Do you have hard-to-buy-for seniors in your life? Need a little inspiration for that perfect holiday gift?

Every year we struggled to find that “just what I wanted” gift for Mom. Presents were always appreciated, no matter what they were. But some were epic fails, like the giant Indian doll and the infamous weed whacker.

Proud to say, we really hit it out of the park last Christmas. I found out about the most adorable robotic cats sold under the name “Joy for All Companion Pets.” My mom was always a cat lover and the orange tabby we bought for her provided lots of entertainment and yes, companionship. The company also sells a puppy for people who prefer dogs to cats. I highly recommend these “pets” as a gift.

With the holiday season quickly approaching, I asked friends and colleagues to share their best gift ideas for the hard-to-buy-for seniors in their lives. I was overwhelmed at the response, not to mention the thoughtfulness and creativity of the gifts.

So, here are 30 gift ideas to make your holiday shopping for hard-to-buy-for seniors a little less stressful. They run the gamut from simple to more technical but should meet the budgets of most people. Happy shopping!

Home Comfort

  • Electric lap blanket (Costco’s are said to be very good)
  • Cozy socks (non-slip with rubber padding on the soles)
  • New set of sheets (the Jennifer Adams sheets from Costco Online were recommended)
  • DVDs of old movies
  • Omaha Steaks
  • In-home massage
  • Large-print word search/crossword puzzles
  • Large-print playing cards
  • Print and online subscription to Consumer Reports
  • Digital photo frame (load the photos and all the senior has to do is turn it on)
  • Reading glasses sprinkled throughout the house

Gift Cards

Gift cards for hard-to-buy-for seniors
  • Burke Williams, Massage Envy, Massage Heights spa cards
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Favorite restaurants
  • Gas cards
  • Movie theaters
  • Manicures/pedicures
  • Annual membership to local museum or presidential library

Memory Books + Puzzles

  • “The Book of Everyone” (allow yourself plenty of time to create this personalized book)
  • “Family Love Puzzle” from Collage
  • “Letters to My Grandparent” book (I received the “Letters to My Mother” book from my daughter a couple of years ago. You open up a new letter from the gift-giver each month)
  • “The Book of Me” (the senior tells their life story for future generations to enjoy)

Personal Items

  • Easy-to-wear bracelets that stretch and slide on (no clasp) and necklaces that slip over your head (again, no clasp)
  • Tote bag for wheelchair or walker
  • Note cards for writing thank you and other notes. Personalize them with a cover photo of your loved one with their family


This is a huge category with so many great ideas for seniors. These gifts were mentioned by several people:

  • Ring doorbell (of course, this gift would need to come with installation!)
  • Amazon Alexa or Google Home (with installation)
  • Photo stick. The family can load photos to the USB stick which can be shared with other family members and friends
  • Bluetooth headphones for the TV
  • Alexa skills such as “Senior Moments” and “Senior Stretch.” Voice-first technology for seniors could fill an entire column.

The Best Gift of All

One of my favorite responses was from my friend Gayle O: the gift of time. Gayle and her mom enjoyed outings together when her mother was alive. One time, Gayle took her mother to visit her old neighborhood. They also went to Sprouts Farmers Market, dollar stores, favorite restaurants, even the cemetery where Gayle’s father is buried. It was the opportunity to talk, laugh, and share memories and stories that made these excursions so meaningful.

A huge thank you to everyone who responded to my survey on the best gifts for hard-to-buy-for seniors. The love you have for the seniors in your life truly shines through!