The Best Holiday Gifts for Nursing Home Residents 

Dear Hayek, 

This year is my mother-in-law’s first Christmas in a nursing home. What are some thoughtful gift ideas to brighten her holidays, and what are some things we should keep in mind when shopping for her? Thanks so much for your help! 

Hollie Daise 


Dear Hollie, 

Happy holidays! As you know, your time and attention during nursing home visits are already wonderful gifts. But if you just want to pamper someone you care about, there are plenty of gift-giving options! 

Just keep a couple of guidelines in mind: 

  • Space is limited in most nursing home rooms; 
  • Valuables can get misplaced or go missing, so receiving expensive electronics or other pricey presents may actually make residents feel anxious; 
  • The best gifts for nursing home residents leave them with a bit of extra comfort and enjoyment. If a resident has sensory difficulties or lives with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, you can find gifts made to meet their needs. 

Here are some ideas of items that nursing home residents really like to receive: 

  • Extra blankets are always welcome. Blankets brighten a room while helping residents keep warm and cozy. A wearable, sleeved blanket can also be perfect for sitting outdoors on the front porch on a mild day. A soft cotton jacket is another warm, practical idea. 
  • Socks with grippers help keep residents’ feet warm and keep them safe by reducing the potential for falls and any resulting injuries. 
  • Books in favorite genres with large print are welcome gifts for avid readers.  An e-reader such as a Kindle could also be a great idea, and perhaps you could supply a new book every month. In addition, a subscription to a favorite print publication, such as Reader’s Digest, Sports Illustrated, or Good Housekeeping, is something to look forward to in the mail. 
  • Some people enjoy stuffed animals. As much as they know it’s a stuffed animal, it’s almost like something to care for. It gives them security. And in memory care, stuffed animals can be very comforting. 
  • Colorful scarves and decorative pins are simple accessories that add flair to a resident’s outfits. 
  • If someone loves flowers, a fresh bouquet in a pretty vase makes a great surprise.   
  • Eyeglass tethers can be worn throughout the day and are a simple, effective solution for keeping track of glasses. 
  • Residents love receiving beads, necklaces, and other trinkets. Avoid fine jewelry or other expensive items that could go missing between visits.
  • Adult coloring books, paint sets, sewing kits, yarn for knitters, and other supplies keep craft-loving residents happily occupied.   
  • Practical and inexpensive, magnifying glasses are useful for anyone who struggles with reading fine print. Lighted magnifying glasses can be particularly useful for residents with vision conditions like macular degeneration to provide magnification plus illumination. 
  • Music is another wonderful way of triggering fond memories for someone who’s dealing with memory loss or dementia. Make a curated playlist of their favorite music from their childhood or young adulthood and watch as the music brings back many stories from the past. 
  • Smart speakers, such as Alexa from Amazon or Google Home devices are a great tech gift well-suited for seniors. Nursing home residents with mobility or fine motor control issues, as well as those who have difficulty seeing, could benefit from these voice-activated devices. Plus, they can provide a sense of companionship. 
  • Landline phones with photo keypads, such as this one, can help facilitate communication between long-term care residents and their loved ones by making calls less complicated. 
  • Puzzles and games are great gifts for older adults because they provide mental exercise to keep the aging brain sharp and alert. 
  • Wreaths make the entrance to a resident’s room welcoming. 
  • Custom photo gifts can take a range of forms, from wall calendars and blankets to mugs or tote bags. 
  • Dry skin is a persistent problem for older adults, so lotion or skin cream can come in handy. 
  • Residents who rely on walkers might appreciate a walker basket or caddy.   
  • Sports team merchandise such as mugs, caps, jerseys, and other sports merchandise with a team logo lets residents proclaim their fandom and support their hometown team. 

Hope this is helpful, and I hope you and your family enjoy the holidays! 


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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.