10 Practical & Meaningful Gift Ideas for Grandparents

While we love them more than anything in the world – when it comes to holidays or birthdays, grandparents can be some of the hardest folks to buy for! It seems they have everything they want or truly aren’t interested in anything else.

Over the past few years, as my grandparents have aged, I’ve spent a good bit of time brainstorming what makes a truly meaningful gift to them. I don’t want to give them just “clutter” but instead, want to encourage them in their phase of life and use each gift as an opportunity to show them how much we care. Depending on the age of your grandparents (or your parents, if you’re helping your kids give a gift), a few main things might be important to them:

  • Independence and/or thriving at home
  • Health, both physical and mental
  • Helping others
  • Family, family, and more family 🙂

With these in mind, here are some of my tried-and-true gift ideas for grandparents and any elderly loved one in your life!

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1. Electronic photo frame. 

To be honest, I am starting with my absolute favorite gift. Grandparents, whether they are still 100% independent living at home or if they are in a nursing home and are no longer able to walk – electronic photo frames allow them to constantly see all the people who love them & be reminded of happy memories together.

You can load all the photos on the frame and set a timer for it to change pictures. No technological experience required 🙂 You can spend between $20 and $100 easily*but I recommend this model*, especially if you can catch it on sale. My grandparents have loved it!

We also recently purchased the PhotoShare Smart Frame which allows you to email photos directly to the frame! Such a wonderful feature to make it easier for grandparents.

2. Ancestry test. 

I think a really fun idea to give grandparents or older family members is a DNA test or family mapping service. Most members of this older generation would find it fascinating to learn more about where they come from or even more recent specifics of their family tree.

You can choose to do a genetic test like 23andMe* or Ancestry.com, or you can hire someone to put together a family history & genealogy report.

3. Photo gifts – of any kind! 

Sites like Shutterfly (and even Amazon*!!) are full of ways to give photos of your family to grandparents and elderly loved ones. Similar to the photo frame, this brings smiles into their home and lives – whether it is a canvas for their room, a calendar with photos each month, or refrigerator magnets you can update every year.

This is especially great if your family takes professional photos at a certain time each year, or a collage of candids & everyday photos is just as special 🙂

4. Sun therapy light.*

This particular gift is one that is most appropriate for individuals who are homebound or live in a nursing home. When you aren’t able to regularly get out of the house, the lack of sunshine can increase your tendency toward depression.

While this tool certainly won’t solve everything, some people claim that the light simulates the sun and can actually improve your mood! Feel free to do your own research but this can be a really practical gift if your loved one is on board.*

5. Family birthday calendar. 

I have given this to all of my grandparents, and it is always such a special and meaningful gift! Again, along with the theme of how much they LOVE their family (both immediate and extended), a birthday calendar helps them keep track of everyone’s big days and feel “in the know”.

You can follow DIY instructions here, or you can pay to have one made through Etsy*!

6. A modification around the house. 

If your loved one is aging and feeling more unsure around their home, any gift that helps them feel more comfortable will be appreciated! AARP has several recommendations to make their space safe and accessible – like widened doorways, zero-threshold entryways, or brighter lights. Additionally, things like handrails or grab bars*, a shower chair*, or a raised toilet seat* can make a big difference in their daily lives.

While this may not feel like a traditional gift to you, it will speak to their needs and make them feel known & loved. That’s what it’s all about anyway!

7. A donation to a charity they care about, or volunteer with them. 

As people age, they often become less concerned about receiving and more focused on giving. (We could stand to learn from them, you know?)

Consider what charities or causes they give their time and/or money to regularly. Could you make a donation in their honor? Most organizations will send an acknowledgment that you can present as the gift to your loved one with a sweet note about their giving spirit.

If you have a larger budget, research if the organization has a special opportunity to name a brick in a new building or sponsor a specific service (if your grandparent likes that kind of recognition).

Lastly, if your loved one is still actively volunteering, schedule a time to go with them! Not only is this supporting a cause they care about, it is also quality time – which is truly the ultimate gift.

gift ideas for grandparents or elderly

8. A planned day or date together. 

Speaking of, you can simply give the gift of time! Find a great restaurant or take them to their favorite local spot. Book a new activity to do together, depending on your grandparent’s ability to participate – whether it’s a class or an opera or a spa treatment. This can be as inexpensive or lavish as you want, and Groupon can often help you score deals for less.*

9. A book or audiobook. 

While a good book can be a great go-to source of entertainment (especially if you surprise them with one they’ve been wanting to read or something you think they will love), an interesting alternative is an audiobook. If your grandparent is younger and always on the go, this may be a fun thing to introduce them to listen as they drive, clean, or work around the house.

If your grandparent is more confined physically – perhaps with diminished eyesight and/or hand dexterity- this can be a great option for them to still be mentally engaged without having to read or turn the pages themselves. Even better – make it a book that you will read or listen to yourself, and that’s just one more way you can connect! With a free trial of Audible through this link, you can get 2 audiobooks for free!*

Or, even better, you can purchase an ongoing Audible subscription as a gift here– available in 1, 3, 6 and 12-month options.

10. A photo book or collection of letters of their best memories.

Whatever they were passionate about so far in their lives, find a way to capture it in a fun photo book, or ask others to write letters of reflection. This can be from or of family members, travel experiences, or work accomplishments with anecdotes or even notes from their former customers. Especially if your loved one feels loved through “words of affirmation”, this is a great way to help them reflect on & appreciate their legacy and how much they helped others.

What do you think?

Would your grandparent or elderly loved one enjoy any of these gifts? Have you found something that is especially meaningful or helpful to older family members?

Other Gift Guides & Resources:

PS – don’t miss my free, full “resource directory” here.

Some resources are my own, and some are from other creators. ALL of them will help you overcome what is holding you back from enjoying peace of mind and a home you love.

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