courier option, the print turned up the next day and looks really good. This is a site worth a browse.
Kintsugi Clothing is a fledgling company aiming to offer stylish clothing for all, based on suggestions from across the disabled community to make sure its clothing is accessible and inclusive. The company says it’s their belief that conditions like limited mobility, arthritis and bladder issues should not prevent people from dressing in a way that expresses their personality. Currently there is a ten-item collection of women’s clothing in sizes 8-20, with designers working on another five items. When They Get Older borrowed a cape to take a closer look. It’s a heavyweight, well-made garment in blue and grey fleece with a colourful lining that mostly avoids scratchiness on the skin. Sizing is generous, and Kintsugi say it’s been designed specifically to be long enough to tuck in at the back if you are in a wheelchair or sitting elsewhere.
Socks with a purpose
Critically Endangered Socks is a sock company that helps protect some of the world’s most critically endangered animals (and critically endangered animal mums). The bamboo and cotton socks, which come in five designs and two sizes, retail at £12. The company sent us a pair to try, and they are indeed the best quality socks that I have in my collection. Two-tone but muted colours, warm, soft and very cosy around the ankle.
As a postscript, the company is also launching a kickstarter campaign to sell eco-friendly baby socks which help protect some of the world’s most critically endangered baby animals. More details on the website shortly.
Hot pepper sauce
Finally, we received a bottle of hot pepper sauce to try out. I’m not a hot anything person, so I can’t vouch for it myself, but here’s a nice and quick chicken marinade recipe. Put together 4 tblsp Encona West Indian Smooth Papaya Hot Pepper Sauce, 1 tsp light soy sauce, 1 tsp clear honey and 2 cloves garlic, minced in a bowl and marinade chicken strips in the sauce for at least a couple of hours in the fridge.
Late addition: Smartphone for first timers
If you would like to introduce your mum to the joys of a smartphone, then the Doro 8035 is worth a look. This last-minute addition to our product reviews is a familiar-looking Android smartphone, but with an optional, more user-friendly interface that runs on top of the operating software. It’s got big on-screen buttons for tasks like making calls, viewing emails and texts, and sending messages. Clever features include a built-in assistance button to contact emergency and local services quickly, and the ability to learn what the user does most. It’s a robust-looking phone, but I would definitely recommend a case to protect the screen. As Doro pitches its phones as being for the elderly, it’s not surprising that included is a volume boost feature that can be accessed through an ‘I want to’ button. I’m an advocate of encouraging older people onto the likes of Skype and Whatsapp as a way of staying connected with friends and family, and this phone could be a way forward. You can’t entirely avoid system messages popping up, but it’s distinctly friendlier than a standard phone. Available on contract or pay as you go from Car Phone Warehouse, O2, Vodafone, Tesco, EE for £119. (To review the phone provided by Doro, I also took advantage of a free SIM offer currently available from Tesco that links the bundle you choose to your Clubcard to collect points.)
Take a look at our ideas for gifts from last Christmas. Some lovely thoughts on these lists that would work for birthdays too.
Article by Kathy Lawrence, editor at When They Get Older