Shopping for parents and grandparents is the most complicated part of the holidays. What do you buy for people who usually 1) don’t need anything, 2) could buy their own gifts, and 3) have been buying your presents for decades?
My go-to parent gift is to donate money to charity in their name. You can use a website like No.Gifts or Paypal Giving. I also recommend charities like Heifer International, Charity Water, and Mercy Corps, which let you donate static items (a flock of ducks or sending a girl to school, for example) to people in need. Combine your charitable giving with a heartfelt card, and you’re all set.
Need an actual gift to go under the tree? See you after the jump.
The only thing my Nana ever wants as a gift is a new picture of me. So, while it may sound cheesy, a nice photo in a nice frame makes a good gift. This is especially true if you have children of your own. I like this Copper ‘Ashlyn’ Frame from Era Home ($20) or this ivory ceramic and bronze frame from Target ($12).
A few years ago, my Aunt bought my Grandfather one of those digital frames where the picture changes, and he loves it. It’s a real space saver, and she can always upload new photos for him. The Polaroid Digital Photo Frame runs $89.
Linens are a good choice for parents or in-laws. This lovely DwellStudio throw ($99) can be used to spruce up a living space or guest bedroom. We love Glacier National Park, so this Pendleton blanket ($229) would be perfect for my Mom.
A few years ago, a co-worker bought his parents very luxurious 800 thread count sheets for Christmas. He said it was the best gift he ever got them, and that they still talk about how soft they are, years later.
Some of you asked for ideas for edible gifts, so here it goes. Williams Sonoma sells the best frozen pastries ever. EVER. I love the Caramel Croissants ($49 for 12) and Sticky Buns ($45 for 12) because when people come to visit, I can take them out of the freezer, pop them in the oven, and make like an 80s Rice Krispy Treats commercial and pretend like I slaved away over brunch.
For other food related gifts, I recommend Goldbely. It’s a delivery service that allows people to order regional delicacies like Zabar’s bagels and Maine lobster rolls. I confess that I sometimes order Ben’s Chili Bowl when I need a taste of D.C.. They also offer subscriptions like the Sandwich of the Month or Cake of the Month.
My Nana, content buy L’Oreal from King Soopers, would never splurge on a decent moisturizer. So this year, I’m getting her a tub of Fresh Black Tea Age Delay Cream ($90). At 85, it may be too late for the ‘delay’ portion of the aging process, but this is certainly a gift she would never buy herself. So if you need a gift for Mom or Grandma, pick out a splurge-y beauty product that they would never buy for themselves. I also recommend Creme de Corps Body Lotion and Leonor Greyl Hair Masks.
Tervis Tumblers ($20) keep drinks super cold, are made in the USA, and can feature any sports team logo, college or pro. I have a couple, and they are a really great product. They even have coffee cups to keep your morning joe hotter, longer.
You know when I said above that the only gift my Nana wants is a picture of me? That’s not entirely true. All she wants is for me to come visit her. So if you’re at a complete loss for what to get your parent or grandparent this year, start with your time. Pick a weekend, use some frequent flier miles and go visit. If they live close by, take them to dinner. If you can’t afford to fly, just make a point to call them more frequently or send them a letter (senior citizens love to get snail mail). Because all your relatives really want for the holidays is your time.